No dogs at Christmas
December 24, 2013 5:00 AM   Subscribe

Despite no one wanting to go there, it seems that we're doing Christmas at my sister's house this year. No one wants to go there because a) she doesn't cook well and b) she has two big, untrained, messy, and annoying dogs. I can handle the crappy food if I don't have to deal with the dogs. How can I get her to keep them in a separate room without getting really pissed at me?

Everyone will be doing there own thing in the morning, then in the early afternoon, we will all go to my sister's house and stay there for the rest of the evening. Sister lives with husband and 3 year old daughter, they have a nice, large house.

The dogs are very exuberant black labs - nice dogs, but zero training, so they continue to bark, harass, and drool on everyone throughout the afternoon, plus the dog hair everywhere that my sister doesn't bother to clean. We tend to dress nicely for Christmas, which ends up as a waste of time because the nice clothes get drool and dog hair all over them.

I don't think I can go the allergy route - they know I'm not allergic. My mom was going to ask them tomorrow when we arrived, but I think it would go over better to give them a little advanced notice.

TLDR: I'm not a dog person, none of the rest of the family likes having the dogs underfoot and harassing us all day. BUT I think sister and brother-in-law will be pissed if we tell them that and ask them to keep them in another room.

What reasons besides "I don't like your dogs" can I give them that won't ruin Christmas?
posted by firei to Human Relations (42 answers total)
You could always say you developed an allergy, as some people develop them as adults. Or, failing that, say you were recently attacked by a dog (but not bitten, because otherwise they'll wonder why there are no marks), and as a result you're now really, really nervous around dogs and would they mind as a special favour putting the dogs in another room.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 5:16 AM on December 24, 2013

Could you get them a really-nice-delicious-bone-to-end-all-bones? When I'm trying to keep my dogs from bothering people, giving them a super special bone that they can work on in the other room for a long time keeps them occupied for a loooong time. Deer antlers last a long time. A big Kong filled with peanut butter and kibble and frozen also works well. Whatever you get, make sure you get 2.

Then it will come off as you being awesome and getting them a Christmas present, rather than hating the dogs.
posted by melissasaurus at 5:18 AM on December 24, 2013 [33 favorites]

Response by poster: quick follow-up before I go to work: I just saw them on Sunday (briefly) and didn't mention a dog attack or allergy, so that might be a bit suspect. (good ideas, though).

thanks, carry on. :)
posted by firei at 5:24 AM on December 24, 2013

Perhaps counterintuitively, I think 'I don't like your dogs' may be a viable option. At least it's about your personal preferences and isn't inherently judgmental. It's the 'Nobody wants to be here, nobody likes your dogs and by the way you're a terrible cook' stuff that would make you come off as a jerk.
posted by jon1270 at 5:41 AM on December 24, 2013 [17 favorites]

Do you have a grouchy Uncle Bob that everyone is sort of afraid of annoying, lest he complain all night? If you're too polite to ask her to put the dogs away, you could try to get cranky Uncle Bob to do it for you. Everybody knows that Uncle Bob is a jerk who speaks his mind, but it's best not to tick him off. Then you could do a good-cop, bad-cop thing with Uncle Bob to smooth it over with your sister – "Oh, I know, Bob is being totally unreasonable, but whatever makes him happy."
posted by deathpanels at 5:52 AM on December 24, 2013

Seconding the kong toys with food inside. Also, behold the mammoth bone. Reviews say it lasts two to three days so it should work for a few hours.

Regarding the cooking, why not go early to help cook? I'm sure your sister would appreciate a helping hand with all the main and side dishes and you'll get some quality time with her.
posted by donut_princess at 5:59 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I so empathize with you because my sister is the same way.

I also so realize that my sister and I can push each others buttons like no other. It's not just that the dogs are smelly and gross, its that she's messy, a bad cook, I learned to cook why couldn't she, the undisciplined dogs are just like how she was growing up, and I was always the responsible one, and damn it! my clothes are going to be all smelly when I go home, she never took care of the things I'd lend her! And! And! And!

So yeah. The response you need to have is to back off 100%. Let your mom handle this. Mom has volunteered, and sister will likely take it much better from her than you.

Sister probably realizes the dogs are crazy, but doesn't care because she's a dog person and she's used to it. If you bring it up, you're the horrible dog hating person. And you've always been so critical of her growing up, and can't you realize that she's a different person from you, and you were always so uptight about appearances! And! And! And!


