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Ask Amy

Child care provider is family dog’s best friend

Q. I’m a nanny, and the family I work for has a very sweet lap dog they inherited from their grandma, who recently passed away. I think that sentiment and grief is what led them to keep a dog very poorly suited for their lifestyle.

They spend a lot of time out of the house and the dog has to be crated while they are gone, especially as the house is being redone and the workers aren’t careful about keeping him from going into the street. The family is very loving and treat the dog well, but a problem has arisen: He always behaves better when I’m around. He doesn’t bark, he falls asleep at my feet, and he doesn’t try to chase cars when we go on a walk.


They are working to improve their relationship with the dog, but I’ve been put in an awkward place. They have started joking that I should take the dog. All of this has made me feel guilty when I leave at the end of the day!

I don’t think it’s my place to tell them how to take better care of this dog. This isn’t my dog and the family is working through their difficult adjustments! How do I ease the guilt and let go? I definitely don’t want a dog.

Nanny in Need

A. This family has acquired a new family member, and this increases your workload. You might be able to negotiate a raise based on this extra work. “Monetizing” this sweet pup will remind your employers that you are a professional caregiver.

If they are on vacation, for instance, you should only agree to canine care if they are willing to pay you a fair wage for dog sitting. Don’t let them pressure you to take the dog home with you — even for a limited time — because then, I assure you, you will end up with him.


It sounds as if you have the golden touch with children and canines — and this is no surprise because caring for children and dogs requires a similar skill set: patience, gentleness, and firm and loving course corrections. Your clients are acknowledging your skill with this dog when they joke that you should take it. But you should — and you must — be as firm and clear with them as you would be if they attempted to foist a child upon you.

The next time they joke or hint about this, you should say, “Well, there is no way I will take the dog, but I have gotten to know him and if you want I’d be happy to show you some of the things I’ve learned.”

Q. My family was invited to my cousin’s wedding. We replied that we would all be there. My cousin sent me a message that they received our response, and that our daughter was not allowed.

My wife and I are extremely upset! Our daughter is a toddler, but well-behaved. My instinct is to politely respond that we will no longer be attending the wedding. There will be several family members coming from out of town we barely see and would’ve liked the opportunity for them to see our daughter.

They are certainly free to invite whomever they want to their wedding, but to me the whole point is to gather family and friends to celebrate the union of two people.


What should I do? I feel like I will still be angry with him come the day of the wedding because my daughter is part of my family and should be there.

Upset Cousin

A. You don’t get to decide what the point of your cousin’s wedding is. A wedding is a sacred ceremony and — in this case — also a party for grown-ups. I infer that this wedding is being held near where you live, which would make it easier for you to secure child care, as well as welcome out-of-town family members to your home for an introduction to your toddler.

If you can’t understand this and manage to rein in your anger, then yes, it sounds as if your family should stay home.

Q. The question from “Inconsolable” made me see red. This woman was upset that her extramarital affair had ended. I was worried that you would find a way to sympathize with her. I’m glad you called her out as the selfish person she is!


A. This was the rare question that elicited absolutely no sympathy from me.

Amy Dickinson can be reached at askamy@amydickinson.com.