Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ask Kelli: Bad Dog, Bad Friend, Bad Co-Workers?

Dear Kelli,

My dog was attacked by a neighbor's dog while I was walking my dog. It was an unprovoked out-of-the blue attack and the resulting injuries have run up an expensive vet bill. I plan to sue my neighbor for the cost of the vet's bill if she doesn't pay, but here's my question: Should I also report the dog to animal control? If I do, they'll investigate, require her to attend classes and add her to a "list." That means that if the dog attacks another dog or another person next time, it could be put to sleep. I don't want that to happen, but I'm also concerned that the dog might hurt another dog again -- or worse, a child.

Puppy Pal

Dear Puppy Pal,

I’m sorry about your dog. What happened was scary and you are absolutely right -- dangerous both for other dogs and for children as well. And I also understand your dilemma about this dog being put to sleep if it happens again. I’m a huge animal lover so I hear you loud and clear.

So here is what I’m thinking: Go over to your neighbor’s house and have a sit-down. First discuss what happened then hear her point of view. (If you allow her to feel heard she is less likely to be defensive.) Next talk about the vet bill and what she plans to do. After that, explain exactly what you told me: that you don’t want to report her dog but are worried about other dogs’ and children’s safety. Ask her what she would do if the situation was reversed and see if she has any ideas that are appropriate. But if she doesn’t have any suitable ideas, tell her you thought about this and you are willing for her to hire a dog trainer specializing in aggression or she and her dog could attend a similar canine class. If the trainer works with the dog for an extended period of time and believes the dog is okay -- and unlikely to harm other dogs and children -- you will not report the attack. Same goes for if the dog attends a class and passes. But your neighbor must show you the receipt and/or allow you to talk directly with the trainer.

In the meantime, please take pictures of the bite and document exactly what happened so you have a record.

Good luck,

Dear Kelli,

I recently went on a camping trip with two other friends and we had a falling-out with one of them who happened to be a friend I've known for over ten years. This ex-friend became very argumentative and borderline dangerous, so after we got back from the one-week trip, we all went our separate ways. A week later he sent both of us a list of expenditures which included the initial hotel and transportation cost, and on top of that the cost of his own camping gear and bikes which
he still has. We reimbursed him for the hotel and transportation but refused to pay for his things even though we all used them, because there was no prior agreement or understanding that we would cover those costs. He is relentlessly asking for this reimbursement, but he is unwilling to meet with us to discuss the matter.  In spite of attempts by both of us to reconcile with him, he has threatened to
take us to court for $250 each.

My lawyers are saying this would be a frivolous lawsuit. My medical friends think he may be having a psychotic breakdown, that he is trying to get attention, and may act out his anger even if we paid him off. We think paying what we do not owe would be giving in to extortion under harassing and intimidating conditions.  However, his lack of self control of his latent anger (which I now realize has been probably brewing for quite some time) worries me. My question is: What should I do to minimize escalating his anger, as I do not want to give in to his financial demands?

Looking Over My Shoulder

Dear Looking Over My Shoulder,

My question to you is this: In all the ten years of knowing your friend has he ever behaved like this? Did he show any of these “psychotic” traits when you were friendly? (Just trying to understand if this was uncharacteristic of him or he’s always been a little off and you just dealt with it.) Usually people with anger issues or mental health issues exhibit these behaviors throughout the relationship and show “red flags.”

My advice on how to minimize escalating his anger is to have no more contact with him. I’m tempted to say pay him off just so you don’t have to deal with him anymore, but my fear is that your ex-friend has some serious mental health issues. The best way to deal with people like that is to have absolutely no contact with them (so they don’t have anything more to grab onto).

If you simply looked at the situation rationally, you paid for your share and just as you said, you didn’t have any agreement prior to the trip to pay him for the use of his equipment. Your other friend agrees, so it’s really your word and your friend's word against his. I’m not a lawyer but chances of a successful lawsuit on his end are slim. It’s doubtful he’d sue anyway. Lawyer bills alone might be the same, if not more, than what the lawsuit would be worth!

As I advised the previous writer, document everything that happened that weekend (and even previous “red flags” you noticed to prove mental health issues).

All the best,


Dear Kelli,

I work in a team setting. I’m efficient, responsible, and get my work done without reminders. My teammates are more “relaxed.” Things are always done in the 11th hour. I’m going out of my mind! How can I get them to think more like me?

The Efficient One

Dear Efficient One,

Here’s what’s interesting: You didn’t say your co-workers don't get things done; you just said things get done at the last minute. So the problem isn’t the fact you have inefficient co-workers, it’s that you have co-workers who work differently from you. That doesn’t mean their work habits are wrong. It just means they have a different work style.

Listen, I’m on your side here. I’m like you: I get my stuff done. Pronto. And sometimes even early. But you just have to respect the fact that other people may take a different approach.  Some people work better under pressure. (I know, how?) Others work better with more of a timeframe.

You have to do your part, then let it go. In other words, submit your end of the deal (on your own timeframe) and let the others submit their part of the project on theirs.

Of course, hold them accountable. (“Okay, John and Rick, I submitted Part A. So, John, you’ll do Part B by 12 am, and Rick you’ll do Part C by 12 am?")

Even though it’s frustrating waiting for your co-workers, try not to let that influence your own work habits. I’m sure people respect your work ethic even if you've heard no comments on it outright. So continue to do good work and you can never be faulted.

Good luck,

1 comment:

  1. I like what you wrote about the dog situation. You have a situaion that could explode, and you have excellent suggestions to defuse it.

    However, it's up to the neighbor with the bad doggie, but it's not like you didn't warn s/he before you call the authorities.

    Great advice on the rest, too!