And, you know the solution to not have crappy food to eat, is to bring tasty food yourself right?
posted by fontophilic at 6:00 AM on December 24, 2013 [29 favorites]

The only option I would go for is what Melissasaurus is suggesting, and even that option may not work so well, given labs' love of playing fetch and bringing those messy new bones and toys around to every person at the party.

You could try it, though... or just keep your mouth shut.

When someone is being generous (or feels they are being generous) by opening their home for a gathering, you just can't walk into their house and tell them how to do things. You are best advised to just smile, get through the evening, and campaign really hard to host it yourself next year.

I feel your pain. I am not a cat person, but my wife loves them so we have a few at home. Tolerating them is hard work as it is. Then, when I go to see my wife's parents for Christmas for few days each year, I have to put up with a house that has eleven cats. Cats everywhere... hair all over my stuff, a couple of rooms with litter boxes that constantly smell like cat poop... constantly having to watch my step because of the two old cats that poop and vomit everywhere randomly.

But I have to smile and have fun, because I will be an asshole if I complain or criticize. It's not my place to say anything; it's not as if they have some obvious hazard to anyone's health, or the cats are neglected, or anything like that. I just don't like their cats, and that is not enough of a reason to whine and complain.

Just grin and bear it. There's always next year, and it's only one evening.
posted by Old Man McKay at 6:02 AM on December 24, 2013 [13 favorites]

It's really ok if your sister and her husband are miffed. It sounds like nobody has asked them this before. This is common in families but it's really unfair to the person who isn't in on the big secret that everyone else knows & whispers about & is about them. They won't be miffed forever. You're avoiding a minor miffed-ness and being left with a family-wide, long-term, major annoyance.

Of course ask your sister to keep the dogs in the basement or whatever. There's nothing wrong with this. I am a dog lover beyond reason but I put my dogs behind closed doors when people come to my home who are not comfortable with their affection. (Those people are fools but I don't get miffed about it.)

Just don't replace the dogs in the room with another elephant in the room. Talk about it - "Your dogs are really sweet and I love them, but it's so nice to just be able to spend time together."

You can also tell your sister you're bringing your signature Christmas dish(es) to share. "I'm making it anyway and partner loves it and it wouldn't be Christmas without it so I'll make enough for everyone."
posted by headnsouth at 6:10 AM on December 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Can you ask if she would consider putting a baby gate up? You could get some space from the dogs and they might not feel quite so separated from their people.
posted by Jeanne at 6:36 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

christmas is one of the worst times to deal with the "i've been building this resentment for a long time and now i'm going to let you see it." grin and bear it one more time and then at a time when it's not a major holiday that everyone gets weird over, mention that you love the dogs but would also sometimes appreciate hanging out with your sister and her family without getting drooled all over. if you were going to say anything about this, your chance was last week when you were over there - 24 hours before you show up when she's probably already started prepping is just going to ratchet up any bad feelings.

bring the dogs a bone, bring a fabulous corn bake (or whatever), wear clothes that are nice but wash easily, and have fun with your family.
posted by nadawi at 6:39 AM on December 24, 2013 [7 favorites]

Despite no one wanting to go there, it seems that we're doing Christmas at my sister's house this year.

It's not too early to plan Christmas 2014 so it's not done at your sister's. Take charge!
posted by Carol Anne at 6:40 AM on December 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

I think the only solution is a large glass of scotch. I think this is a suck it up, take one for the team event. I would try, after one of the dogs drooled on me, to ask your sister, "Oh, dog#1 just drooled all over my pants. Do you have a wet towel I can use? Is it possible that we put the dogs in the basement with a bone until after dinner?" I think you have a 40% chance she at least tries to keep them apart from the company at that point.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:00 AM on December 24, 2013 [8 favorites]

I agree that advanced notice is better, your sister will probably need to plan something to contain/entertain the dogs. If your mom offered to do the talking, maybe she could give your sister a call tonight.

I also agree that it's okay if your sister is annoyed--she offered to host, and keeping the dogs from harassing guests is not an irrational thing to ask for.

For whatever it's worth, it might not be so simple for your sister to put up a baby gate or lock the dog in another room. I know with my dog (who is a high-energy golden retriever), if we put up a baby gate, he will just freak out and bark at us and cry because he can see or hear ALL THOSE PEOPLE WHO AREN'T PETTING HIM OMG CRISIS.

