Safety, Miss Manners! Safety!

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our very cute dog, “Wally,” has enjoyed the occasional table scrap on top of her usual dog food dinners. As a result, she has added a few pounds to her otherwise sleek physique. Lately, my wife has been gently chastising her, even calling her “pudgy.”

I’m concerned that this is not only a breach of etiquette, but could have a long-term impact on her self-esteem. My wife says that since she’s a dog, it’s of no matter. I say fat-shaming is what it is, regardless of species. We have agreed to let you be the ultimate arbiter.

GENTLE READER: We seem to be scraping the bottom of the pandemic barrel for arguments, are we not?

But yes, Miss Manners agrees with you: Babies and animals should not be subjected to any sort of shaming. Not just because they are unable to defend themselves, but because it sets an unpleasant precedent for their more cognitive counterparts.

Miss Manners suggests that you respond to your wife by saying, “Now, dear, Wally looks as good as any of us after nine months of our delicious cooking.” (c) MISS MANNERS

As cute as this is, I have a few thoughts. This letter writer should never say Miss Manners’ suggested quotation if he values his life. Goodness gracious!

But more importantly, and aside from all the gun and games of this letter (okay, I mean to type fun and games, but that also works), feeding a dog table scraps is dangerous. Onions are toxic to dogs. If you give your dog part of a hamburger with onions on it, you’re begging for trouble. And then there are avocados, macadamia nuts, xylitol (an atrificial sweetener found in chewing gum), and chocolate. Also, any fruit with a pit.

Miss Manners dropped the ball here on an important safety issue.

(That said, it’s probably okay to give your doggie table scraps if you’ve strongly researched it. A yummy lick of peanut butter won’t kill your dog.)

Furthermore, it’s unhealthy to let your doggie get overweight due to table scraps. I’d recommend instead filling a cannister with milkbone dog treats. That’s what we give LuLu. She loves the flavorful ones.

I get that Miss Manners is focused on etiquette, but safety is everyone’s concern.

While I have the attention of any dog owners, don’t feed your dog Greenies snacks, and don’t give your dog an actual bone–not even one that’s marketed and packaged for a dog. (How this stuff stays on the market is beyond me.) Rawhide bones, which are actually made of rawhide, are way better than bone-bones.

As for whether or not to insult your dog… I’m so guilty of this. I’m always saying to LuLu, “What’s the matter with you, pup? You’ve always been jealous of my favorite pet.” And I’ll pick up Mr. Kitty and give him a kiss on his plump tummy. Or I’ll say, “Oh, I love my LuLuLu… but only a little bit!” And I used to tell Echo, “Oh, you have the face of an angel! An ugly angel…”

And there was the hilarious time when my brother had two cats whom he named Princess and Fatty. I think that says it.

Dear Amy: This summer I had a falling out with my oldest friend.

She did me a large favor and eventually felt overextended.

I had done her many favors in the past. I thanked her for her help, both in writing and through my actions, but I dropped the ball on returning her things on the deadline we agreed to.

She got upset and said some hurtful things. She repeated these things many times.

I thanked her again, made a sincere apology and asked for some space.

I was deeply hurt by her comments, which attacked my character, and I felt betrayed.

It has now been a few months since we’ve communicated.

Before our falling out, she sent out wedding invitations for next summer, and I have yet to R.S.V.P.

I’m worried that it’s rude to delay my R.S.V.P., but I’m afraid to contact her when she was so angry and hurtful every time we talked.

If she never apologizes for her comments, I don’t think I’d want to attend her wedding, but I don’t want to throw away our friendship over one fight.

What’s the polite thing to do?

— Wondering Friend

Wondering Friend: Given that this wedding is still several months away, you are probably still in the polite R.S.V.P. window.

But it seems that this wedding invitation, and your concern about politely responding, is a red herring.

Yes, apologies are due all around. After your dust-up, you asked for space — and you have received it.

Have you reflected on your own behavior? Have your apologies been specific, sincere and humble? Do you need to make amends for your own actions?

