DEAR HARRIETTE: I visited my aunt this Mother's Day. She is in her 80s now and lives alone since my uncle passed away about five years ago. Her children live in Canada, so I thought I'd pay her a visit, since they are too far away.
Upon entering her apartment, I saw a small dog bolting around. She told me she had gotten it about a year ago. I love animals and have a dog, too; however, the smell of feces in the apartment was pretty bad. I noticed small piles on the floor and some urine stains. I tried my best to ignore it, but my aunt caught me staring and admitted she doesn't take the dog out as frequently as she should.
Her love for the dog is obvious, but I really don't think she can care for it. She prides herself on being independent, but I think she needs help with this dog. I doubt she'd ever want to give it up because she would feel lonely, but the state of her apartment is pretty foul. What should I suggest to her? I don't want to leave the situation without trying to help. -- Pooped, Baltimore
DEAR POOPED: You could have started cleaning up the dog dirt, and you still can. If you can afford it, hire a housekeeper and go back to visit your aunt. Tell her you want to help her get her house tidy again, and then engage your aunt while the cleaner does the work. Beyond that, recommend that your aunt hire a dog walker. To reduce the accidents in the house, someone has to take the dog out. Contact her children immediately. Tell them the situation, and ask for their support to take care of their mother. Ask them to pay for the dog walker and a regular cleaning person. It is unhealthy for her to be living in the company of urine and feces. Keep checking in on your aunt.