Ask Amy: Friend dominated by Alpha dog

June 17, 2014 

Dear Amy: A good friend of mine keeps asking me to watch her dog when she goes out of town. While it seems an innocent request, there are several things about it that bother me.

Firstly, her dog requires four visits per day, at very specific hours — making it nearly impossible to run my life normally. An option she provides is for me to stay at her house, but that is not something I am able to do, because I have to work from my own home office, a concept that I do not think she understands.

Her apartment, although a short drive from mine, does not have adequate parking, so it is extremely inconvenient to visit during the day. She has asked me to watch the dog for many days in a row, and she asks me at the very last minute — sometimes just a few days before.

I believe that she should pay the money to have the dog boarded, and this is all her attempt to not have to pay for that cost.

She thinks that it is convenient for me because I live a few minutes away, and because I am a freelancer — but it really is not convenient.

I keep giving her excuses why I cannot watch the dog; sometimes the excuses are legitimate and sometimes I am making them up. I truly do not have time to take care of a pet during the day, which is why I have no pets of my own. How do I let her know that I am not comfortable handling this responsibility, without sounding like a jerk?

— "S" in California

Dear "S": Using lame-o excuses and falsehoods to get out of doing this makes you sound like more of a jerk than this simple response: "No."

Practice this into a mirror until you feel confident. Because you seem like the sort of person who is easily pushed around by an Alpha dog, I give you permission to expand your "No" to include this: "I was willing to do this a few times but I don't want to do it anymore. It is way too time-consuming for me."

Bam. That's it. You don't offer excuses or explanations.

She is lucky you stepped up those times you did, and now she is going to have to find someone else.

Dear Amy: That letter from "Putting the Kids First" really hit home for me.

As the daughter of a rat-fink dad who ran off with his mistress (and left my mom to raise eight kids), I know that nothing anyone says to these daughters will make them like their dad's mistress. It's her karma. Sorry, deal with it!

— Been there

Dear Been There: I have a similar personal story, but a slightly different take.


You can contact Amy Dickinson via email at, follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.

The Fresno Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service