Is there a family member who would volunteer to take the dogs for a walk, or at least out to run around in the yard (if your sister has a yard) when the dogs get crazy? It's a lot to ask, of course, but a dog that's entertained and tired is going to be a lot better behaved. Your sister might be doing so much getting ready for Christmas that she doesn't have the time to give the dogs an extra long walk to wear them out.
posted by inertia at 7:03 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

"Sister, I can't come over because I can't handle your dogs jumping all over me. I'm sorry."
posted by disconnect at 7:07 AM on December 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Food: Bring something that can look like a side dish but serve as a main course for you. Lasagna, any kind of cheesy casserole, a rice and beans dish with lots of meat, collards and bacon, stuffed cabbage rolls, biryani, paella, and so on. There are a lot of one-pot dishes that are traditional for festive occasions that would fit. If you have any kind of immigrant family heritage, use that as inspiration. The thing about these is that they take some extra work to make, but that's part of why they're traditional holiday food. Then just serve yourself a big portion and take only little amounts of other things, and have a big lunch beforehand. Savor your coffee or tea afterwards (and if she's that bad of a cook, insist that you make it for yourself, and her, as thanks for dinner.)

Clothes: Simple. Just don't dress up. You're in a family home and one that's distinctly more casual on account of the dogs all the time, I'm sure. The only person judging you here is yourself. Wear something washable and leave it at that. If you really need to Christmas it up, go in the direction of big sweaters. Try more festive accessories, maybe, if you need that feeling of specialness. If it's a matter of taking a big family photo and wanting to look nice, maybe bring a change of clothes that you can pack away, afterwards?

The Dogs Themselves: Part of what's happening is that these dogs don't respect you; they see you as equals and probably want to play with all their exciting new friends! It's kind of too late now if you have no experience with this, but most dogs will respond pretty well to calm authority in humans. If you don't give them any response, they'll learn pretty quickly that you're boring and not worth the bother. There are scads and scads of questions on AskMe that have great answers on how to deal with dogs; try reading up on them for some assistance in how to act and not to act.

Corralling the Dogs: If you're in an area that isn't freezing, you could probably ask that the dogs be put outside while you eat, at least. That doesn't seem unreasonable to me, a definite dog person. I know a lot of people would appreciate the chance to wash up one final time before tucking in, without the dogs interfering. The above suggestion of a bone or other toy that will occupy them a long time is a good one, too. But you need to understand; these dogs are family, too. Think of them like the drunk, racist uncle, if you must, but they're more like the children who act up, instead. They're not actually at fault and are a breed that loves more than anything to be with family. Your visit? Is actually a gift to them. I know that some people just don't experience dogs that way at all, though. I think you have to be clear with your sister about this! Because I know that I assume people feel the same way about dogs as I do (basically, all the dogs! dogs for everyone! and also kitties!) unless I'm told otherwise. Then, I will immediately take pains to keep the dogs' attention on me and the other dog people, and not on the people who have told me they're uncomfortable.
posted by Mizu at 7:12 AM on December 24, 2013 [8 favorites]

I think the context of how your sister came to be hosting Christmas dinner is important here: is she doing it because she insisted, and prevailed over offers by other family members, or, is she doing it because, despite everyone's misgivings about the way she cooks and runs her home, nobody else stepped up?

If it's the first one, having your mom broach the issue is a good idea. Just in case that doesn't work, bringing a delicious bone and suggesting that the dogs go into the basement to enjoy it should do the trick.

But, if it's the second one, your sister might be justifiably annoyed. After all, the dogs are in their own home, and she is being generous in offering her hospitality. My own rule of thumb is that guests, and even guests of guests, are welcome on the understanding that they have to be willing to put up with the (hopefully less obnoxious than you describe) attentions of my little pug. If they're not, they're free to eat, drink, and be merry elsewhere.
posted by rpfields at 7:18 AM on December 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

Help with the cooking and/or bring a dish yourself, wear something machine washable, and let your mom handle talking to her about the dogs.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:33 AM on December 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

Have some empathy and appreciation for your sister. And establish a relationship with the dogs.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:40 AM on December 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

The things you could have control over:

1) What you wear to her house so it doesn't get gross (so what if "that is what we've always done" ... wear some jeans and move on).
2) The food you offer to bring to make sure there is one good thing you can eat there.
3) The gifts you can bring her dogs to keep them occupied.
4) The offer to walk the dogs or play with them outside until they are too tired to care.
5) Attending in the first place.
6) Hosting your own event.

