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Carolyn Hax: Friend gives dog as unwanted gift, won’t take it back

Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: I have had a tough time lately for a lot of reasons. A friend told me a couple times, “Get a dog — dogs make life better.” I said I don’t want a dog. And then he showed up at my house with a dog. Before I could fully process what was going on, the dog was in my house and my friend was in his car driving away.

I do not want this dog. It’s been here two days and has already made a mess and my neighbor is annoyed by the barking. I texted my friend to take the dog back and he said, “Give him 30 days and if you still don’t want him, I’ll take him. But I guarantee you’ll be in love by then.”

I do not want this dog for 30 more days or one more day. I don’t know where my friend got it, so I can’t take it back. Is the next step calling animal control? What else can I do?

Tough Time: The poor animal — your friend was so thoughtless and irresponsible to do this to both of you.

Call to tell your friend the dog is creating neighbor problems and must be removed today. Either he picks him up or says where he got him, or regrettably you will choose a nearby shelter. In the meantime, research the most humane local shelter. No-kill, clean, spacious and well-staffed make my wish list. A local veterinary office would know the landscape.

This is heartbreaking. And your friend has a riot act coming his way.

Re: Unasked-for dog: Why is the burden of researching a shelter, etc., on the letter writer? Why didn’t you suggest they make it the “friend’s” problem?

Anonymous: Because I am more concerned about preventing further animal cruelty than dotting the i on whose burden it is to prevent it.

Tell us: What’s your favorite Carolyn Hax column about becoming an adult?

Dear Carolyn: A recent writer talked about not being able to say a significant other looked hot. But when you love someone, shouldn’t you want to make them happy?

Where is the line between resenting that your partner won’t do small things that have great value to you and determining they aren’t able to?

Can’t or Won’t?: When you’re dating, ask yourself whether your needs are getting met. Not whether they should be met, or how minor a change it would take, but whether it’s actually happening.

Credibly — not just because someone’s working hard at it.

If they’re getting met, victory. If they’re not, and you’ve asked explicitly, and if a reasonable waiting period hasn’t yielded real change, then accept defeat.

In other words, the “can’t” vs. “won’t” distinction is useless except for crazy-making and blaming.

A reader’s on-point experience:

· My partner wouldn’t tell me he loved me, even after I’d reiterated how much it would mean to me. I got so wrapped up in why he wouldn’t say it, trying to discern what was preventing him from saying it, that I did make myself a little crazy. Finally, I understood the why didn’t matter. The fact that it should have been easy for him to do it didn’t matter. He wasn’t going to do it, and I needed to make my decision based on that information.

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