How To Ask My Friend To Come Get His Dog
April 4, 2019 5:33 PM   Subscribe

Help me firmly, but nicely, tell my friend his dog can't stay with us any longer. Details below.

A friend of ours went into the hospital with a pancreatitis attack. This was last Sunday. On Monday morning as his husband (who I'll call Bill) prepared to go to the hospital to visit him, their house began to flood.

Long story short, the pipes under the slab had chosen this incredibly bad moment to make it known that they had been leaking under the house for some time. 2/3 of the house had water coming up. I went over and handled the plumbers and landlord, while Bill went to the hospital. Bill asked me to take his dog home with me when I left. I agreed reluctantly. I didn't see what else could be done, there were plumbers and insurance people coming and going all over, and it wasn't clear if Bill was going to be able to stay in the house that night.

The problem is, we've (my husband and I) told these friends before that their dog can't stay at our house because she tries to kill our cat. She's a sweet little beagle, but she's extremely prey driven. Our cat is a sweet cat who loves our own dogs, and probably would be no match for the beagle, even if she didn't take him totally by surprise.

We've had the dog here since Monday, and we are making the best of things, but its significantly affecting our lives. We have to have one person at home at all times, or the beagle freaks out, crying and scratching the doors etc. One of us has to sleep downstairs on the couch every night because the cat is locked in the bedroom, and if we are both in the bedroom the beagle goes crazy scratching and yipping outside the door which terrifies our already stressed out cat. Today the beagle almost caught the cat, because I mistakenly opened the door when the dog was right behind me.

I have a lot of sympathy for Bill, he has been staying at his house during all the repairs. The leaks are fixed but the insurance has packed up his furniture and things in much of his house. They(its unclear) may have to rip out 2/3 rds of the floors and maybe some drywall. Bill's husband is still in the hospital. Bill thinks they may release him this weekend. They will go to a hotel if the house is not livable. Its a horrible situation, and I really feel for him, but I need him to take the dog back this weekend, or find another place for her to stay.

What is the best way to word that request? I would be willing (not sure if husband would agree) to help pay for a couple days of kenneling for the dog if need be, but I don't want to wind up paying for months of kennel stay. While I love Bill's husband, I often felt Bill has had no qualms about taking advantage of me and other people in the past. I'm not keen to have it happen again.
posted by WalkerWestridge to Human Relations (21 answers total)
Find a kennel. Tell Bill "hey we can't keep Rover, we are taking him to stay in x kennel, we can pay for two days but after that you'll have to pay them for longer or have someone collect him".
posted by the agents of KAOS at 5:39 PM on April 4, 2019 [17 favorites]

Present it as a solution. Friend, we've found a kennel for Beagle so you can be free to deal with the house. You will have properly researched a really safe kennel, of course, but you've gone way beyond what's fair. .
posted by theora55 at 5:40 PM on April 4, 2019 [18 favorites]

Bill, we can't keep the dog any longer, he's really stressed out there and he keeps trying to kill our cat. I wish we could do more to help, but we're just not set up to give your dog the accommodations she needs.

Bill, we can't keep the dog any longer.

Bill, it's not going to be possible.

Bill, we have to get the dog out of the house by Sunday at 3. Please let us know where we should bring her.


If you need to sweeten this by helping out with the kennel, give Bill your contribution in cash. Do not give your own credit card payment credentials to the kennel. Definitely talk to (or encourage Bill to talk to) local kennels though, as there may be some who will offer reduced rates given the circumstances.
posted by prize bull octorok at 5:46 PM on April 4, 2019 [9 favorites]

Just explain what's going on and kindly say you're sorry but you can't keep the dog anymore. Offer to pay for boarding for a few days if you feel like it, though I think that's above and beyond. Surely you're not their only option? I have certainly had my own dog care scrambles, but for that very reason, I always try to have a few people in mind who can watch my dog in a pinch.
posted by lunasol at 6:04 PM on April 4, 2019 [8 favorites]

Knock. Knock. Knock. "Oh, hi Bill! Look who I have! She missed you sooo much. Glad I was able to help."
posted by crw at 6:04 PM on April 4, 2019 [27 favorites]

I've never visited a kennel that would allow someone who doesn't own the dog to have it boarded. On top of that, the staff is likely going to ask and attempt to verify information about the dog that I doubt you have, like proof of vaccinations. And on top of that, researching and verifying a decent place that can accommodate this dog can take a lot more time than you may want to devote to this task, plus you really do not want your contact and financials to be on the record for this.

