38 Comments

  1. Country Girl

    Recently my cousin and his wife came to our house for a weekend visit.

    We have a dog similar in age to theirs, so as with many guests, we had no problem allowing them to bring their dog on the visit. Upon arriving, they asked if their dog could sleep in the house. I know my cousin and wife allow the dog to sleep in their bed at home (despite the fact that he is about 80 lbs.) Our dog sleeps in our room in his crate, so I wanted to allow them the same “privilege”. I asked if they had brought a crate, which they had, so I said it’d be fine if the dog slept in the house in his crate.

    When I went to clean the guest room after they left, it was abundantly clear that they had allowed the dog to sleep in bed with them despite my wishes. There was a great deal of slobber, tons of fur, and some small nail snags in my brand new linens and nice blankets.

    I am pretty hurt that they tried to deceive me, and now a little confused as to what to say the next time they come to stay. (They are somewhat frequent visitors and I know they never leave their dog at home.) Should I tell them that because some of our guests have abused the privilege and allowed their dogs to ruin our linens, it has caused us to change our rules on pets sleeping in the house? Should I risk embarassing them and confront them about the ruined linens as a way to insist that they keep the dog in the crate if he is to sleep in the house? How should I handle this?

    • Elizabeth

      If the dog is used to sleeping with them in bed, I can imagine the whining and crying they endured before they finally allowed him up. I do think that guests should obey the house rules, and the nail snags are unfortunate. But rather than thinking that they planned all along to disobey your wishes, I would take the more generous attitude that they tried to and failed. I have a large-ish dog too. He doesn’t sleep with us all night (not enough room!) but when there’s only one person in bed, he’ll hop up. I’ve never had any damage to my linens because of it, and your cousin perhaps hasn’t either, which is why perhaps he was able to justify (to himself) allowing the dog up. The slobber and hair comes out easily in the wash, just like human hair and drool does. Unless you want to ban the dog completely, I don’t think there’s any way you can prevent this anymore than you could prevent, ahem, other sorts of potential messes. I would continue to use “broken-in” linens in that room for as long as they continue to visit with their dog. Requiring the dog to sleep in a crate not in their room – that would be like pointing a big finger, and it would be better I think to confront them rather than do something passive-aggressive like that. I guess I’m suggesting that you either openly insist on the rules and refer to the damaged linens, or let it go and accept it. Just my take.

    • Jerry

      Regardless of how easy it may be to remove slobber and hair, some people think its disgusting to have an animal sleep where humans have slept. The question is not whether to confront your cousin, but when and how.

      Are the damaged linens a big deal to you? Then tell your cousin that you want them replaced; feel free to use the following message. (If the linens are not a big deal, omit the italicized sentence.)

      “I was very disappointed to see that your dog slept in the guest bed. I keep animals off of the guest furnishings for a variety of reasons. One of these is that dogs have nails that scratch up my linens. Another is that I find it gross. In any case, your dog’s nails caused some rips — I am sending the linens to you, and would appreciate your sending me a replacement set. I feel betrayed by your lack of respect for my rules, and I ask that you leave Fido home in the future.”

      • Elizabeth

        Very true. There is quite a vast spectrum for how humans interact and live with animals, all considered normal or near-normal. On one end, you have people who feel that animals track in filth and are fundamentally unclean, and so will only have outdoor pets. On the other end, you have people whose pets accompany them everywhere and who they feed directly from their mouths.

        I’m not sure where CG falls on this spectrum (probably like most, somewhere in the middle), so if she chooses to go the route of confrontation, I would only add that it would help if she acknowledged that the rules are relative. Something like, “I know that you do things differently in your home and that’s fine, lots of people do sleep with their pets. But in my home I feel strongly that the animals not be allowed on the furniture. I don’t feel comfortable having fido sleep in the guest bed. Besides the dirt, hair and slobber, it is also destructive to my linens. If you can’t keep him off the bed, we’ll have to think of another solution. What do you think will work best?” From there, options can be discussed – crate in the bedroom, crate in the kitchen, leave fido at home, etc.

