updates: the manager’s peeing dog, dressing like your boss, and more

Here are four updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

1. My boss brings her dog to work and he pees by my desk

I promised to update after quarter end, which comes up in July, but I just wanted to shoot over a quick update before then, because there has been at least some progress. To warn you: it’s kind of a mixed bag.

Christie has now begun to put Ricky in her office with the door closed and work in an empty space on the other end of the office so that he won’t distract her. This is, obviously, worse than the previous situation. I have on two occasions (so far) snuck him out for a walk while she’s gone and put him back in her office before she notices. I also bought him a few relatively cheap toys (a treat puzzle and a squeaky bone), which I keep in my desk and pull out when she’s otherwise occupied. Quarter end will be overtime hours, and I’m not sure it’ll be a sustainable system then, but I just wanted to let you know that Ricky is at least getting walks now.

Your commenters have also been very helpful in making me reflect on Christy as a person rather than her management style, and though it’s not a fun feeling, I have come to accept that it’s okay to not like her because of this. I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt as much as possible, but this isn’t the mark of a good person. So thank you AAM community! :)

To the person who advised stealing the dog: my friends and I have been debating the difference between “stealing” and “rescuing” and we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not a feasible solution at this time. But it’s a good dream.

2. My boss and I keep accidentally wearing the same thing (#3 at the link)

I wrote to you earlier about being worried about dressing too much like my boss, and I’m so glad I did! Everyone was so supportive in the comments, and it really eased my mind. It’s my first office job in years (I was in healthcare before, so everyone wore scrubs) and I wanted to be sure I wasn’t being weird. But my manager thought it was hilarious that I wrote to you (I told her about it), and now we laugh about our “twinning” outfits. We’re both wearing pretty pink shirts and jeans today and my boss made a joke about our “spring time look connection.”

Thank you for all the support!

3. My coworker reacts badly when I won’t come in on my days off (#4 at the link)

I finally took the advice of everyone and laid down the law with the problematic coworker. As a result, she no longer asks me personally to fill in for her but simply has resorted to exaggerating injuries and claiming that she needs physical therapy so that she can take weeks off with no notice and continue doing whatever she’s doing during work hours.

On the other hand, I learned through this experience as well as the comments on my original ask that these things are way beyond my control and that I was not in any way shape or form obligated to fill in for her when she demands just to make her happy. Her supervisor was away on personal leave but when he returns, I will be reporting to him regarding her transgressions.

4. Is sex a bad example in a work presentation? (#2 at the link)

Thank you for answering my question. Your last point about possibly encouraging inappropriate comments from others was something I hadn’t thought of at all but I do take very seriously. So I will use other examples where I can and do without where I can’t (and thanks to commentators for suggestions). For clarification we’re not in a related field, though we work in an area where we do have to consider the occasional messiness of real lives so I’d expect colleagues to be reasonably grown up about things.

As it happens my second best examples on a number of points are around drug-taking, but this does seem to be a case where drugs are better than sex.

{ 148 comments… read them below }

  1. Justme, The OG*

    #4, I’m not sure that drugs are an acceptable example either. But definitely better than your first inclination.

    1. Statistical OP*

      It’s hard to discuss the difficulties of getting reliable results about sensitive subjects/from difficult-to-engage groups without discussing sensitive subjects and the reasons why some groups are difficult to engage… I think a lot of people assumed this was all about the maths so any example would do, but the maths is only a tiny bit of it.

      1. Thaleia*

        What about exercise or diet? Those are also sensitive subjects, but maybe better than drugs or sex.

        1. Airy*

          And studies of diet are notoriously complicated by subjects who, even while not trying to hide anything, underestimate what they ate (because most of us don’t weigh our portions and indeed for most people that would be a disorder symptom) or simply forget bits of it (like the peanuts you were eating right before your kid casually told you they needed a costume to dress up as their favourite character for Book Day at school, TOMORROW).

      2. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Ah, I understand your task better now.

        I certainly don’t see anything wrong with using the unreliability of self-reporting amongst those who use substances as the example, in that case.

        1. Artemesia*

          I don’t see anything wrong with using sex either — it is a transparently obvious example of the perils of self report and there are some techniques that can be used with highly personal questions that increase the chance of accuracy. Obviously some attention is paid to the audience you speak to but most audiences of adults are going to find sex and drug examples for this particular point clear and understandable.