I think you should take the dog back to Bill (depending on whether you think he'd dodge you, I'm not sure whether you should call first or not. I assume that you've been communicating with him since you've taken the dog on, though). You can OFFER to help pay for a couple of days (frankly, I wouldn't) but I think you need to just be honest with Bill that you cannot keep Dog because it is too disruptive to your household and while you are sympathetic to his situation, this is simply not a thing you can continue to do because his prey-driven dog is trying to kill your cat.

I know, I know, easier said than done.
posted by sm1tten at 6:06 PM on April 4, 2019 [21 favorites]

Best answer: I think just flat kicking the dog out without comment (“it’s simply not possible”) is a jerk move, especially under these circumstances. I mean, these are your friends. You want to stay friends, yes? You want to help, just not in this way, yes? So be firm, but be kind and collaborative. (If Bill digs his heels in, that’s when you pull out “it’s not possible” on repeat.)

“Bill, it’s not working out to have your dog stay with us. She’s stressed out and constantly trying to attack our cat. We know you’re going through an incredibly hard time, and we want to support you through it, but we can’t keep your dog any longer. We need you to find a new place for her by $day. If it helps, we can research places for her to go, make phone calls for you, even pay for a kennel for a night or two. Hey, she’ll probably be happier without our dumb cat bugging her anyway! And let us know if we can bring you a casserole on Tuesday.”

Well. That’s what I would do, anyway.
posted by the_blizz at 6:18 PM on April 4, 2019 [47 favorites]

“Hey Bill, Dog and Cat are both getting stressed out living here and it’s not good for their health or safety to be together. I’m going to swing by and drop off Dog at [time when you know he’ll be home]. I don’t know what kennel or sitters you guys use, but I’m happy to come by and get you and we can take Dog over there together if you need Dog to stay out of the house while the work gets done—just let me know. Husband and I would love to gift you a couple days of dog boarding just to help make the last week slightly less horrible. Let me know the rate and I’ll hit you up on Venmo.”

posted by sallybrown at 6:20 PM on April 4, 2019 [26 favorites]

Can you ask your mutual friend group if one of them might be able to take the dog?
posted by Ftsqg at 6:30 PM on April 4, 2019 [14 favorites]

Like, you have literally not just asked him to pick up his dog? I mean, that seems like the simplest place to start.
posted by drlith at 6:39 PM on April 4, 2019 [28 favorites]

Given that one person is in the hospital and the other is dealing with a major house crisis, this is a hugely stressful time for these people. Yikes. Of course you're not strictly obligated to do anything here, but given that these people are your FRIENDS and are going through a rough time, might you call or email around, or otherwise put the word out among your circle to see if you can corral some friendly dog-sitter for what, at this point, should only be a few more days?
posted by swheatie at 6:44 PM on April 4, 2019 [16 favorites]

If you don't have any other friends that they might trust with the dog, it would be kind of you to do research in finding a suitable kennel or maybe a dog-friendly hotel if they end up needing it, and then just be honest with Bill that you are no longer able to keep the dog. If he doesn't understand or care that your cat is legitimately at risk of being attacked by his dog, I don't know what else you can say to a person like that.
posted by wondermouse at 7:04 PM on April 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You are such a good friend. You already went above and beyond by going over and handling the plumbers and landlord.

This situation is exactly what insurance is for. Since you mentioned insurance came and packed up his furniture, presumably a claim has been started. The next step is to get a pet-friendly hotel and getting insurance to pay for it, preferably up front. They should do this right away. If you have the extra spoons, or just to move things along, you can help make the phone calls.

If they are literally too overwhelmed to executive function, find out who their vet is. Most vets also board pets, and the beagle will already have a record there. This will buy you a couple of days while they sort things out. Send the invoice to insurance.
posted by dum spiro spero at 7:12 PM on April 4, 2019 [23 favorites]

"I know you're going through an incredibly tough time now, but we're finding it increasingly difficult to keep the dog at our house due to our cat and other issues. Do you know of anyone else you trust who might be able to take the dog, that I can help you contact? Failing that, I think we need to look into kennels which is something I can help you out with as well"

That might be more than you're willing to help with, but it's what I would write in that situation given that your friends are in such a tough situation.
posted by bearette at 7:14 PM on April 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

I've never visited a kennel that would allow someone who doesn't own the dog to have it boarded. On top of that, the staff is likely going to ask and attempt to verify information about the dog that I doubt you have, like proof of vaccinations.

