You don’t say how long you’ve had this dog, but surely you remember from having children that teaching good manners, and how to control one’s bladder and bowels, takes patience. You surely understand the feelings expressed in 1660 by the great diarist Samuel Pepys: “So to bed, where my wife and I had some high words upon my telling her that I would fling the dog which her brother had gave her out the window if he pissed the house any more.” But a year later Pepys had a portrait made of his wife with the dog in her lap, which he writes, “made us very merry.” Invest now in some dog training classes and have the whole family participate. It’s likely that with perseverance and discipline on all your parts, you too can end up with a dog who makes you merry. But let’s say the dog never significantly improves. Stop dwelling on the irrelevant fact that you didn’t choose this puppy. It just may be that no matter how much you pour into your dog, he will never become the housebroken, loving pet you envisioned. For 10 years I had such a dog. Despite several trainers, endless vet visits, and even Prozac, she only just tolerated our attempts at affection and it wasn’t until after her death that we were able to put the rugs back on the floor. We now have a devoted, delightful, housebroken Cavalier who is everything we hoped a dog would be. Today’s dogma is that your dog’s behavior is all your fault. This is odd since we now recognize that certain disabilities or wiring problems can cause children to behave badly and we no longer blame that on the parents. If a concerted effort with this dog doesn’t work, you need to have some difficult conversations with your husband about finding the dog a more suitable home. If you got him from a breeder, contact them because sometimes they will take back a dog that just doesn’t work out. I’m prepared to be told to roast in hell, but a pet should be more than a presence you simply endure.
I'm a 25-year-old currently living with my parents, who are in their early 40s. They are planning to move out of my childhood home, which is also where my father grew up. They’ve found a smaller property and the other night my mother told me they are going to be cleaning out everything, including all of my baby items, stuffed animals, and toys. I had hoped I could give these things to my child one day. That's where the second part of my issue arises. I have endometriosis, and that, along with another complication, means there’s no guarantee I'll be able to have children. Because of the same condition, my mother had at hysterectomy by age 30. I always thought I would marry young like my parents, but that hasn’t happened. I want to ask my mother not to throw my things out, but is that just selfish of me?
There’s nothing selfish about your desire to keep some remnants of your childhood. I would think your parents would also want to retain a handful of these items. But it seems you have imbued these objects with a totemic power: If you keep them to pass on to your child, that reassures you that someday you will have that child. Much more important than your old toys is doing everything you can do to preserve your fertility. Make sure you are seeing a gynecologist who is well-versed in your conditions, and if you need to be in the hands of a specialist, ask for a referral. As for your memorabilia, perhaps a family member with an attic or basement can put a box or two into storage for you. You can buy vacuum-sealer bags or even make your own. That way a bunch of stuffed animals can be shrunk down to a container you fit under a bed. Remember your child is not going to recapitulate your childhood, so pick a few meaningful objects, then let the rest go.
More Dear Prudence Columns
“My Twin Sister Says I'm Fat: Prudie offers advice on twins entangled in family rifts, rows, and rivalries.” Posted Aug. 25, 2011.
“Give Grandpa a Kiss-Off?: A creeping suspicion tells me to keep my father-in-law away from my kids. Should I listen to it?” Posted Sept. 1, 2011.
“Longtime Companion: Is it OK to hide my gay affair since my wife doesn't want sex anymore?” Posted Sept. 8, 2011.
“Deadly Family Secret: My mother-in-law hid a life-threatening condition that could strike my child. How can I forgive her?” Posted Sept. 15, 2011.
More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts
“Type "R" for Revenge: Dear Prudence advises a woman who got her cheating ex fired by sending a nasty email—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted Aug. 29, 2011.
“The Nudist Next Door: Dear Prudence advises a reader whose new neighbor needs better curtains—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted Sept. 6, 2011.
“Am I Dating a Swinger?: Dear Prudence advises a woman who craves a monogamous relationship but can't seem to find one—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted Sept. 12, 2011.
“He'd Like a Virgin: Dear Prudence advises a woman who lied to her fiance about her sexual past—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted Sept. 19, 2011.