      3. epi*

        The divide between people who regularly talk about this stuff at work can be huge. I am in public health and we will discuss absolutely anything. Examples discussing sexual health or drugs would be totally acceptable because they are just health topics. If they weren’t directly relevant to the work, I would just assume the speaker’s background was in that topic and it was the best example that came to mind. In other fields, apparently, acknowledging the existence of sex or drugs even if it is not personal will make people squeamish.

        You are totally correct that people don’t lie– especially on surveys where they wouldn’t have been identified anyway– about topics that are completely anodyne.

        A very common example of data missing not at random would be income; lots of people refuse to share it but acknowledging that in a talk is not particularly uncomfortable. But, it’s a better illustration of some concepts than others. It’s unlikely to highlight inconsistencies in data the way your original example would have. Height and weight might work, but the comparison wouldn’t be internal, and anyway those self-reports are generally still good enough to use. I’d probably end up using sex and drugs myself. :)

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        There’s the fact that election winners do much better in later surveys about who voters chose than in the actual election.

        And to paraphrase Dave Barry: Deep down, we all believe we are above-average drivers.

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          And to paraphrase Gartison Keillor, we all think (or at least like to think) that our kids are from Lake Wobegon, where “all the children are above average”!

      5. Sarah N*

        If this is about list experiments, I actually think sex is a fine example! There are plenty of real-life experiments you can draw on so that it’s not just you randomly bringing up THE SEXY TIMES but rather just showing real-life examples.

    2. Observer*

      I actually think that drugs are a good example because it has a nice side effect. We’ve got a drug epidemic going on here in the US. Anything that can help people understand some of the complexities of developing sound strategies is good. And it’s quite clear that at least one of the problems is that we actually don’t have as much solid data as we’d like.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Excellent point! There are so many armchair public health experts and armchair policymakers that this provides a good counterpoint.

    3. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      What about food?
      Everyone thinks they eat healthy food. “I had a salad for lunch.”
      Nobody thinks they eat fast food that much. “Oh, once a month, tops.”
      I don’t eat snacks.
      I exercise regularly.
      Until you actually monitor yourself and realize that a grilled chicken on a 13″ plate is still a full day’s calories. In Pittsburgh, it comes with fries.

      1. Nobby Nobbs*

        A full day’s calories for an office worker trying to lose weight, maybe. Please remember that everybody has different nutritional needs when you’re judging their eating habits.

    4. Agnodike*

      Might depend on the drug. Smoking is a good one to use in these cases, since people chronically under-report how many cigarettes they consume. Same with number of weekly alcoholic drinks, which might be a socially acceptable topic in a broader range of contexts.

    5. ChimericalOne*

      Most people don’t blush to talk about drugs. Plenty of people get embarrassed talking about sex. The difference is that the latter is a “taboo” topic in public but everyone does it in private (so they might end up thinking of personal examples & be uncomfortable about it) vs. the first is not socially acceptable (largely) but not an embarrassing thing to most people (either they don’t do drugs & thus, have nothing to be embarrassed about, or they DO do drugs & they don’t think it’s a big deal, or they don’t care as long as no one knows, etc.)

      Also, talking about sex at work opens the possibility of sexually inappropriate / harassing comments. Talking about drugs is unlikely to lead to a lot of personal sharing or speculation.

  2. Crivens!*

    #1 I wonder if this rises to the level of being able to call animal control and report her?

      1. valentine*

        No, in general, but also because OP1, who has shown concern for the dog’s well-being, would be the number-one suspect.

        OP1: You’re now defying a manipulator who seems like she would fire you just for playing with Ricky, especially since she never added dog-sitting to your duties. Even if this is a three-person company, is consulting Christie’s boss a greater risk? If Ricky’s comfort is really worth your job, why not report Christie and do anything else you can within the law, then quit or prepare to be fired? As long as Christie has Ricky, she’ll likely continue the abuse, so your choice here seems limited to whether you remain employed there.

        1. Laika*

          “Abuse” is a legal term. What OP1 described is not abuse. (People who abuse dogs don’t generally let the dogs accompany them to the office.) Unless OP1 is literally following her boss home, there’s no basis to say the dog is lacking for walks after work. That is, ultimately, when most dogs get their walks, unless they’re lucky enough to have owners that work in a pet-friendly office.

          Yes, in a 100% ideal world, the dog would get a second walk during the day. But I’m far more concerned about dogs that are chained all day, or forced to fight other dogs, or are starved, etc. This dog has companionship during the day, unlike many dogs whose owners leave them at home when they go to work. The dog seems to have no problem relieving itself, and while it may be gross to do it in an office, it’s now the owner’s own office, not OP’s.