        • Pam

          I’m a heck of a lot more grossed out by the idea of people having relations on my linens and having to then wash the sheets than on a family pet sleeping on the bed…do we place rules on that too?

          • Pam

            And while I know that Jerry’s tone has been addressed before on this site, I must address it again. You are offending some of us when you consistently use the word “disgusting” in relation to family pets. You are indirectly calling those of us with pets, who are adored members of our families, disgusting. For if we are the ones caring for our pets, and if our pets (simply because they happen to be animals, just like we are actually animals) are assumed to be filthy and disgusting, then we must be too. It’s very sad that you are so hostile toward animals, it really explains a lot though. about the coldness you emit.

          • Elizabeth

            In Jerry’s defense, he did say that “some people think it’s disgusting.” And that’s true – some people do. Not me, though. My favorite part of the weekend is cuddling with the dog and cat in bed in the mornings!

          • Jerry

            Pam, sweetheart, darling, I’d like you to consider two points.

            First, you need to learn to read. I never said that pets were disgusting. What I said was that “some people find it disgusting to have an animal sleep where humans have slept.” That’s not a per se condemnation of pets sleeping with people. It’s a recognition of a fact that some people do, actually, find that to be disgusting. (Whether I am one of those people is sort of irrelevant to the point — I might have told you had you not been so assuming or judgmental.) If you can’t understand the difference between what I wrote and what you understood, consider taking some remedial English courses. I will not respond to your ad hominums with respect to any alleged hostility or coldness — I suggest that consider taking your own advice with respect to tone, hostility, and coldness. Nobody likes a hypocrite.

            Second, if you really feel comfortable telling your guests not to have “relations” on your sheets, go right ahead. You can set rules with respect to how you expect your guests to behave. It falls under the your home, your rules rubric. (Recall the recent shoe on, shoe off discussion.) Just expect a lot of people to laugh at you behind your back!

          • Joanna

            @Jerry – What it really boils down to, IMO, is whether the linens and blankets are worth damaging or even severing the cousins’ relationship over, because that’s basically what will happen in this situation if the host mentions the damages. Even if the visitors know that they did wrong and can objectively see why the host might be upset, I’d be willing to put money on their taking a defensive position against being TOLD so. That’s just how people tend to be.

          • Jerry

            Joanna: Welcome to the discussion. As an initial matter, I’d like you to rethink your framing of CG’s issue. The issue is whether it is worth damaging a relationship with someone who has so little respect for you that they would violate the rules of your home. Or — to put it another way — is it worth damaging a relationship with someone who will urinate on your leg and tell you that it’s raining. The issue is not limited just to linens and blankets.

            You’re absolutely correct that any time you confront someone, you run the risk of damaging (sometimes irreparably) a relationship. As I have said on multiple occasions — and the primary reason I’m responding to your post is to reiterate this critical point — the rules of etiquette do not require anyone to subordinate his needs to avoid a confrontation. You’re also right that people can become defensive when confronted. So what if they become defensive? (Seriously, so what if they become defensive?) To my way of thinking, you break something in my house by intentionally violating my rules, you apologize and you fix it. Or you don’t come over any more.

            If you re-read my post, I offered two suggestions — one suggestion if the linens were a big deal (i.e., if it would be a big deal for the Host to absorb the cost of replacing them), and one suggestion that merely chastises Guest for breaking Host’s rules. Elizabeth’s note had more polish; I would have added my italicized sentence after Elizabeth’s fourth sentence if the linens were a big deal. But the idea is that you don’t others walk all over you.

            In any case, CG came up with a solution that worked for her. It’s not the solution I would have employed; it may not be the solution you would have employed. But it’s her life, and it sounds like she struck the balance that worked for her. This issue should be closed.

          • Pam

            Jerry, you are just a jerk. That probably violates every etiquette rule ever made, but some people just flat out deserve it, and that would be you.

          • I respect and am glad for the opinions of you both. I sincerely hope that you both continue to post here, as I firmly believe our discussions are enlightened by your input. I am only requesting that name-calling* not become the norm here. “Sweetheart” and “darling” intended with sarcasm can be just as caustic as “jerk.”

