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home : columns : dear harriette May 13, 2021

3/12/2021 7:56:00 AM
Neighbors leave stinky trash in common area

DEAR HARRIETTE: I live in a townhome between two other townhomes. I have the kindest and most mild-mannered neighbors ever. They aren't loud or rude, and they always say hello -- sometimes they will even stop by with gifts!

The only problem with my neighbors is that they consistently leave their trash on their front porch, and the smell is awful. The way that our homes are set up, their porch is pretty much my porch. The only thing that separates our front yards is a flimsy gate. When they leave their trash on the porch, I can see and smell it. It's gotten to the point where I can smell it from inside my home! I don't want to keep having to ask them to remove it; I've left them a few notes before and that has changed nothing. I am not the only neighbor to complain about this. Is getting our landlord involved too harsh? -- Throw It Out

DEAR THROW IT OUT: Contact the landlord immediately. Just because you like your neighbors doesn't mean you have to put up with this unhygienic practice. Speak to the landlord about the situation. Make it clear that the stench is wafting into your home, and it needs to be addressed right away. Stay on top of the landlord to ensure that it is handled.

If your neighbors get mad at you, remind them that you asked them many times to handle it. You like them, but not their trash.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband got my kids a dog without asking me first. While I am angry for a number of reasons, the main reason is that my kids are not responsible enough to care for an animal. It's been two weeks, and I've already had to feed the dog myself because the kids and my husband forget. My options here are to give away the dog or care for it all by myself, and since I'm a working mom with two kids and a husband, I have decided on the former. I think my best option would be to do it while the kids are at school. I warned them that if they can't care for the dog, I'll have no option but to get rid of it. They have not been consistent about walking, feeding or cleaning up after the dog since I told them that. Am I making the right choice by giving away the dog while they are at school? What else could I do? -- Out of Options

DEAR OUT OF OPTIONS: Your frustration is understandable. You should speak to your husband one more time about the dog and make it clear to him that the dog is his responsibility. If he refuses to take over the care of the dog, it does make sense to find a home where the dog can be properly cared for.

People consider their dogs family. You want to treat all family members with respect and proper attention. If your family cannot do that and you do not have the capacity to make it happen by yourself, do the research and find a home that can love this dog.

Most towns have animal shelters. You can also contact the ASPCA, a well-respected organization that rehomes animals every day.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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