Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Sensitive Nose

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: My husband is in hospice care and I have a caregiver come once a week to give me a break. I truly appreciate her help and pay her an hourly rate.

The problem is, the caregiver has dogs and smells like it. I am allergic to dogs, and her scent gives me a headache as soon as I return home, and it continues the following day. The dog scent is in my furniture, around my husband and all over the house.

How do I approach this without hurting her feelings? I don't think she is aware of her dog odor. -- Sensitive Nose

Dear Sensitive: You have to tell the caregiver that you can smell the dog in your house. Chances are, she is so accustomed to the odor that she doesn't realize how potent it is. Say that you are very sensitive and ask whether she might consider showering and washing her hair on the days when she comes to your home, and also wearing freshly laundered clothing. (Or she could keep a set of clothes at your house that she can change into.) That might make enough of a difference for you to tolerate it.

If she objects, or if nothing changes, it may be time to find another caregiver. Someone who causes you to have a headache for an entire day is not giving you the kind of respite you need. We know you like her, but this is a paid position and you should find an employee who fits all of your requirements.

Dear Annie: You printed a letter from "Better Safe than Sorry," who said all the guys she meets at work are "creepy" and constantly inappropriate. You said she might want to reconsider her work environment.


Feminists will not likely appreciate my comments. In addition to her work environment, I would also recommend that the writer look in the mirror and review her appearance, and then consider her words and mannerisms when engaging with these men. She may unintentionally be encouraging inappropriate behavior with the message she is sending these "creepy" men.

I am 67 years old and female. I am continually amazed at how many women are offended by men who respond to the woman's overtly sexual communication. I am not excusing inappropriate behavior on the part of any man, but I am reminding women that messages are conveyed through what you say, how you say it and your body language. When you get an inappropriate response, review the message you are giving from the perspective of the recipient. -- Watch Yourself

Dear Watch: Obviously, if a woman is wearing a blouse cut down to her navel and touching a man provocatively while she coos in his ear, she is creating a sexually charged conversation and inviting a similar response. Women cannot do that and then blame the man for reacting. And by the way, this can happen to men, also. Some women misinterpret a guy's friendliness as flirting, and think he's more interested than is warranted. And if it happens a lot, those men may need to dial it back. A great many men and women don't realize how they come across, and any unwanted attention that happens too frequently should be looked into. But let's face it -- too many men think all women are fair game regardless of the circumstances.


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at




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