            *Name-calling sounds kindergarten, but I can’t think of a better term right now.

          • Jerry

            Pam: If it is any consolation, I feel the same way about you. I have no idea what made you decide to start with the personal attacks. And I am sincerely sorry that you could not interpret a simple declarative sentence. Nevertheless, your behavior, tone, and manner continues to be inappropriate. While you are taking your remedial English classes, please also consider some classes in anger management.

    • Jody

      I’m a dog lover, but I also firmly believe that when visiting you should obey the house rules. If your cousin and his wife want to bring their dog on the next visit, I’d re-emphasize the “no dogs sleeping on the bed” rule. I’d say it’s definitely OK to say something to them about noticing that the dog had slept on the bed the last visit and your linens were damanged. If they have a “it doesn’t matter” attitude you can re-emphasize the rule and say that’s a house rule and unfortunately you won’t be able to allow visiting pets if the “no pets sleeping on the bed” rule is difficult to follow.

      • Country Girl

        I appreciate all the input! Funny enough the cousin just asked if they could visit again this very weekend. I reinforced that I would like them to bring the crate for Fido to sleep in and told him we had had problems with our linens being destroyed by guest pets. He got a little defensive, and actually “excused” himself by saying that they removed the comforter before allowing the dog in bed the last time they were here. (Although that didn’t matter because there was so much filth on top of the blanket that it transferred to the comforter when they made the bed the next day.) I just assured him we were making this a house rule, as many other guests have a pet as well.

        Like a hotel I suppose, I am sure to clean the linens after each guest, but I really don’t appreciate having to clean my comforter and inner blanket each time as well. The slobber and fur was so overwhelming after their last visit and it actually took two cleanings of each load (comforter, blankets, and sheets all separate) to get it all out. Time-consuming and well…. Yuck. And I am a dog lover!

        I truly do believe that there are some pet owners who view their animal as a guest as well and their “messes” as just another guest casualty. I see having your pets as a guest as a privilege and am extra cautious in following rules and cleaning messes when we bring our dog anywhere because of this. I understand and wish I could make them understand that an invitation to bring the dog does not mean that he is welcome any and everywhere. Whether I impliment them at home or not, I am always also sure to make our pet obey the boundries of the household. If he is allowed to visit but must stay in the garage and/or outside, as is often the case, then he will do just that. He and we will both live, and will be likely invited over again. =)

        • Elizabeth

          Wow – that level of mess was beyond what I imagined. He sounds like a real shedder. I wouldn’t want to have to do a day’s worth of extra laundry either! Good for you for gently but firmly enforcing a boundary.

        • Joanna

          IMO the size and breed of dog should also be taken into consideration in all situations as well – for example, I have a bichon frise and a mini poodle mix. Neither of them shed, neither have any drooling issues, and neither is large (bichon is 18 pounds and poodle is only 9). Therefore, it’s also really easy to keep them clean, and I always make sure to do so, never leaving the house without wet wipes and a special towel. From the sounds of things, the cousin’s dog doesn’t seem to fall into any of these categories.

          • Chocobo

            Joanna, I disagree. Though certain breeds do not shed and are less likely to drool, I don’t think that makes them less capable of damage. Or less gross to people who do not like the thought of animals on bedsheets and furniture.

      • Vanna Keiler

        I agree with Jody’s comment. There seem to be two issues here: linens being destroyed by guests as a a result of the guest privately not agreeing to your house rules. As a host, I would avoid the possibility of confrontation completely in the future (and in person!) by just stating that, sadly, you can no longer accommodate guests’ pets. I’m guessing the cousins already can surmise why this new change would have come about, being the perpetrators, but if not, it is vague enough not to offend. No reason need be given, except by saying, with a regretful tone, that is has not worked out to have this accommodation.

        • Chocobo

          I agree with Vanna. Direct confrontation does not seem wise as Country Girl did actually see the dog on the bed, obvious as the evidence may seem. The cousins could always deny it, make excuses, or get defensive. Seeing as many people have strong feelings about their dogs, it would lead neither to compensation nor reconciliation.