          1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

            It’s neglect. This animals needs to relive himself and she punishes him for wetting when he can no longer hold his bladder. Yeah, it’s neglect of an animal’s basic needs. It’s now illegal in many areas to chain dogs for more than an hour, etc.

          2. Delphine*

            It’s possible to be concerned about the various degrees of abuse and neglect that animals can suffer, not just the most extreme forms of suffering.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          As usual, you’re OVER THE TOP.

          It’s not abuse.

          She wouldn’t be doing it if she was worried about her job security. Just chill out with the “your’e gonna get fired, omggggg omggggg o0mggg.”

      2. Laika*

        I’m going to make an unpopular, although I think obvious, observation.

        OP1 originally wrote to AAM because her manager, Christie, had a dog named Ricky and had, in practice, assigned OP1 dog care duties. Ricky spent most of his time in OP1’s office and peed there. OP1 was justifiably upset.

        If I understand the update correctly, that’s no longer the case. Christie is now keeping her own dog in her own office. In short: OP1’s problem is solved. She’s no longer on dogsitting duties. Consequently, she needs to take a step back and extricate herself from this situation. The proverb “not my circus, not my monkeys” comes to mind.

        OP should not be voluntarily walking the dog, and she should *certainly* not be doing to surreptitiously. OP wants to be seen as the best accountant in her company, not to go-to person for dog care. Tending to this dog will only validate Christie’s original decision to foist dog-care duties on other employees and, ultimately, risks resurrecting the original problem.

        The dog is not being abused. It’s presumably getting fed, groomed, and sheltered and is receiving attention when Christie is at home. It would be ideal if the dog got an extra walk during the day, but let’s face it: some good percentage of dogs owed by people who work during the day sit at home, too, and get their walks in the evening. This is not a remotely situation for animal control. If the dog needs to pee, it will do so in Christie’s office, and she’ll deal with the problem accordingly. There is no need for OP1 to play the hero here.

        1. Anon and on and on*

          I second this because the problem still exists. Christie doesn’t care for her dog when she brings it to work. The results still occur, someone cares for the dog. This is the real problem.

        2. winifred*

          Making a dog hold in urine and feces all day is abusive, though may not be considered misdemeanor or felony animal abuse.

          1. Laika*

            The dog was peeing. That is what prompted the letter. So it’s not holding in waste all day long. I’ll be the first to say it’s gross and unsanitary that the dog is relieving itself inside, but it’s now happening in Christie’s office, and it’s Christie’s problem, not OP1’s.

        3. JuliaPancakes*

          Laika, I think you have some great points. My heart just melts for how kind OP1 clearly is, and how much she cares for animals, and I’m sure all the animal lovers chiming in on her original post encouraging her to help Ricky really make her want to help this dog even more … but like OP1 knows, there’s a bigger picture to think of.

          OP1, how do you think Ricky’s owner would feel if she caught you sneaking him out, or if she caught Ricky playing with toys you secretly gave him? She might be pretty offended, or she might just really consider it your job now to walk Ricky and will then blame you if he pees in her office.

          Saying this, I honestly don’t know if I could ignore a dog left alone in a room in my workplace either, so I can’t even say honestly that I could take my own advice here. But like you said, Ricky seems well-cared for in all the most vital ways, albeit probably bored and maybe sad, and as long as this office isn’t getting too hot, her office is not an inappropriate place for Ricky. And just maybe if he pees in her office, she’ll start taking this problem seriously.

        4. WellRed*

          Agreed. I am.not someone who likes to “what if” every situation, but what if something happened during one of these clandestine walks? Try explaining that to your boss.

        5. Exexpat*

          I painfully agree. Christie is a terrible owner and doesn’t deserve to have this dog, but some of these suggestions seem to be prioritizing the dog over the OP’s well-being.

          1. smoke tree*

            Obviously the LW is a kind person and this whole situation puts her in a bind. I am angry on her behalf that she’s been forced to make these difficult decisions just because she is apparently the most reasonable person in the vicinity. But I think this is comparable to other situations where your boss expects something of you that conflicts with your personal ethics. Personally, I wouldn’t be able to work in an office where I knew a dog was being neglected and potentially shut away for hours without anyone checking on him. I would try to do what I could for him, but I would also be looking for a new job. If Christie thinks this behaviour is acceptable, and is this resistant to reasonable criticism, I wouldn’t want to work for her.

