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Hound is nothing but trouble during his owners’ vacations

DEAR ABBY: My daughter and son-in-law’s dog, “Zeke,” is a poor houseguest. We have kept him several times while they were vacationing. This last time, a long weekend, was very stressful.
Zeke is a hound dog (58 pounds) and stubborn. He jumps on furniture, jumps up to the kitchen counter and dining table trying to steal food, urinates in the house (not all the time, but often enough), doesn’t want to stay outside in the backyard unless someone is out there with him and, when he is outside alone, he constantly howls. He also chases our cats.
Whenever it’s muddy in our fenced backyard, he must be taken out to the front yard on a leash or he will catch a scent and run off. There are also potential sparring matches with our own dog that must be monitored, and at feeding time, they have to be separated.
Our daughter’s last trip was to be for 12 days. We said we didn’t want to keep him for that long, but we would continue to keep him for short stays. This has been a sore spot with her ever since. She feels Zeke is our “granddog,” and we should keep him anyway. I do not know how to handle this without causing any more bad feelings. Please advise. — ABOVE AND BEYOND IN TEXAS
DEAR ABOVE AND BEYOND: Your daughter’s dog is too much dog for you to handle and, in addition, poorly trained. He isn’t your “grand” anything. Stand your ground and quit trying to placate your entitled daughter. She should be grateful that you’re willing to take responsibility for the dog even for a short time. If that isn’t enough for her, “bow-wow” out by refusing to take Zeke at all. He’s her dog, and the problem should be hers, not yours.
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DEAR ABBY: I am an empathetic person, and because of it, most of my friends and family members share things with me that they are going through in their lives. I feel pain with and for them, and have shed many tears with these people.
Most of the time, this is something I am happy to offer. I understand that not everyone has the same level of empathy or the skills to “be there” when people are going through a rough patch. But right now, I thought it might be good to share some things I have noticed when the roles were reversed and I found myself needing to share with others:
1. It’s not a competition! Now is not the time to share your similar experience. Let the person sharing just talk and resist the urge to relate your own stories.
2. Don’t try to offer solutions unless they are asked for. The majority of the time, the person just needs to say it out loud to someone, and then they are able to get their head or heart around it and figure things out.
3. Just listen. That’s all any of us want. We want to feel heard and important and that we matter. Listening can provide that to the person who is in pain.
Abby, thanks for letting me be heard. Even the strongest friends sometimes need someone. — LEARNED FROM EXPERIENCE
DEAR LEARNED: AMEN! Life is about learning and growing. There is much wisdom in your letter and a practical lesson for those who sometimes put their foot in their mouths because they only want to help. Thank you for sharing.
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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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