by Kiki Nelson | Oct 24, 2017 | Animals, Ettiquette, Food, Host, Hostess, Travel, Uncategorized
My husband and I enthusiastically offered to keep my sister-in- law’s dog at our house while she and her
husband attended a wedding further North.
Mollie is a Shetland Sheepdog. I think technically she’s considered a Blue Merle, but she’s white with
markings on her head and cute as hell. She looks like a cotton ball on very tiny legs. She’s also very
ladylike which is a sharp contrast to our 18-month- old Boston Terrier, Beans. They’re the Beauty and the
Beast of the K9 world with a large dose of hyperactivity thrown in. We found ourselves yelling at Beans
more than usual simply because of the contrast in styles.
This translated into pretty much every doglike behavior. When Mollie drinks, her little pink tongue juts
out quickly and quietly with not a drop left on the floor to show her efforts. Beans sticks his whole face
into the bowl, slurps loudly, and trails water all over the house. Sometimes he wipes his face on the cat’s
head, which is hilarious! Oddly enough the “Cat From Hell” doesn’t seem to care.
When we let the dogs outside to do their business, Beans took off like a bat outta hell and popped a
squat almost immediately. Mollie delicately worked her way down the stairs and was immediately
assaulted by Beans who apparently wanted to help. We started taking them out separately in deference
to Mollie’s feminine sensibilities. We also fed them separately. This was not because the dogs have poor
mat manners but because the CFH always horns in.
Beans wanted to play non-stop. He loves to share a tug toy with anything that moves and was constantly
offering Molly the other end of a rubber ring, which she declined. Beans has amazingly strong jaws and
can tug with a great deal of force, in fact I don’t even play tug with him. Mollie preferred sitting on our
laps and looking pretty, understandably so. But there was an incredibly sweet moment near the end of
the visit when Mollie went into her crate, came out with a fuzzy toy, and offered one end to Beans.
Beans gently took the other end and played “tug” on Mollie’s terms. Beans may be obnoxious but
apparently, he’s not stupid. Maybe that’s why my husband and I are so goofy in love with this dog.
With guest pets, much like children, there is always the issue of different homes, different rules. Mollie
is fed treats; which Beans is not. Mollie barks a lot more than Beans. During Mollie’s visit, Beans’ default
was, “when in doubt bark with the other dog because there must be something going on that I don’t
know about.” This created the effect of Beans hoping around, barking his fool head off, with a confused
look on his face.
Mollie’s people came back for her on Sunday night and I’m sure she was glad to see them. She’ll be back
for Thanksgiving and I’d like to think Beans and the CFH will be glad to see her. I’m not so sure about
Mollie, but I hope she enjoys the change of pace if nothing else.
Thank you for visiting.
by Kiki Nelson | Sep 12, 2017 | Ettiquette, Events, Food, Host, Hostess, Travel, Uncategorized
Many years ago during a television interview with the actress Bonnie Hunt, she said her family used the “Door Bell” method of housekeeping. You don’t bother to clean until the doorbell rings. While I don’t personally subscribe to this method, I do appreciate it.
I feel strongly about guests showing up early. I am strongly against it. Unless you’re having a medical emergency—in which case you should probably go to the hospital first—please don’t come to my house or event one second ahead of the stated time.
I was reminded of this concept several times in the last couple of weeks. I went to a baby shower in Jersey where half the guests showed up early. What is that all about? Is it a Jersey thing? The baby Grandma was rushing around trying to put the finishing touches on a lovely venue and was forced to entertain at least two dozen people ahead of schedule. Another friend of mine was hosting house guests who gleefully texted they’d hit the road sooner than expected and would be hours early. What! For God sakes, take the scenic route! Yet another acquaintance works weddings. She told me about an event just last weekend when many of the guests arrived at the reception venue half an hour early and actually banged on the doors. When she did let them in several people demanded mixed drinks even before the bar was set up.