            1. Exexpat*

              Yeah, a new job is the best solution for LW. She just… can’t do something like stealing the dog, or taking the dog out for a walk and then telling her boss the dog slipped the leash and ran into traffic – can you imagine Christie being reasonable about that?

    1. DaffyDuck*

      No, it doesn’t rise to the level where animal control would be able to do anything (unless her office is ankle deep in poop and pee, but it doesn’t seem that way. You could report her to the boss; from the previous letter it sounded like that isn’t feasible tho.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It may be worth calling and asking them about if only to feel like you did something but I get the feeling they won’t be able to do anything. They are known to leave animals out to die before having the ability or manpower to become involved.

      They’re not like CPS, they don’t launch a full scale investigation when they’re reported to.

      1. AMT*

        Right, and the bar is generally higher for neglect of an animal than of a child. That said, it’s possible that animal control might uncover conditions in her home that rise to the level of neglect, so if I were OP, I’d seriously consider reporting it.

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          I’d consider it, too. The worst thing can happen is that animal control doesn’t do anything. Of course, the op COULD get in a lot of trouble with Christie, at leadt in theory, IF she found out, but anonymous phone calls are pretty easy to make.

    3. MuseumChick*

      I would call and see. Just so I could tell myself I had done everything possible for this poor dog!

      1. kittymommy*

        Our animal control will sometimes call the reported party and just let them know that there has been a report of alleged abuse/mistreatment and offer over the phone counseling to the owner. This is especially true when the report is on something that may not be legally abuse/neglect but is generally considered harmful to the animal. Also, the reporting party may want to do it anonymously.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It certainly rises to the level of being able to call Grandboss the Doglover when the dog’s in there alone….

    5. JSPA*

      1. No.
      2. OP could say that she’s trying to start an exercise at lunch, and ask if she can volunteer to take the dog along, to encourage herself to do so. But if the answer is “no,” then it’s “no.”
      3. Work is the worst place to commit what’s likely a felony (if it’s a purebred?) or at least a misdemeanor. No matter how well – intentioned.

  3. Wing Leader*

    #1, I agree that Christie just doesn’t seem like a good person. Good people just don’t treat their pets that way. I’m sorry that so much responsibility falls to you, OP, but I’m glad that Ricky is getting taken care of.

    If it were me, I’d still keep an eye on the way Christie treats him and, if necessary, anonymously notify an animal rescue organization. It doesn’t seem like what she’s doing to him is abusive, per se, but she’s teetering on the line and I wouldn’t be surprised if she eventually crossed it.

    1. Pomona Sprout*

      Seconding all of this, especially the second paragraph. “Rescuing” the dog by simply spiriting him away sounds good, but it wouldn’t stop her from getting another dog and proceeding to mistreat that one. A rescue organization that has expetience dealing with abusive and neglectful pet owners could be a valuable resource in figuring out how to deal with a situation like this in the most effective way possible.

    2. Jennifer Thneed*

      From the first letter: Christie is not letting her dog outside to urinate, and then punishing him when (after 10+ hours) he urinates indoors. We wouldn’t tolerate that in prisons, so I think it counts as abusive.

  4. Update #3 Original OP*

    Addendum: She was on the phone with a few of our clients after she returned from “physical therapy”and regaled them with stories of her 1.5 week-long cruise vacation. She also told them all this in a language other than English which I happen to understand as well but no one else around the office does. But that’s none of my business since I’ve made it very clear that I won’t be doing her job with management. She also informed them that she’s planning on leaving in the next 3 months and is actively job hunting so I guess that explains her recent behavior of NGAF.

    1. Busy*

      Part of me is like what a garbage human and another part is me is impressed with how she gets away with this!

    2. Update #3 Original OP*

      I meant to type that she informed our clients that she’s planning to leave in the next 3 months, not management as it might seem from the way I wrote the comment. Apologies for my bad writing.

      1. Trek*

        In that case I would share what you heard regarding the cruise while she was out on leave for physical therapy with upper management. She may have taken time off under false pretenses and it may be the reason they are looking for to terminate her employment.

        1. Artemesia*

          I’d be letting the boss know. She publicly declared this information; sad to be her that her assumption no one understood here is not accurate.

          1. AdAgencyChick*

            Yup. If I were her manager, I’d sure as hell want to know that she SPOKE TO THE CLIENTS about her intention to leave the company!

      2. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Oh, wow, I definitely thought you meant management.

        It really cracks me up when people assume that others can’t understand the language they’re speaking in. On her last day, you should say something to her in that language and watch the penny drop.