          It’s one of those double-edged rules: guests are required to offer to pay for or replace items that they damaged, but hosts cannot demand it of guests who have the gall to ruin something without offering to repair the damage. If compensation is not forthcoming from the cousin, Country Girl’s only polite recourse is either to not invite the cousin overnight again (if she is that offended), or next time the cousin comes over, explain that pets are no longer welcome.

          Edit: I see Country Girl has resolved the issue. Well done! It sounds like you made the correct choice. Perhaps that will knock some sense of shame into him.

  2. Alicia

    Next time they come when they ask about dog sleeping arangements say you want the dog to sleep in a crate in the kitchen or outside.
    No need to confront right now no need to allow dog to sleep in their room in future .

  3. Rusty Shackleford

    So last night I attended an outdoor concert in the park sponsored by our local parks and recreation department. It was at a public park and advertised as a free event. Upon driving to the park, traffic was being directed by park staff, and all cars had to pass by collectors, next to a sign that said “Donation $3.00.” Not suggested donation, or please help X cause. There was a sign next to the donation sign saying where the money was going, a worthy cause, though not one I’d probably support if given a choice since there are so many. In any case, my wife and I took the bait and paid the $3. After the concert, I learned that not everyone pays the $3. Some give less, some give more, some not at all. My wife thinks I should have asked at the time if the donation was required or not. I am curious what others think? Is it proper to ask if a donation is mandatory? Is it proper to give less as other do?

    • Alicia

      Donation means not manditory. Ticket price means mandatory.
      If it is a donation give as little or as much as you wish

    • Elizabeth

      If you had asked, would your wife have wanted to forgo giving the donation?? It’s a free concert, and the donation was $3! You can spend more on a latte. I think the better questions is: where is the money going? In absence of that information, though, I can only imagine that it was going to help pay for all of the extra staff on hand at a public park at night, or going toward the operations budget of the parks+rec department. Just because some people didn’t give doesn’t mean you should feel bad about the giving that you did. Rather, I would think less of those that did not cough up a measly $3.

      • Joanna

        @Elizabeth – IMO it’s not the question of the $3 but rather that the concert was advertised as free, and then a donation was being asked of attendees. I think that is Rusty’s issue as well. I don’t think anyone would object to giving a mere $3 to attend, especially if it’s going to a worthy cause; but people like to know what they’re getting into upfront. I don’t know what kind of concert this was specifically, but in our city, there are many throughout the summer which are attended by families. Imagine, for instance, a parent who took their two or three kids along with another two or three neighbor kids, trying to be nice by entertaining everyone with an outing, and then upon showing up, discovered that they were being asked to give $20 or $25 for the event they had thought was free of charge. It could be a potentially embarrassing or awkward situation.

  4. Eric

    What is the etiquette when sharing? My wife and I seem to butt heads from time to time on this issue. I see nothing wrong with self-indulging on occasion. If I make myself a bowl of popcorn or treat myself to a specialty beer, I do not feel I have an obligation to share each. For me, it is an issue of respecting boundaries. My wife, however, thinks that my behavior is rude when I self-indulge. She feels that, at the very least, I should offer her a portion of what I have made, purchased, and set aside for myself. My wife often makes light of my behavior by announcing when she is sharing or offers food items to me that she knows I do not wish to have simply to drive the point that I am indeed being rude by not sharing.

    If my wife were a common house guest, I would recognize my behavior as rude. Surely, it is polite to offer a guest food and drink and quite rude to eat or drink in front of them without making an offer for same. Moreover, I understand that it would be considerate of me (and likely make my home life easier ;)) if I simply offered her a portion of whatever it is I am treating myself to. So, what is proper here? Am I rude for not sharing special treats and the like with my wife, or is my wife rude for expecting that I do so and making light of my behavior?

    • Alicia

      It is not rude to not share. However, in this situation it is innconsiderate. For long term happiness why not make a bit extra popcorn or buy an extra fancy beer. That way you have some for you and some for your wife and you are both happier.

    • Country Girl

      This reminds me of the “Joey doesn’t share food!” episode on Friends. =) I don’t know what it is about men that makes them stake claim to their food in this way, but my husband is very territorial over his as well. (He does share if I ask, but I can actually see the agony in his face with each fry he hands over.)