Things you don't get to have control over:

1) Walking in to someone's house who has planned, paid for, and cooked a giant family meal and telling them where to put their dogs.
2) Showing resentment that your fancy clothing is getting ruined and you don't like their food- and expecting that to go over well.
posted by haplesschild at 7:43 AM on December 24, 2013 [42 favorites]

I agree with haplesschild--there's not much you can do here. But the offer to walk the dogs (or go for a nice, long Christmas walk with dogs and a family member) sounds like a good plan. Do that as soon as you get there, and there's a good chance you'll get some of that doggy energy out and have a more peaceful Christmas as a result.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:53 AM on December 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

I don't have a problem with dogs, but I have a problem with bad owners who raise undisciplined dogs. It is not unreasonable for you not to want to be harassed by two uncouth hounds, even if "they just want to play". You don't need to take them for a walk or be their friend.

Since your mom is going to handle it, I think that is the best course. However, I think your mom should make the call now rather than spring it on your sister as she crosses the doorstep. People don't like to be surprised in cases like this, and I think the sooner your mom addresses it, the better everything will work out. But, after your mom has dealt with it, no matter how it turns out, accept those results whether it is exiling the dogs to the backyard or having them roving throughout the house all night. You can also leave as soon as you like after dinner if things get too bothersome.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:06 AM on December 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

I can understand why you'd be annoyed but what I don't understand is why you're trying to fit your holiday requirements into her home, where they don't fit. Even if you suggest it kindly, some people not going to quarantine their dogs for an evening. Still, I'd let Mom handle this.

You don't have to dress up fancy, you don't even have to stay all evening. (You could, quickly, go on Groupon and buy a dog training certificate but that might not go over too well, either.)
posted by sm1tten at 8:07 AM on December 24, 2013

I really feel for you, my mom used to have two Goldens like this, I was not yet a dog person myself, and every visit was those dogs all over me and making me extremely uncomfortable. It was obvious to anyone who cared to see how uncomfortable they made me. But--I never said anything. Because I was her guest. And that's just the way it is. Some things you just have to endure.

(And now that I have dogs of my own, I'm super conscientious about putting them away when we have guests.)
posted by HotToddy at 8:08 AM on December 24, 2013

Life is short. Don't go, make other plans.
posted by dbiedny at 8:21 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Eat before you go so you're less offended by all of the food she's bothered to purchase and prepare for you.
posted by cestmoi15 at 8:52 AM on December 24, 2013 [8 favorites]

As a dog person: you will get much farther on the dog front by explaining that you aren't really a dog person and would have more fun if they could play outside (if applicable) or in another room/part of the house. I liked melissasaurus' suggestion to get a bone or other toy for the dogs to distract them. (Although as a lab-lover, I have to admit that it might not work perfectly.)

Complaining about fur and drool will only make you look fussy (I mean...aren't you going to wash your clothing afterwards, anyway?!) and uptight. And definitely don't lie to your sister about having developed an allergy or having been attacked by a dog recently. Lying is not festive.

Seconding, sm1tten: I can understand why you'd be annoyed but what I don't understand is why you're trying to fit your holiday requirements into her home, where they don't fit. If the dogs and less-than-amazing food are so horribly unbearable for you, just don't go.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 9:10 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have your mom talk to your sister (or someone who is less fed up with the situation than yourself) but encourage her to do it right away today or tonight so there is time to make arrangements if necessary. "Honey, we really appreciate you taking on all the work of hosting the whole family at your house, and we love the dogs, but I/we was/were really hoping that this year we could try to put the dogs somewhere else, in a room or outside. I'm just not a dog person like you guys. They get so excited with everyone there and I miss being able to relax and talk with everyone because I'm worried about the dogs."

Offer to go buy a gate (maybe they're too big and rambunctious for this), chew toys, bones, etc. Taking them on a walk is a decent idea, or get other family members on board and willing to take turns distracting/giving the dogs attention so everyone else can talk and relax, until they're tired out.

Surrender, enjoy your family, wear casual clothes.
posted by dahliachewswell at 9:17 AM on December 24, 2013

There are some dogs who can't be shut up in another room when there are people over. They'll just go crazy barking and clawing at the door, which is likely to be even more disruptive. Given that these dogs are untrained and undisciplined, it is very likely that they are in this category. It's entirely reasonable to ask that they be put elsewhere, but realize that it may not be a workable solution.
posted by Wordwoman at 9:42 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

As one option, I tell other people's dogs how to act around me all the time. Of the owner is letting them jump on me, for example, I tell them 'no', turn my back, etc., then I reward them for good behavior. Not your responsibility, of course, but it may make it easier if everyone is assertive over the dogs, and it might be a good example for your sister. If someone's child or a strange man was jumping and drooling on me, I would tell them 'no' as well. Dogs don't get a free pass over our boundaries just because. If you do this, do bring a Kong or some way for them to release the energy that they didn't get to release by jumping all over you.
posted by Vaike at 10:35 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have kind of high-maintenance dogs, and try to be sensitive to the needs of visitors, but you'd put me in an awkward position if you brought them treats (there will be fights under many circumstances) or tried to walk them. One of them has to be walked alone, which makes the others in the house insane, and also we have some issues with other people's loose dogs (also skunks), so I'm pretty careful about when and where we walk and who walks them. Some dogs you can just leash up and take out whether you know them and the area or not, and some you can't.

