Ask Amy: Dog parents bark at one another over sitter

Dear Amy: Several years ago, one of my neighbors asked if I would give her the name of my long-time (about 13 years at that point) dog sitter/walker.

This neighbor said that she and her husband never traveled, so she would use the dog sitter only for occasional walks.

I gave her the number.

Now the neighbor and her husband have begun traveling and have been booking my dog sitter for a week (or longer periods) sometimes a year in advance, so that I can no longer rely on the availability of the dog walker.

This neighbor has also given the name and number of the sitter to another neighbor.

I asked them, out of courtesy, to alert me a few weeks before they plan to use my dog sitter and to get a dog sitter of their own if I need my original sitter.

They both say they won’t do this. They won’t even allow me to use my dog sitter to walk my dog while they are using the sitter for week-long stays.

What is the etiquette in this situation?

— Dognapped Woman

Dear Dognapped: I understand how frustrating this is, but — a clarification: This person is not your dog sitter, but a dog sitter who makes their living walking dogs and dog sitting for clients. This is not an etiquette question, but one of how to get your own needs met.

You are one of this person’s clients, and — just like other clients — you will need to book your appointments well ahead of time in order to secure your slot in their increasingly crowded schedule.

You should talk to the dog sitter and explore your options. Their other clients cannot insist that this person cannot walk dogs for other clients while dog sitting. It is the sitter’s responsibility to serve various clients responsibly.

There are many in-home pet services advertising their business through various apps and websites. It might be time to find a reliable backup for those times when your regular person is not available.

Dear Amy: A few years ago, I realized that I could afford to send small amounts of money, $25, $50 and, once in a while, $100 to worthy charitable organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, the National Geographic Society, Habitat for Humanity, etc.

I am now practically buried by requests for money from the 30 or so charities I’m supporting, with letters coming two or three times a month, from each charity, long after I’ve sent in my yearly check.

I recently took a massive box-load of these request letters to my recycling bin after an 18-day trip.

It’s a terrible waste of paper and so hard on the environment.

How can I make them stop? I thought of writing a letter that says I will donate one time a year and if you send me one extra appeal I will stop altogether, but I think that no human would ever see it and stop this inundation of paper.

And an aside, I get mountains of return address labels that I’m now throwing away (I used to cut them up) and I wonder if this is a bad idea. Could someone get into my trash and use those return address labels for some nefarious reasons?

By the way, even the museums I belong to do this same thing: long after you pay your membership fee, they keep hounding you.

Managing all this junk mail is such a waste. Please help.

— Buried in Santa Cruz

Dear Buried: Charity Navigator ( has some helpful suggestions for how to stem the tide of unwanted and wasteful solicitations.

Don’t give small amounts throughout the year, but a larger amount once a year.

Go to the charity’s website, look for “mailing preferences” and ask for no solicitations.

Only donate to charities that have a verified “donor privacy” policy and won’t sell your information to other organizations.

Contact the charity directly (by phone) and ask staff to immediately remove you from their mail solicitations. Notify them that if you receive any more paper solicitations from them, your support will end.

And yes, shred or destroy those mailing labels.

Dear Amy: “Sad and Suffering” was trying to control her partner’s life by claiming that she needed him to be with her every second while she underwent chemo treatments. He took his grandchildren away for a week for spring break.

My reaction? Give me a break.

— Disappointed

Dear Disappointed: So far I am the only person expressing sympathy toward this woman, who was coping with a new diagnosis.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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