Wherein Mrs. Linklater performs interventions on advice columns -- a public service for which she receives no personal remuneration
MOM'S DOG DAYS ARE EVERYDAY
Published November 6, 2004, Chicago Tribune
My mother, who is in her late 70s, lives alone with her standard poodle, "Bonaparte." She refuses to go anywhere unless we agree that Bonaparte can go too. When one of us offers to take her to dinner, the poodle waits in the car. She won't visit family members either, unless Bonaparte is welcome.
For Mother's birthday, I planned a special outing at a lovely restaurant and a matinee performance of a show that was in town. Mamma refused to go unless we took the dog. It wasn't appropriate, so I told her no. She refused to go and is still mad at me. She continually tries to make me feel guilty for "spoiling" her birthday.
How can I make my mother realize that the dog is an animal companion, and there are times when she needs to enjoy the company of people sans her dog?
-- Had It Up To Here In New Jersey
Dear Had It: Some people are so fond of their pets they are reluctant to part with them, even temporarily. Your mother appears to be one of them. She has made her feelings clear, and I doubt anyone -- myself included -- could persuade her to socialize without him. Because you can't teach an old dog new tricks, when you invite your mother and the dog out, make sure there is plenty of air circulating in the car and a water bowl so Bonaparte will be safe and comfortable.
Mrs. Linklater butts in -- how can she not?
Far be it from me to actually be helpful here, since that’s not in my nature -- but this seems like such an easy fix.
Considering that Bonaparte is clearly the Emperor of all your mother surveys, why not join him instead of trying to beat him. There's nothing quite so pathetic as a child trying to fight for her mother's affection over mama's sweetums poopsie. Sorry, honey, you lose.
And Mrs. Linklater does not consider putting a bowl of water in the back seat and leaving the air conditioning on an acceptable alternative.
Pretty much every town with more than five dogs has doggie parks, doggie beaches, and doggie daycare centers. So instead of doing things at venues that eschew the presence of canines, why not invite your mother on a picnic to one of the canine parks so she can watch Bonaparte frolic with some new friends and she can enjoy a sandwich with you. Don’t forget something for Bonaparte, too.
When the weather gets cold, spend some money for an afternoon at a doggie daycare. Or an afternoon of dog grooming. Do a dry run some afternoon so your mom can see that Bonaparte loves hanging with his homeboys. Or getting his hair done. And she won’t feel like he’s being left out if you want to take her someplace where he’s not allowed.
There, I can’t believe I actually tried to offer some real advice. I hope this doesn’t happen too often. Mrs. Linklater has a certain reputation to maintain.
BTW -- if you have a question to ask Mrs. Linklater, think twice before submitting it, because she may actually take the time to answer it. At your own risk, of course.