For those of you who don’t get it, here’s the deal. Most of us mortals don’t keep a spotless house and must prepare for visitors. I take pride in presenting a clean home or well prepared venue. My mother used to say it should look like a stage set when folks walk in and then everything can go to hell. This prep takes a certain amount of time and scheduling because I have other stuff going on. Some of us also have pets so it doesn’t make sense to start cleaning a moment too soon because all will be re-fuzzed within minutes. When I’m done cleaning and prepping food, I like to enjoy a glass of wine while I prep myself. If you show up early, I miss the one part of party prep I enjoy.
Many people will say, “I thought you might need help so I came early”. If I need help, believe me I’ll ask for it in advance. I’ve never been accused of martyrdom. If you volunteer and I politely decline, I’m not being polite, I really don’t want you early. No one is that helpful. Some people will assume their bond with the hosts is strong enough that it doesn’t matter if they show up early and just hang out. Unless you’re still in the womb, there is no bond strong enough for an early arrival.
I realize I’m a little crazy about time. I worked in the television news business for many years where every second was accounted for. Time really WAS money! The only exception was 16 years ago when the clock stopped and we threw revenue to the wind in order to supply a platform for our community to grieve.
My family tells me this television-time perspective has left me with an unhealthy attitude toward punctuality on both ends of the punctal spectrum. OK, I can live with that.
Do you mind people showing up early? Don’t you cherish those last few moments when you can look around your house and admire your work while sipping Prosecco and applying mascara? In my husband’s case, it’s drinking beer and watching whatever sport is on TV (sorry son, I know you hate stereotypes but it’s true.)
Thank you for visiting, and not a moment too soon.
by Kiki Nelson | Jul 5, 2017 | Animals, Diet, Ettiquette, Events, Holidays, Host, Hostess, Travel
I was fortunate to spend my Fourth of July weekend as the guest of a couple who live in a lovely home on Chesapeake Bay. I arrived on Saturday afternoon, about two hours before my hosts’ annual Fourth of July celebration began. I had been asked to arrive early, get settled, and help with a few chores.
Our hosts provide crabs and corn while everyone else brings a side and their beverage of choice. This leads me to a hosting issue which I hear frequently. When hosting such an event is it better to assign sides or let the chips (and dips) fall where they may? If it’s a large event such as this, I like the free-form event. Folks get to make their specialties and if someone doesn’t show up, there isn’t a hole at the table that the hostess may feel obligated to fill at the last minute. But I know it bothers some folks to have too much of one thing and not enough of another. In this case we had a lot of pasta salad and one guest was heard to remark, “With a little planning this wouldn’t have happened.” I guess my thought is, who cares? Thoughts?
Several couples spent the night and I was in charge of breakfast Sunday morning. As usual we had an assortment of diets including vegetarian, pescitarian, and pregnant. With the help of another guest I made a huge load of bacon, pancakes, homemade blackberry syrup, fruit salad, and watermelon salad. For future reference, that combination seemed to work really well. Two of the couples peeled off to go home and the remaining six people spent a relaxing day puddling around in the water and eating leftovers.
On Monday we gave our hosts a break and went to Calvert Cliffs along with the other remaining guest couple. I almost hate to promote it, but this is an amazing 4 mile hike along a shaded path through forest and bordering several different ecosystems. You end up at a small swimming beach on the Bay with an amazing view of the cliffs. It’s also dog friendly, and our Boston Terrier swam for the first time. We headed about seven miles down Route 2 to Soloman’s Island for lunch. Again, found a dog friendly restaurant with shade and really good sandwiches. That night we took our hosts out to dinner. Really nice day.
On Tuesday, one couple went to check out Chesapeake Beach, two of us went to a small-town parade, and two of “us” stayed on the couch all day watching Robocop movies. I love a parade, there’s something about gathering with other people on Main Street America and complaining about their children that I enjoy. That night the other couple treated us all to pizza.
We could see fireworks from different localities from our hosts’ backyard every night. I also love fireworks.
