Friday, January 9, 2015

Dogs And Children Are Not Always Welcome Visitors, So Plan Accordingly

Dear Tazi:

My sister-in-law, “Elle”, is one of those people who thinks her dogs are her children and that they should be welcome anywhere children are welcome. The problem is that she owns two very large German shepherds. Every time she comes over to visit, which is a lot more frequently than I would like, she insists on bringing these unwelcome creatures with her.

Tazi, it is not that I do not like dogs; I just do not like them in my home. I have two young children and an indoor cat that are all terrorized by the mere presence of these animals. I have tried to explain to Elle why she cannot bring her dogs inside my house (I have no problem with her leaving them in my fenced yard) but she takes the matter far too personally, asking me how I found feel if she relegated my children to the yard when we come to visit her. The irony of that statement is that she has several rooms that are “off-limits” to the children when we visit, and I have no problem with this arrangement. When I point this out to her she insists that it is not the same thing.

Tazi, my children are only 4 and 2 – far too young to fight off a large and powerful dog should it decide it wants to “play” with them. My elder daughter is scared of these two shepherds and my younger is not fully socialized around dogs; I am afraid that she will try to pull the dog’s tail and end up getting mauled. My sister-in-law is insulted that I would even suggest that either of her dogs would do such a thing and tells me I am overreacting. I was bitten by a dog as a young child, and had to have extensive plastic surgery to repair the damage, so maybe I am being a bit overcautious but I cannot help the way that I feel. These are my children! What do you have to say on the matter, little cat?

Scaredy Cat

Dear Scaredy Cat:

And your cat. These are your children and your cat, right? Just checking…in your panic you seem to have forgotten that Fluffy’s safety is also at risk, too, since cats pose a temptation for dogs to chase.

I'm tough, I know it...

Your sister-in-law sounds very self-centered. You have offered a reasonable compromise – to allow her dogs to play in your yard which, I am certain, they would prefer to being cooped up in the house – and she has refused to agree to this reasonable arrangement. Is there a deeper issue that runs between the two of you? Is she resentful that you married her brother? Since she visits “a lot more frequently” than you would like I am detecting an unusually close relationship between the two of them that puts you in the position of outsider. This should not be so in a marriage; as close as siblings might be, vows have been taken to put one’s spouse before all others. It is time for your husband to do just that.

Since Elle refuses to honor your wishes or accept any compromise that you suggest it is time that your husband step up to the plate and tell her himself: the dogs are not allowed inside the house. Your concerns for your children are sound; a two year old should not be left unsupervised with an animal – not even for a few minutes. A child’s cry can sound like a wounded animal, awakening an animal’s natural instincts; a child’s natural curiosity could result in injury to both the dog and the human.

If your husband refuses to back you up on this matter, you are going to have to take matters into your own hands. When Elle comes to visit you can take the children to the playground…or the movies…or the toddler gym…or wherever the dogs are not, even if it is to the backyard to play on their swing-set. Also be sure to isolate the cat in a closed room that the dogs cannot enter – for her safety, as well as theirs. When cats scratch another animal, we go for the face!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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