As I am sure you are all brutally aware, I despise unsolicited advice. Well meaning as it might be, it makes my shoulders twitch and my eyebrows raise. If you want to guarantee I don’t do something, make a “friendly” suggestion. I am sure to do the opposite. It’s not necessarily a part of my personality of which I am proud but I have been this way as far back as I remember. At least as far back as my teenage years.
My poor, long-suffering parents.
Because I am so sensitive about unasked for opinions, unless explicitly implored, I typically hold back from offering helpful hints to others. Support and encouragement, yes. All the time. Advice, never. Even when I can see someone really struggling. After all, who am I to tell someone what to do? Chances are the other person is just as smart or capable as I am to figure it out.
Can you tell there is a however coming?
On Sunday, I read a post on Something Wagging This Way Comes that made me wonder if I am wrong in keeping my thoughts to myself. Maybe a little friendly education can be kind.
I have this friend. Let’s call her Alice. I am pretty sure Alice doesn’t read this blog – at least, I hope she doesn’t. Alice has two dogs. One was inherited through her partner and one she purchased as a puppy about a year ago.
The older dog has no training. At all. He is so wild neither Alice or her partner can even walk him. This dog spends 97% of his life outside. This alone doesn’t bother me as the dog is of a breed who may prefer to live outdoors. It’s more the fact that the dog is left to his own devices for the same amount of time. He is put in the backyard and left alone. Almost permanently. Alice doesn’t feel this dog is her responsibility as he belonged to her partner before she moved in. They throw food in the yard for him and fill his water dish and that’s pretty much it.
The younger dog, I recently found out, was brought home to be a companion for the first. I don’t think I need to elaborate much further.
Alice isn’t a bad person. She grew up with a dog and has always loved animals. Though we’ve had our differences in the past, I don’t think she is being deliberately neglectful. She has a pretty busy social life and her partner is often away for work. Alice may just not realize what her dogs need.
Up till now I’ve stayed silent. But after ruminating over Pamela’s post I wonder if I am doing Alice and her dogs a disservice. Instead of just shaking my head and moving on, should I reach out to her? Offer my help?
I know there is probably a better way to do this. Perhaps a gently worded email, something like “I hear you have been having difficulty with your dogs. I have some experience with issues like these and may have some suggestions for you if you are interested…”
Would that be too forward?
How would you handle this situation? Should I just mind my own business? I do worry for her dogs and am afraid one or both of them may find themselves in a shelter before too long. Alice clearly needs some help, but is it really my place to step in? If you were Alice, would you be open to a little unsolicited advice?