          1. Kathenus*

            That would be fantastic! I’d pay money to be a fly on the wall for that conversation to see her expression.

      3. AKchic*

        Definitely let the boss know what you’ve heard. The chronic absenteeism can mean that the boss(es) can require a doctor’s note excusing her from all that work (seriously, who is in physical therapy for 40+ hours a week other than the therapist?) and without that doctor’s note, she may be hard-pressed to be “excused” from her duties.
        From there… well, a good manager/HR can handle things. She may be leaving sooner than she’d planned.

    3. Liz*

      Hmm. if not for the second language i would think you worked where I do! We have someone who every year, without fail, has some kind of health issue. surgery, illness, and stays out for the full time of disability allowed. Yet, during that time, she goes on vacations, and does other things that well, if she can do that, she can come in and work. Everyone is aware of it, including her boss but as she has all her medical documentation in order, nothing can be done, And she knows this too! And has said “they can’t do anything”

      no, maybe not, but I can tell you if it ever comes down to having to reduce staff, i’m pretty sure she’d be top of the list.

  5. DaffyDuck*

    Peeing puppy – Thank you for being a kind person and taking the dog out (also the toys).
    Even tho the way she treats this dog is horrendous I urge you *not* to steal it. Animals are considered property in the USA and doing so is definitely against the law. You would very likely have charges filed against you and probably would lose your job.

    1. anon to avoid the fuzz*

      I did steal a dog once, but it was because a neighbor was physically abusing it (it got hit by a car and had a leg broken in multiple spots, and they refused to get it treatment). I was already feeding it clandestinely, so when I saw the leg I went to the neighbor’s house and asked about it and they said it had happened several days before, while I was gone on a business trip.

      The next day, I sneaked it into my house when it came over for food, then went back and stole the 4-week old litter of puppies she had, and I told the neighbor that it had died and the puppies had scattered. Then I took it to a vet, had the leg fixed (there was some question on whether they’d have to amputate, but it pulled through with a severe limp) — and also had it treated for heartworms and stomach worms. I dropped the puppies off at the SPCA and had a friend of a friend take the dog to her farm.

      I regret nothing. I couldn’t live with myself to leave her in pain like that.

      1. Ricky’s BFF*

        I fully support you in your dog-stealing endeavors. That definitely qualifies as “rescuing” to me!

      2. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Thank you for taking care of that poor doggie and her puppies. You’re an angel.

      3. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        You’re getting into heaven for sure. Thank you for taking care of the dog and her puppies.

      4. Wing Leader*

        One of my college professors used to–no joke– sneak in and steal people’s dogs (ones that she knew were being abused or just not properly cared for). She usually kept the dog herself, though she found other homes for some of them.

      5. The Other Dawn*

        I admit to “stealing” a cat, but it was so she could be spayed.

        My neighbors had an unspayed female cat and they’d leave her outside pretty much all the time and it was clear she wasn’t being fed properly. I always left some food out for her because she’d come to my door, crying like crazy. She’d then scarf a full can + of food. This poor girl had litter after litter of kittens, and she was as small as a six-month old kitten herself (I actually think she had her first litter around nine months old.) I finally grabbed her and had her spayed and vaccinated after her third litter. When I brought her home I kept her inside until she healed, then let her out since she wasn’t my cat; I just didn’t feel right keeping her, although I wanted to. She kept coming back for food every so often so I fed her, but she tended to split her time between our house and the neighbor’s house. The neighbors didn’t even seem to notice she was gone for several days! Or if they did, they probably assumed she’d been hit by a car or took off.

        1. Mellow*

          Some situations lend themselves to other people stepping in.

          You did the right thing. It was very kind of you to pro-actively help an innocent creature.

      6. DaffyDuck*

        Thank you for taking care of the dog. This is a *perfect* example of a time that animal control (if you lived in town that had one) would be an *excellent* call. It is a clear-cut case of abuse, the animal would be removed for vet care and rehomed, the owners fined and the courts could prevent them from owning another animal.
        Unfortunately, many of these abusive owners just don’t give a fly when the animal “disappears” and quickly replace it with another. I really believe that hitting them where it hurts (money, possibly jail time) is much more effective in the long run.

      7. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

        I would call that a rescue operation as well. Theft would have been without any problems with the dog – but major injuries and a litter of puppies she was struggling to care for completely changed the situation in my mind. If I remember what I had been told as well, the injuries may have constituted a legal case for the authorities to seize the dog from her.

