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DINNER INVITATION DOESN’T INCLUDE DOG - NO MATTER HOW FINE THE CANINE

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I don't mind friends who want you to love them.

What bothers me are the ones who insist that you love their dogs as well. I know people who can't understand why I don't find their pet the most wonderful animal in the world - like they do.I invited some friends over for dinner the other night. Bob Healy asked if he could bring his dog, Pasta.

I said no.

He asked, "Why not?"

"I don't have enough soup dishes."

"Tell me the truth - you don't like my dog."

"What difference does it make if I like him or not? You're the only one he needs for a friend."

"Pasta is one of the greatest dogs in the world. He's kind and gentle and only bites strangers."

"He could have one of Demi Moore's shoes in his mouth and I still wouldn't want him over for dinner."

"We're in a spot," Healy said. "We'd like to come to dinner, but at the same time we don't want to leave Pasta at home. It would be the second time this week we've gone out without him."

"This is nothing personal, Bob, but if I wanted a dog as a dinner guest I would have invited one. Please explain to Pasta that he's not being rejected because he has lousy table manners."

I could tell that Bob was getting more and more upset when he said, "You don't know anything about pets. They're family. We take Pasta everywhere we go. People like you have no sense of the bond we share with our animals. I don't think you realize that when you refuse to accept Pasta, what you are saying is, `Healys, you can come into my house but your dog is not welcome.' "

"That's exactly what I'm saying."

"What's the difference between a dog and a human being as a dinner guest?"

"A human being doesn't get under the table and slobber all over your pants. He doesn't put his paws on the table hoping that someone will give him a slice of beef, and he doesn't wander around the living room licking people's shoes just as they get to the punch line of a story."

"Maybe we won't come over after all."

"That's your choice, Bob. But I refuse to be blackmailed into inviting Pasta."

"For heaven's sake, give me one good reason why he can't come."

"OK, Healy, I'll tell you the truth. He would make 13 at the table."