DEAR ABBY: We recently bought a new home and have discovered that our elderly neighbors are caring for their grandson's dog. The dog lives in a 3-by-6-foot area right next to our patio. The poor animal receives little attention and is rarely cleaned up after. As a consequence, our patio reeks of dog feces, and we are overwhelmed by flies.
I feel bad for the couple, and I resent the grandson for allowing his dog to be neglected and for failing to have any consideration for the stench that makes our patio off-limits to us. How can I politely ask my new neighbors to clean up after their dog so we can enjoy our new home without offending them or creating a bad neighbor situation? -- "SHOO FLY" IN BAKERSFIELD, CALIF.
DEAR SHOO FLY: If your neighbors are unable to properly care for their grandson's dog, they shouldn't have it. A dog is a responsibility -- the animal needs feeding, exercise, social contact and to be cleaned up after. To shirk that responsibility is cruel.
It would not be offensive to inform these neighbors that the odor and flies from their dog run are so overwhelming that they prevent you from enjoying your patio. Speak up, or they'll think you haven't noticed. If this continues, call animal control or a pet rescue group.