DEAR ABBY: My in-laws are retired and live about four hours away. When they visit, they bring their male miniature schnauzer, "Liebchen," with them. Being a dog lover and owner myself, I don't mind them bringing the dog. What I do mind is that Liebchen keeps marking his territory INSIDE my home. During a two-day visit at Easter, he urinated in at least four locations.
When this happens, my mother-in-law just giggles and says, "That's what little boys do." I have pointed out that my dog doesn't do it, and it is not acceptable behavior. She just shrugs. After they left, I found another spot where Liebchen had urinated. This time he took the finish off an antique copper plant stand. My mother-in-law never even considered punishing or scolding him.
There is no question that it's Liebchen doing this. He has ruined a sofa, a chair and a dining room rug in my sister-in-law's home. Abby, the dog is house-trained and he's not incontinent. He does it because he thinks he's in charge -- which in their house he is.
My husband is reluctant to say anything to his parents, although this bothers him as much as it does me. Is it appropriate for me to discipline their dog in my home? If not, how can I politely tell them that if they can't control their dog, he is no longer welcome? -- SATURATED IN ATLANTA
DEAR SATURATED: That your in-laws would allow their animal to destroy your home is disgraceful. It should not be your job to discipline their dog. That's THEIR job.
However, since they don't seem to be up to it, the next time they mention they're coming for a visit, offer to board little Liebchen at a kennel. Or try this: Suggest that instead of them coming to visit you -- you and their son will go to visit THEM. (And take your dog.)