Color Etiquette 01.26.17Two of my sons have dogs. One lives at a distance so when he visits, it’s always for an overnight or two, and he brings the dog, who gets along well with our dog, with our permission. It’s a nice dog. The other lives less than half an hour away and has a dog that is aggressive and disruptive. It attacks our dog regularly, chews furniture, and often relieves itself in our house. Because his brother is permitted to bring his dog, we feel it isn’t fair to tell him to leave his dog home, but don’t want it in our house. What do we do?


You are honest and tell him that you love to see him anytime, but that he can no longer bring his dog, for all the reasons you mention. Basically, it’s your house, your rules, and you have every right to protect your own dog from attack and your home from destruction. It isn’t about fairness unless all circumstances are equal. In this case, they are not equal since your nearby son’s dog is ill-behaved, and you can only hope that he understands the difference.


We planned a New Year’s Eve dinner party, inviting another couple for the evening. Late morning on the 31st, they called to say that they couldn’t come because out-of-town friends had just called to say they were coming to visit. I couldn’t accommodate additional guests, so couldn’t say, “Bring them along!” To us, it felt like something better than our dinner party came along so they chose that, instead. Are we wrong to feel hurt?


No, because clearly, your friends should have said, to the visiting friends, “we’d love to see you but we have plans that evening so won’t be able to spend time with you.” Good manners are that one honors an existing commitment, especially with only hours to go until the event. You certainly would have worked hard to plan a nice evening and surely spent money on food and drink for them. Only a sudden illness or family emergency excuses a last minute cancelation.


I’m left-handed and hold my knife and fork differently than a right-handed person. To avoid awkward elbow-bumping, I find it easiest if I sit at the end of the table, with no one to my left. When at a dinner party at someone’s home, is it incorrect for me to ask to be seated this way, especially if there are place cards that position me between two people?


You may ask, but it is best to do so at the time of the invitation so that the hosts, when devising their seating plan, can accommodate your request most easily. To wait until you arrive and find yourself in the middle might be disruptive to the plans that they have made. If your elbow action is really a problem, your choice is to cut your food and eat like a right-handed person if you haven’t asked in advance.


Questions for Catherine? Send them to [email protected]