Dear Southern Miss,

I have a problem.  I have several friends who have furry friends that they love to treat like family.  That’s great for them but I cannot stand animals and I am very turned off to going to my friends homes because I do not want a dog or cat sitting on my lap the whole time or begging for food from the table.  What do I do?

Animal Intolerant

Dear Intolerant,

Oh dear, this is a problem!  I have a pet of my own but I have found myself in this situation many times while in other peoples homes.  Many pet owners don’t take the time to train their animals, which leads to complete annoyance when guests are in their home.  If you find yourself in this situation again, kindly approach the hostess, letting them know you are uneasy around pets and, while “Fluffy is so pretty,” you are apprehensive to have the dog (or cat) around.  If the hostess is hospitable, she will attend to the dog (or cat) accordingly.  In any instance, don’t be afraid to be bold and make it known upfront that you are not comfortable.  Don’t be rude, but be honest.  If the pet causes a rift between you and the hostess, it’s not your fault.  The pet should be trained and/or managed while there are guests in the home.  The last thing you want to do is have to get up and leave early, due to the behavior of a pet.  But, if you find yourself in that awkward situation, you must do what is best.  Sometimes it takes what seems like “harsh” actions to get the message across.  When  you leave, thank the hostess for the meal and let them know that next time you would love to have them over to YOUR home.  Dealing with furry friends is a sensitive subject but when you practice kindness and honesty, a good hostess will graciously understand.

-Southern Miss