DEAR HARRIETTE: My wife is a car slob. Even though she has her own car, she likes to borrow my car for a few days or weeks. Every time I get it back, it is a complete wreck: empty food containers on the floor, makeup smudges on the seat and steering wheel and coffee cups in the cup holders. She loves driving my car, but it bothers me that she doesn't have the respect to keep it clean. I want to tell her to stop driving my car or clean it up after she uses it, but I'm afraid it will hurt her feelings. How do I tell her? -- Stop Trashing My Car, Denver
DEAR STOP TRASHING MY CAR: It is perfectly reasonable for you to expect that you will receive your car back from your wife -- or anybody else -- in the same condition in which it was lent. If your wife has been doing this same thing for years, you have the added burden of having allowed her to trash your car for a long time without consequence. Still, you can put your foot down. Calmly tell her that you are frustrated because of the way she uses your car. Remind her that you keep your car clean, so it is difficult for you to let her use it and get it back a mess. Acknowledge that this isn’t new, but make it clear that you have had enough. Give her an ultimatum: If she cannot figure out how to keep your car clean, she will have to use her car and give you back your keys.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My neighbors moved in about six months ago, and they have a small dog. He is supposed to have an electric fence that prevents him from leaving their property, but he has gotten out because of battery failure many times and has left “gifts” on our porch. My neighbors are kind and respectful, but their dog is out of control. I’ve seen him destroy the trash on garbage days, and I’ve even seen him hanging from the trash can. How should I tell them to control their dog? -- Curb Your Dog, Stone Mountain, Georgia
DEAR CURB YOUR DOG: Speak up. Give your neighbors a list of things that their dog has done -- from defecating on your porch to potentially endangering itself by hanging onto trash cans. Ask your neighbors to check the electric fence for battery life more regularly. Suggest that they put the dog on a leash if the electric fence isn’t working. Tell them that as much as you are pleased that they have joined your community, you need them to figure out how to control their dog.
You may need to start taking photos or short videos catching their dog in the act so that the owners can see for themselves what havoc their dog is wreaking. Hold your ground when you ask them to figure out a way for the undisciplined dog to be contained.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)