This. After my cousin’s suicide, my brother and I took on the dogs, allegedly for a 48 hour stay at their regular kennel. We had an intake appointment, told the kennel the situation, finagled an exception to their rule about non-owners boarding, volunteered to pay cash, called their vet for vaccination proof (and they were, of course, out of date), and it was still a nightmare. We wound up having to update all three dogs’ licenses and vaccinations, and because we foolishly provided a credit card per their requirements, we wound up with giant additional charges when the understandably distraught widow didn’t pick them up on time. I’m glad we could help, but it was a huge unanticipated financial hit. Don’t do it.
posted by carmicha at 7:25 PM on April 4, 2019 [20 favorites]

How incredibly stressful for everyone but no, you can't keep a dog that is s physical danger to your own pet. Call a few kennels and get prices / drop off information; call a local foster group and get information about emergency foster care for this dog whose owners are in the hospital and disaster-ed out of their home (respectively). Then drive the dog over to Bill's and say "I'm sorry but Dog is too stressed in our house and we fear for the safety of Dog and our Cat. I am leaving Dog here with you along with information about kennels and foster care."

Although I also like the suggestion that you call the dog's vet or a mutual friend and ask for help.
posted by crush at 7:44 PM on April 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

Meanwhile, until you find a solution, is the dog crate trained? Can you borrow a crate from a friend? If he's been trained to be okay with a crate, you can crate him except for walkies until you are able to work things out. It will keep him calm and keep your cat safe. (This situation is a perfect example of why all dogs should be crate trained if possible.)
posted by HotToddy at 7:51 PM on April 4, 2019 [11 favorites]

Best answer: I know you’re taking the beagle in as a kindness to your friends, but from a possible perspective of Bill, I’ve had my share of family medical crises where I’ve camped out at the hospital, and I can’t, really and truly CAN NOT exaggerate how traumatizing it would be if friends of mine took care of my dog while my loved one was critically ill and my dog INJURED OR KILLED THEIR PET. You really can’t keep this dog in your house, not just as a Miss Manners “that won’t be possible” personal space boundary, but because this situation is genuinely unworkable for you, your partner, your cat, and Bill and his husband. Tell Bill his dog already attacked your cat— the truth— help pay for a kennel if he actually can’t right now, reach out to mutual friends, whatever, but you really can’t keep the dog at your place. Please don’t feel guilty about that; it’s what you need to do.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 8:28 PM on April 4, 2019 [22 favorites]

Okay, addendum to this, “they may have to sleep in a hotel” while insurance takes care of the house means they can pay for a kennel, or stay in a hotel or motel that takes pets. This situation sucks, but for some perspective, friends of mine have lived out of their cars with their aggressive, friends-can’t-handle-this-animal dogs while their partners were hospitalized, because they were homeless, could not afford a Holiday Inn pet suite, and couldn’t take the thought of their dog inevitably harming their friends’ pets. Bill is in an unpleasant situation but he isn’t actually in anything even close to a desperate enough situation that you should feel even a little bit obligated to keep his dog that almost killed your cat in your home, or should even be considering paying for a kennel.

Text Bill saying — again the truth!— that his dog attacked your cat, and that she can’t stay at your home, you’re going to drop her off tonight. Enlist a friend who doesn’t have problems saying no to people if you have to, drive over there when you know he’ll be home, and drop off the dog. Again, personal experience, he can take the half hour to drive to the nearest PetSmart and board his beagle there.

“Hi Bill— we tried to keep them separated, but Sadie came after Catra. Thankfully no serious damage was done, but we really just logistically can’t keep her safely in our home. We’ll be by tonight with her after work— she missed you so much, too, she’ll be so glad to see you. Give our love to [husband].”
posted by moonlight on vermont at 8:52 PM on April 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you for the help everyone! Bill is going pick up Beagle tomorrow and take her to one of his other (catless) friend's houses. Thanks for helping me navigate this as gently, but firmly as possible! I'm very relieved for everyone's sake!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:17 PM on April 4, 2019 [39 favorites]

Response by poster: Also, because someone asked, I had called Bill earlier in the week, to take the dog back, but I wishy washed it, and he said he couldn't get her. I didn't know where to go from there, so we kept the dog another two days. I was starting to get worried because he hadn't said anything about be able to take her back so I wanted (and got - thank you) some good ideas about how to proceed with this.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:23 PM on April 4, 2019 [8 favorites]

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