Go (unless you just can't take it) and keep an open mind, if they are again a problem ask your sister as politely as possible if there's somewhere you can all sit where it won't be so bad and/or if there's somewhere they can go for a while. She either will or she won't.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:52 AM on December 24, 2013

There are books about dog training. It is Christmas. Voila! the perfect gift for your unaware sister and her people-loving Labs.
posted by Cranberry at 12:01 PM on December 24, 2013

As for the food and dog hair, I don't think that there's anything that you can do about it. It's very rude to criticize your host's home.

Now, as for the drool and jumping dogs, it has always been my belief that everyone has an inerrant right to their own body and if they want it to be touched or not. This includes unwanted touching by children and animals. You have the right to not want dogs jumping and drooling on your body. Having said that, normally I would suggest that you give some leeway to children/dogs/etc. because they probably don't know any better, but given that this has apparently happened more than once with no attempt by the owner to correct it, I would politely speak up.
posted by Shouraku at 12:07 PM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with JohnnyGunn about sucking it up as best you can and indulge in some adult beverages (if you are so inclined) to numb the aggravation ever so slightly. Mr. Adams and I have a very good friend who always invites us to either Thanksgiving or Christmas (whichever holiday we're not going to be with family - we don't have kids, our respective parents are aging and not up to big celebrations, etc). But Friend, while always a "pet" person, has in the past two years become more fanatically involved with her local Rescue Shelter and Pit Bull rescue/fostering in particular. And these holiday dinners (by the way, she's not the greatest cook, either, but she loves to prepare big meals) are now accompanied by her three permanent Pitties, any fosters that might be in residence, and her three cats who are apparently never discouraged from hopping up on the dinner table. Any time her husband tries to shoo one of the animals away, he is chastised by her for being "mean" to the animals. So dinner is less a relaxing eating and sharing occasion than a constant dog muzzle either drooling on your thigh or snuffling at your fork as you eat.

All you can do is accept that that's what passes for "normal" in their household, and then go home and have your own celebration a day or two later (as Mr. Adams and I do....despite it being only the two of us, I'll still, say, roast a small turkey breast along with some stuffing and side dishes a day or two after Dinner With Best Friend just to have our own, personal, unmolested holiday meal.)
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:37 PM on December 24, 2013

What happens with the dogs when you are actually eating? Would it be a good compromise to ask for the dogs to be put up during dinner? We put our dogs in their kennels when we have guests over for dinner - they generally chill out about 20 minutes after guests arrive, but I think it's obnoxious to have them circling the table!
posted by radioamy at 12:42 PM on December 24, 2013

Here's what I would say:

"I love your dogs! But they're super exuberant and I'm getting all tense about it. Would it be OK if they played outside or in another room or something? I brought some toys/a bone for them. I'm so sorry for being uptight!"

Then I'd go with your sister to help put them up or take them outside, give them their new toys/bone, and play with them for a couple minutes before going back to the festivities.

In general, I think it'll go over better if you make the problem about you, not about the dogs, and frame it as a favor (not as a punishment for the dogs or a call out of how your sister runs her household). If your sister won't do you a favor on Xmas she's being a jerk, so she's probably going to do it. On the other hand, if it seems like you're bah-humbug-ing these adorable creatures she loves and cares, and on Xmas of all days, you're the one being a jerk -- so don't frame it like that. Not framing it like that includes not talking about how the dogs (and her dog-hair-strewn house) are getting your clothes dirty or how the dogs would be "happier" away from the family or lack discipline, etc.

