Just Behave

Just Behave: Pet Peeve

Our etiquette expert answers your questions.

BY August 2, 2017


My brother has a dog and now refuses to attend any family gatherings unless the dog can be invited, too. He won’t even consider placing the dog in a doggie daycare or asking neighbors or friends to watch the pet, so all out-of-town vacations must be planned around where he can stay with his dog. I feel bad for my aging parents that my sibling is now choosing to stay with his pet instead of visiting them. Am I wrong to be mad?  — Patty, Naples

Dear Patty,

Pets have a way of becoming family members, so congratulations on your new niece/nephew. I wouldn’t put your brother in the doghouse yet for his over-attachment to his dog. But, I’d point out that staying with his dog instead of visiting his parents is hurting their feelings. We understand the dog is family to him, but couldn’t there be some small compromise out of respect and love for his parents? We want all family members here happy and smiling and wagging their tails, too.

Read more of Suzanne Willis’s Just Behave columns here.

I was out to dinner with friends, and before I could even taste my food, one friend reached over and stabbed her fork into one of my raviolis and took it for herself. I was furious! I wanted to yell and leave the table. Was I wrong to be angry? What could I have done to avoid this? — Peter, Fort Myers

Dear Peter,

Who knew friends could turn into food terrorists? When you ordered your ravioli, you didn’t know you needed a side of security against stabbing forks. You had every right to be angry and should tell your friend, no joking around, that you didn’t appreciate the incursion and that you’re happy to share your food—after you’ve offered it to her. And when you do that, ask for a small plate and pass the food to her. Hope your friend liked the ravioli. She sounds like someone who, if not, would throw it back onto your plate.


I know my friend didn’t mean any harm, but she posted on social media that a classmate of ours had passed away before the family had a chance to share this in the way they wanted. (It was a suicide.) Was that wrong of my friend? Should I say something to her? — Cathy, Naples

Dear Cathy,

I’m sorry to hear about the passing of a friend. It shouldn’t have been shared on social media until the family posted something, regardless of how he or she passed. At that point, your friend could have hit the “share” button and passed along his or her own news and information about services, etc. When someone passes away, it’s important to respect the family and their willingness and ability to share the news. And if they aren’t on social media, then wait until something is posted in the newspaper and then pass a link along.

In my opinion, the same goes for wedding photos. Allow the bride and groom to be the first to announce their happy news and post a photo.  


Suzanne Willis is a hospitality consultant and the founder/CEO (Chief Etiquette Officer) of Mimi’s Manners, specializing in dining etiquette for children, teens and adults.

Related Images: