DEAR HARRIETTE: I am the owner of a small Chihuahua-mix, "Sadie." She is very spunky and has her own unique personality. Sadie loves people, and I always get requests to dog-sit her while I am away on vacation. As kind as these offers are, I know Sadie changes when I am not around. She cries and looks for me for days while I am on vacation. It is sad to hear about, and definitely distressing to be around.
Ever since I let my best friend take care of Sadie for a week, I have been leaving my dog with a professional dog sitter. How do I explain to my friends that Sadie is a bit of a nightmare to leave with strangers when they won't take no for an answer? They say I'm exaggerating, or think I don't trust them to take care of Sadie. -- Fetching for Answers, San Francisco
DEAR FETCHING FOR ANSWERS: Kindly put your foot down. If you choose to explain at all, tell those who ask that your dog has a routine when you go away that you need to keep in place in order to best care for her. Don't talk about Sadie's mood swings. Keep it as a discussion about how you support your family -- your dog -- when you are away. Welcome your friends to visit with Sadie when you are in town. If pressed, point out that Sadie is not staying with other friends. She is staying with a professional dog sitter so that you both have peace of mind.