On the clothes front in general, just assume ahead of time that whatever clothes you wear are basically going to get ruined, and choose your outfit accordingly. And with the food, sure, bring some stuff. And/or drink a little more heavily than usual, it'll make the food taste better.
posted by rue72 at 2:05 PM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could be my brother - though I really make an effort to train my pup, he is still young, and not 100% obedient yet. And my brother hates it. However, he is very good at telling the pup, and any other dog, that he is really not a dog person. (Our family and many friends are mostly dog-loving, I don't know what it is with my brother..)
He keeps very calm, arms still and down the sides, and when the pup does attempt to jump up, he firmly pushes it down, holding the neck. (no violence or loud noises) It takes less than ten minutes for the pup to get that he needs to find another friend. Then my brother washes his hands thoroughly and relaxes, undisturbed for the rest of the evening.
Obviously, I am not your sister, because I do train my dog, and my family seems to enjoy my cooking. Also, I always keep the dog on a leash when people arrive and he is most excited. But what my brother does to control the pup is entirely on his own and works regardless of whatever I do.
I've noticed that a lot of people who are uncomfortable with dogs often do things that will agitate them - like lifting up their hands, or moving quickly, or trying to "brush off" the dog with wavy hand-movements, or scolding the dog with what sounds like barking for the dog. In most cases, I believe it is the dog-owner's responsibility to control the dog regardless. But since you in this situation risk a mix-up of all sorts of other issues with the dog-issue, I'd suggest you study how to make the best out of it, like my brother has.
posted by mumimor at 4:44 PM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Re: food, it's mostly too late to rearrange for this year. But if your sister is the only one willing to host, the rest of you could easily divvy up the dishes and just show up with food. Bonus for you, it's better food. Bonus for her, she doesn't have to slave in the kitchen all day in addition to cleaning her house before and after having you all over.

Re: dogs, I totally hear you. Both my sisters have dogs, and while I'm not a dog person, I've come to develop a mild affection for each of the dogs over the years. Luckily, my sisters are both on board with dog training, through one dog is still extremely exuberant and one is still extremely slobbery. Dogs will be dogs.

If you are really hoping for the dogs to stay separate at Christmas, you really just have to work out with your sister what (if anything) will keep them somewhat happy, and you have to be ready to chip in your share of time/money. It might be really good toys/bones that you pick up (possibly a bit late at this point). It might be a long dog playtime beforehand -- if you can take them out, great, and if the dogs only go out with sister or spouse, what can you do to help while that's going on? Really all you can do is ask, and be ready to contribute.
posted by ktkt at 8:02 PM on December 24, 2013

I have a very sweet lab. When we had our family day last weekend, my sis-in-law brought a bone for her. She loved it, and it entertained her the whole time they were here.
posted by raisingsand at 8:45 PM on December 24, 2013

The dogs love you without condition. They are so happy to see you they lose their manners. Dogs aren't good at barriers [says everyone with a crotch ever].

Maybe try and interpret their behavior in light of the above. If not, I understand. I was six when I was riding my Schwinn five speed slowly by a [relative to the size of damn near anyone] giant black Afghan - which proceeded to chomp on my ass. I evenutally got over my fear of dogs - ironically the fear informs how dogs respond to you. Somehow I'm terrified of chickens [roosters especially] and geese though. Panicked would be a fair assesment. I will fight any dog, unless he has a rooster friend.

So, yeah, it's ok to not like dogs, it's ok to not like cats, and it's really ok to live in fear of chickens and geese. But keep in mind dogs are family to a lot of people. They sometimes serve as both alarm system and protection [and unlike other members of the family they don't steal money from you for candy or, later, drugs, they don't hate you [quite the opposite], they don't care if you are slender, they don't care if you are overweight, they don't ask you about your clothes or hair, they could not give less a shit about your grades, significant other, profession or choice in entertainment. They don't hector you about visiting the doctor to get your whatever checked, The only thing they care about is that you are their friend]. Yes, I like dogs.

As above, bring a bone and maybe some food.
posted by vapidave at 9:01 PM on December 25, 2013

Or just stay home. The dogs live there - you're a guest. If all that's waiting for you there is "crappy food" and two "annoying dogs" - my advice would be to skip the whole affair.
posted by aryma at 12:54 AM on December 26, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the advice. I ended up not saying anything - I think that it was a bit late in the game to bring it up. I seemed to have forgotten in my grumpy panic that it was christmas eve already! Despite this, the dogs were the calmest I've seen them in the seven years that my sister has had them. I also took the advice in the thread and did not wear my pretty Christmas dress, which meant I didn't spend the entire day dreading droll - only about a quarter of it. ;)

So, Christmas was pretty nice, despite the dogs! And next year I hope to be in my own place and perhaps I will be in a position to host.

Thanks again, mefites!
posted by firei at 5:31 PM on December 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

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