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Don't like dogs? Don't sweat it

Don't be ashamed you're not a dog lover

Q: I was attacked by a dog at a very young age and have a fear of them. As a result, I'm not much of a dog person. I was recently informed by a close friend that I should be cautious of saying it. Most people are "dog people," and to meet someone who's not is . . . well, weird. My friend had a point. When I unknowingly tell "dog people" I don't like dogs, the response is defensive.

For what it's worth, I also loathe Swiss cheese, cantaloupe and Mexican food. Are these distastes I shouldn't express?

Anonymous

A: Yes, when there's no point to sharing them. But if it's part of a larger story, conversation or decision about where to eat, then it's relevant and there's no need to stop yourself. Your distaste doesn't reflect on anyone but you; people have no need to get defensive, unless you use bad information or stereotypes, in which case I think you do need to expect someone to correct you — gently, I hope.

Which brings us to dogs. Unless you're wrong, nasty, judgmental or tweaking dog owners on purpose, the dog-lovers who get defensive are actually out of line. They may love dogs, but you don't have to.

Sometimes things are better left unsaid

Q: What if, instead of dogs, it's children you don't like? Are people similarly out of line for getting defensive if I mention in passing that I don't really like kids? (I would never say anything about a particular kid, of course.)

Like Dogs

A: As with a dislike of guacamole, it's best kept to yourself unless relevant, but if you speak your mind in an appropriate context, it really is your prerogative to find kids obnoxious.

What isn't okay, since you didn't ask, is to give people dirty looks just because their kids are acting like kids and you don't like kids. If you're in an R-rated movie or four-star restaurant, okay, but in general we all have to have realistic expectations of each other, whether we like each other or not.

Don't like dogs? Don't sweat it

06/20/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 12:16pm]
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