      Of course you aren’t “rude” in not always offering, but if she asks, then please by all means indulge her. =) It eliminates that stupid “I made it.” “But I bought it.” “Well I do your stinky laundry!” escalating argument (we’ve all been there lol). And like Alicia says, if you know you are making or getting something she likes, it takes pretty minimal effort to bring her some as well and I promise the payoff will be huge, (unless like I would) she passes out in shock.

    • Jerry

      To answer the limited questions that you asked, you do not have an affirmative obligation to offer your wife something that you’ve made or opened; however, you cannot deny your wife a taste if she asks for one. There is nothing wrong, though, with your offering your wife a portion; nor is there anything wrong with your wife offering you a portion of a dish, even if she knows you don’t necessarily like it. Your wife is rude, however, for using a passive aggressive communication style, and making a big production of her offer to share.

      Unfortunately, the situation here may not be as simple as you presented it. If you go to get yourself [a snack, a beer, or whatever] you should announce that you’re going to the kitchen to get [whatever], and ask your wife if she wants anything. Asking your wife whether she wants anything while you’re up gives your wife the option to choose her treat — that’s even better than you foisting your treat upon her. Your failure to inquire at the time you’re getting up to get your treat is inconsiderate. (If it makes you feel better, your wife is similarly inconsiderate if she fails to offer to get you your treat of choice while she’s up.) And if your wife says that she doesn’t want anything, you don’t need to offer her your popcorn, beer, or whatever when you come back.

      Making an extra portion of a snack is potentially wasteful. What if your wife does not, indeed, want a portion? You either (i) eat more than you wanted, or (ii) have wasted food.

    • I think both Jerry and Country Girl have hit on good points. I recognize that we are only getting one side of the issue. On the surface, I am sorry to hear that your wife calls you rude for not sharing a portion of your single serving. On the other hand, can you really not spare a few kernels from an entire bowl of popcorn, or a sip from your beer? Now, if she demands half the popcorn or half the beer, I agree with you – why doesn’t she simply get her own? As my mother says, “you’ve got two legs and two hands.” (Unless she does not, in which case I intended no slight by the comment).
      When I buy a specialty cider or beer for myself, I always offer the husband a taste. I may not want to share the whole thing, but offering one taste won’t ruin my experience. He does the same with no prodding on my part. As Jerry pointed out, if I’m getting up to get food, I ask if Husband wants anything. If he doesn’t, then my snack belongs to me.
      I’d be interested to hear the other side of this story.

    • Chocobo

      Eric, the etiquette rules of the home state that if you are going to go get yourself something from the kitchen, you offer to get anyone else who is with you (in this case, your wife) something while you are up. It’s a common courtesy you should do for anyone in your presence, even if you are just going to get some water. Then you have the option to offer to make another bag of popcorn for your wife, if that’s what she wants, and you can still have one for yourself. But I suspect that she may care less about the popcorn itself than a little consideration from her spouse.

  5. Eric

    I want to thank those of you who provided their insight on my question. I’m new to this virtual community and was reticent to jump in. Your thoughts were helpful and much appreciated. I hope that I am able to do the same for your queries when I am able.

    • Chocobo

      Eric, I’m sure you will have much to contribute here. No opinion is unwanted. As you can probably see, sometimes we disagree, but generally this forum remains respectful of one another. Welcome!

  6. I’m trying to remember the reason why it’s impolite to wish the Bride “congratulations” instead of the preferred “best wishes”. It demeans her somehow, but I can’t recall.
    Thanks.
    Jennifer

    • It implies that she should be congratulated for managing to catch a husband. But most people don’t know that, and I wasn’t offended when people said it to me.

  7. ca_question

    Hi everyone, I hope this question is relevant to this thread, but can anyone refer a helpful book in regards to appropriate wear for all occasions? For modern women, from late twenties and late fifties? Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you! : )

    • Alicia

      I’m not sure any book covers all occasions there are a lot of variables. I know that it is covered to a certain extent in the emily post books.
      Do you have a specific occasion or set of occasions in mind we can help you with?

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