Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

Mom's doggy day care raises hackles

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I moved in with my boyfriend fairly recently. His mother, "Betty," comes to the house every day while we are at work and lets the dogs out and helps in the yard.

We are totally fine with that and are openly very appreciative; she is a fantastic person and I'm grateful to be accepted into such an awesome family.

Amy, we have not asked her for this help. She does it as a kindness, but unfortunately it has gotten a bit out of hand. She decorates to her liking (we change it back). The pool will be skimmed, and the skimmings will be left in a pile, which we have to clean up. The dogs will track mud around the house, which I will have to scrub off the floor. The kitchen cabinets get rearranged and we're unable to find things.

These are minor inconveniences, but I would like to do these tasks on my own schedule.

I stress out every day on my way home, wondering what will be changed today. My boyfriend puts off talking to her about this, because we know she will be upset.

How do I gracefully decline an act of kindness/favor that I did not ask for? I do not want this put on me, and I'm not sure I should be apologetic, but I don't want to upset anyone.

What should I do?

-- Wondering

Dear Wondering: Let's review: Every day, someone comes to your house and deals with your dogs. She also skims the pool and does little chores. You don't have to arrange for these visits, pay a fee or deal with complications of the dogs adjusting to new people.

Given that dog walkers (in cities) can cost upwards of $500/month, Betty's services are basically gold-plated. It might be worth it to put up with what you call "minor inconveniences," and when you come home each night and see the pool skimmings in a pile (for instance), say, "Yay! Betty was here!"

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