DEAR HARRIETTE: My roommate and I recently made the bad decision of getting a dog in our apartment. Before we got the puppy, we both agreed to have "shared custody" of the pet. A month later, unsurprisingly, I am the only one who is doing the dirty work like cleaning, feeding and walking our dog. Every time I confront her about this, she denies not doing any of the work. I have confronted her several times since then, and there have been no changes. What should I do or say to my roommate to get her to do her share of the work without causing too much tension? -- Lopsided Care, Syracuse, New York
DEAR LOPSIDED CARE: Sadly, you cannot force your roommate to care for the dog, even though you made an agreement. Your story is all too familiar, even as it sounds childish. This is typically what little children do when they beg their parents for a pet and never lift a finger to care for it. In their case, they may have privileges taken away.
In your case, you may want to charge her for the services that you provide. Find out how much a dog walker gets paid in your area, and charge her 50 percent of that cost per week. How much does a groomer cost, etc.? If you present her with a weekly bill that reflects the services she agreed to provide, you may end up starting an honest conversation, though it is doubtful that she will fork over the money. If you have a shared bill from which you can deduct that amount, you can try recouping your loss that way. Just make sure that you don't put your electricity or rent in jeopardy doing so.