This trip reinforced several of my best practices.
1) When you have a group staying at your house for several days, it’s helpful if people can entertain themselves, at least during the day.
2) It’s OK for people to do different things. Guests shouldn’t be pressured to participate in activities that don’t interest them. When someone on vacation is forced to do something they don’t want….it shows and takes away from the enjoyment of others.
3) Don’t complain or make negative comments about anything. If there is a serious safety or comfort problem, don’t whine about it, suggest a solution. “I know we need some room in the fridge. Mind if I toss this mayonnaise-based salad that was out on the sun for 10 hours?” “I know it’s just me, but do you mind if I turn the AC down just a couple of degrees?” You know stuff like that.
4) If you bring a pet, take responsibility for it! The first night, my bad cat woke everyone up at 5:00 am yowling in the hallway. Once again, my apologies.
I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend.
Thank you for visiting.
by Kiki Nelson | Mar 22, 2017 | Animals, Ettiquette, Host, Hostess
This week’s blog is dedicated to my K-9 friend Beau Call, who is now sniffing butts in doggie heaven. He was a good and faithful servant. The pic with this post is not Beau, he was much more dignified.
This week I address the challenge of pets and houseguesting.
I would like to thank my veterinarians from Ashland Veterinary Hospital (ashlandvethospital.com) for providing me with their expertise on the subject.
First of all, don’t travel with cats unless you have to. My vets agree with me on this one. Cats are creatures of habit and generally don’t travel well. You’re always welcome to disagree with me, but you’ll have to wait until I’ve staunched the bleeding from my last trip to my sister’s with my cat!
That pretty much leaves dogs, and I must say that some of our best guests have been dogs…I’m looking at you Puddles.
Suggestions for the Guest:
- You are responsible for your dog’s behavior at all times.
“There are people who think their dogs will never do something aggressive…and they do. Even the nicest dogs will snap.” The Ashland Vets advise keeping your dog on a leash while indoors, especially if there are children or other pets in the host’s home. They say that by erring on the side of caution you are protecting your dog as well as those they come into contact with.
- Make sure your dog is up to date on all shots and medications recommended by your vet and find out about the environment where you will be staying. You may need preventative medicines that aren’t necessary in your home area.
- Don’t assume it’s OK to bring your dog with you as a houseguest without checking. This has happened to us.
- Ask permission once to bring your dog. If the host says “no” for any reason, please don’t press the point. That creates an awkward situation for the host.
- Put your dog’s kennel or ground pad in the guest room along with his toys and dishes. Feed the dog in this area and leave him there when you can’t watch him. This will prevent what the Vets call “resource guarding.” Rawhide is a common source of resource guarding.
- Pick up your dog’s poop from the host’s yard and let them know where you have deposited the load so the host isn’t surprised when they take out the trash.
- Don’t let your dog dig in the host’s yard.
- Dogs that jump on people and furniture are not cute to anyone but their owners. Another good reason to keep visiting dogs on a leash when inside.
- Exercise the dog so it is calmer indoors.
- Don’t ever blame the host (or the host’s pets) for your dog’s behavior. Remember, you have created this situation.
Suggestions for the Host:
- I repeat my number one Best Practice for Hosts, “Your ultimate responsibility is for the safety and well being of the family and household you have created.” If you have any reservations about hosting a pet, it is your job to say “no.” You are not required to provide a lengthy explanation. If you provide specific reasons they can be countered with comments such as, “Oh, my dog is hypo allergenic.”
- If you decline to host a guest’s pet, offer alternatives such as a local kennel or veterinarian that boards. “I’m sorry we can’t accommodate Ginger at our home, but I’ve heard good things about ____________.”
- Warn your guest of any issues they may have with a pet at your home. For instance, you may have an aggressive or elderly dog who does not play well with others. Or, your apartment is on the 21st floor and the elevator is slow. You get the idea.
- If you agree to host an animal try to relax and enjoy the visit. Right Puddles?