DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our new dog is a 7-month-old, very rambunctious Border collie who is in the midst of being trained. When guests come to visit, we put him in a crate in the kitchen, which is where we usually sit. If the people are planning on staying for more than five to 10 minutes, we put him in a crate upstairs.
Twice in the past week, guests assured us that they wanted him loose. Yet when he brought the first person a toy and attempted to put it in her lap, she grabbed him by the collar and roughly pushed him in his crate, as she felt he was "herding" her. Then she offered to take him home with her as he needed to be trained more sternly with hitting.
The second guest explained that she had trained her dog by hitting him hard enough to "knock him off the sofa but he never pulled at my foot again."
I was upset. To the first, I just shook my head, but I told the second that I didn't like hitting. She was insistent and spent some time explaining how soft I was and the necessity to start hitting the dog. It made me very uncomfortable.
Should we just ignore guests when they ask that we let the dog out of his crate so as not to subject the dog to possible volunteer dog trainers?
GENTLE READER: Apparently it would be easier than training these guests. Miss Manners only hopes that you do not invite these people when there are young children in the house.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: While I was in a national chain bookstore, sitting in a chair provided by the store in front of the magazine racks, reading, two gentlemen started carrying on a conversation directly in front of me.
I found it annoying but let it go on for two or three minutes and finally stood up, did not step in any direction, as I was standing well within their personal space, addressed them with the following: " Gentlemen, I am not trying to be a jerk, but I would appreciate it if you would please carry on your conversation somewhere else."
Of course they looked at me like my hair was on fire and one informed me that "this was not a library," which I stated I was aware of. My statement had the desired effect, but was I right to do this?
GENTLE READER: With the best of intentions, Miss Manners keeps trying to mouth your exact statement in a tone that does not sound like chastisement. She has not been able to make it come out as if you were offering an apology and begging a favor.
As you acknowledge, a bookstore is not a library; conversation at normal speaking levels is not out of place there. So asking them to move requires an apology for disturbing them as well as a petition to do you a favor.
True, you accomplished your purpose in sending them elsewhere to speak, no doubt, of your rudeness. But you did not accomplish your stated purpose of "not trying to be a jerk."