DEAR MISS MANNERS: We've taken care of our friends' cats when they've been away, going daily to their house. It's easy, as cats are pretty self-reliant, and we're happy to do it. We're treated to a nice dinner afterwards, and everyone's happy.
The issue is that they've just gotten a cute new puppy, and we're concerned that we'll be asked to take care of it. We'd have to have the puppy in our home, and though we've had many dogs ourselves in past years, we're not willing to start up again.
Should we say so before they ask, or wait to see if they ask at all? A boarding kennel would be the answer, and they can afford it. But how would you frame a polite response if this question comes up?
GENTLE READER: Not by telling them what they can or cannot afford. Miss Manners assures you, however, that you are under no obligation to take this puppy into your home. She suggests that you tell your friends (if the question comes up) that your home is ill-equipped for dogs, and that you therefore fear for this one's safety. That your true concern is for the well-being of your crystal vases and upholstered furniture need not be disclosed.