Dear Abby: Pet sitting in friend’s filthy home grosses me out

The cats don’t get much attention because the sitter can’t wait to flee the cluttered floors and dirty bathroom.

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DEAR ABBY: I have a friend I’ll call “Whitney” who asks me to pet sit for her on a fairly regular basis. She’ll usually ask me a week or less before she is going to be leaving. I love animals (I have several of my own), so I continue to do this for her. But one issue is making it increasingly difficult. Abby, her house is FILTHY.

I have animals, so I know a little dog hair or cat litter is part of the deal. That’s not the issue; it’s dirt from the humans. There is food residue on counters, stovetops and cabinet doors, clothing and paperwork all over the floors, and a bathroom that clearly hasn’t been cleaned in years. I refuse to use the bathroom in her house, and I even sanitize my hands after I leave.

This makes the pet sitting harder, because I know I should spend more time with her cats than just scooping litter and filling dishes, but I simply cannot bring myself to spend any real time in her house. How do I broach this subject with her, or should I? I dread these requests, but I don’t want to leave an animal without basic care when she’s away. — RELUCTANT PET SITTER

DEAR SITTER: The time has come to tell Whitney you no longer want to pet sit for her, and when she asks you why, tell her the truth and encourage her to get some cleaning help.

DEAR ABBY: My son’s wife (I’ll call her “Carla”) calls me when they are fighting. The last time, my son went to jail for domestic violence. The cop didn’t even talk to me.

Now my son won’t talk to me, and I’m no longer allowed to talk to my grandchildren. He says as far as he’s concerned, my husband and I are dead. We did nothing but help Carla. It was my son’s third domestic violence offense. I always had a great relationship with my grandchildren, but I haven’t seen them in more than five months. I miss them very much. Should I stand up to my son, tell him to grow up and let me see my grandchildren, or honor his request and stay out of his life? — PUNISHED IN MINNESOTA

DEAR PUNISHED: You can’t force your son to do anything. Accusing him of being childish will only cause more animosity. Talk to Carla and point out that your son needs psychological help. Carla should take the children and go to a shelter, because without professional help and a desire to change, your son’s attacks will escalate and he could seriously injure or kill her one of these days. Carla should contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline for guidance. The toll-free number is 800-799-7233.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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