If you would like to attend this wedding, you could contact your friend to say, “I’d like to start the new year out on a better footing with you and try to repair the damage to our friendship. I would like to attend your wedding, but I’ll leave it up to you to let me know if you’d still like for me to be there.”

If you don’t want to try to repair this friendship and don’t want to attend the wedding, send your R.S.V.P. along with a note saying, “I’m sorry I won’t be able to attend your wedding celebration, but I truly hope you have a beautiful day.” (c) Ask Amy

Whoa. That sounds brutal. What I’m sensing from the inciting event is that the friend really left her comfort zone to help the letter writer. It stressed her out to the max, and then the letter writer didn’t return things on time. Picture this: “I need my car back on Friday. If you haven’t returned it then, I’ll become a stress mess about my upcoming road trip, and I’ll worry that the whole thing’s going to fall through.”

And the letter writer doesn’t return the car on Friday. That’s sort of how I have it pictured. Her actions (we’ll just assume the letter writer’s female, but who knows?) caused major havoc in her friend’s life, and the friend risked that havoc in the spirit of friendship.

So I can totally understand the friend’s freak-out and meltdown. Is it good to act that way? No. But it’s understandable.

I thanked her again, made a sincere apology and asked for some space.

This is an interesting catch on Ask Amy’s part: she asked for space… and was given it! There you go! Here’s your space!

It has now been a few months since we’ve communicated.

Right. That’s what happens when you ask for space. The friend can’t really approach the letter writer without breaking the space request.

Why does anyone ever ask for space, anyway? In the context of a romantic (or potentially romantic) relationship, it’s pretty much the kiss of death. Within a friendship, I’m not sure what the purpose is. Did the letter writer want to avoid the meltdown for a while? I mean, that’s understandable. But asking for space is almost offensive, because it implies that the issue is a relationship killer. Like, “Back off me!”

That said, I understand the letter writer’s feelings. She made a mistake, her friend got furious, and she couldn’t make it go away even by apologizing. People make mistakes. What are you going to do, bite someone’s head off?

I’m worried that it’s rude to delay my R.S.V.P., but I’m afraid to contact her when she was so angry and hurtful every time we talked.

There’s another reason not to ask for space. I’m starting to see the problem now. The letter writer’s thinking, if I contact her, is she still going to be angry? And that’s a hard position to be in. I’d rather let things settle down in real time (right after something occurs) than put it on hold for months.

If she never apologizes for her comments, I don’t think I’d want to attend her wedding, but I don’t want to throw away our friendship over one fight.

It’s a weird dichotomy. The letter writer’s worried that her friend might still be angry, and she’s also worried that her friend might not apologize. There’s an obvious middle ground there where the friend regrets her overreactions but can’t apologize because she’s not an apologizer. (Is that a word? I don’t know, but it’s definitely a thing.) Some people are very uncomfortable apologizing. I can understand that. If you think the person’s sorry anyway, I say, what the heck, may as well forgive them.

But I get the concern. If she’s sorry but can’t say so, how does the letter writer know it won’t happen again? I mean, obviously, we all hope that something like that won’t go wrong twice, but life being what it is….

I like Ask Amy’s advice for the letter writer to consider her own role in this. She needs to consider how much her friend overextended herself to help her out. If the letter writer’s capable of apologizing (again) herself, it should break the ice. That would be my advice.

3 thoughts on “Safety, Miss Manners! Safety!

  1. I like Miss Manners’ “We seem to be scraping the bottom of the pandemic barrel for arguments, are we not?” It seems rather bizarre that the letter writer is worried about etiquette and the dog’s self-esteem. It’s a dog, not a human that speaks English. If I called the guinea pigs fat and ugly just before I gave them celery, they’d get excited about being called fat and ugly because it meant a treat was coming.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very good points!! It seems hilarious to me that anyone would be upset about trash-talking the pets. HA H AH AH HA!! I mean, they don’t have a clue!! And Miss Manners’ comment about scraping the bottom of the barrel made me laugh out loud. Go Miss Manners!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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