  6. 42*

    OP #1, I so appreciate you doing this for the pup. But why do you have to *sneak* the dog out for walks? This just gives her the illusion that the dog can hold it all day without walks and reinforces her horrible behavior.

    1. Ricky’s BFF*

      Because I offered to take Ricky out once or twice when I was leaving the office anyway (coffee, sandwich, etc) and she said it wasn’t necessary, so if I didn’t he wouldn’t be walked. I promise I didn’t go directly from zero to a hundred :)

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Ah of course she said it wasn’t necessary. Rolling my eyes so hard right now, what a nonsensical woman who absolutely sucks at caring for another vulnerable life.

        Thankfully she just said it wasn’t necessary and not just “no don’t do that. “Isn’t necessary” equals “oh don’t feel obligated to do that”, to me. Thanks for absolving me of the responsibility, that’s cool, now I’m going to do it because I want to and I’m not a jerk who neglects dogs.

      2. sofar*

        I am just so curious about this woman’s lack of knowledge of a dog’s needs! Is this her first dog ever?

        I volunteer at an animal shelter, and I’ve seen some human ignorance in my time, but even some of the idiots we get in there surrendering their animals seem to have a basic understanding that dogs need to use the bathroom several times a day (and that’s usually why they’re surrendering them — because they’re “too busy”)

        We did have to explain to some of my husband’s family members (an older couple who got their first dog in their 60s) that you can’t leave a dog alone for a weekend while you’re out of town, that you can’t feed dogs milk (the water bowl is for WATER), that feeding a dog curry on the regular will have disastrous results, and that dogs need to go outside or be walked a few times per day. But they were thankful for that advice (and felt awful about what they were doing) and hired a dog walker/switched to dogfood and water.

        Like, does your boss believe a dog can hold it for 12+ hours/has a magical bladder? Does she seem to otherwise love the pet and show it affection and is just really ignorant about its needs? I am SO curious.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          There is a gross amount of people who still believe that dogs can stay locked up in doors all day long. I hear so many comments about “Oh when we were kids, the dog was locked up 7hrs a day and it was fiiiiiiiiiine.”

          These are the same people who chain their dogs up outside or keep them in kennels so that they don’t soil their carpets because sure, that’s the right thing to do when you’re away from home, grossly limit their range of motion.

          We’re in that nasty generation gap/era where the old idea of the family dog just being the original Roomba vacuum isn’t dead yet.

          1. sofar*

            Yes, I think you’re right, sadly. I just remembered how a friend of mine recently asked me to dog sit for her, and I said, “No sorry, I have class after work, so I can’t get home at all from about 8:30 a.m. to after 8 p.m.,” and she was like, “Oh, it’s fiiiiiine, just keep her in her crate!”

            Like … what?

            I refused.

          2. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

            I grew up in a family where all of our pets were cherished and treated like members of the family (NEVER chained, kenneled, crated, or left outside), and while I had a SAHM so our animals were seldom alone, there were still plenty of times that they had to be left all day without being let out. They had free run of the house, and still, accidents were rare, because my parents made sure that our dogs were completely housebroken. Is this not a thing that people do anymore because crating is so much “easier”?

            I almost always had to leave my dogs indoors all day while I was at work, because I was often single (or had a partner that worked), seldom had roommates, and was too poor/broke for walkers or sitters.

      3. SheLooksFamiliar*

        ‘Actually, boss, I’d enjoy taking Ricky for a walk. He’s good company, and I bet he’d like to water a tree or two so he won’t pee in your office.’

        I doubt it would change her mind, OP, but I wonder if your boss would let you take Ricky out for walks if…nah, probably not. You’re awesome for caring about him, thank you!

        1. hayling*

          I agree, you could frame it as “I need some fresh air, I’m going to take Ricky with me for a walk.”

  7. Rebecca*

    #1 – on the times you “sneak” the dog out for a walk, could the leash become undone and the dog may run away? At least that’s the cover story you can use if you can find a responsible person in another town to rescue this poor dog. Or maybe the door becomes ajar where the dog is imprisoned in your office, and the poor thing just wandered away.

    This story still makes me so angry. There should be a way to report people like this so either they have to straighten up and fly right, or surrender their animals. Simple as that.

    1. Lady Phoenix*

      Oh god nooooo. The dog could run into traffic or something else awful! :(

      That is my worse fear as a dog owner

      1. Kathleen_A*

        I don’t think Rebecca wanted the dog to actually run away – I think she was suggesting a cover story for the OP to allow her to account for the fact that – oh, what a mystery! /sarcasm – that the dog is just gone!

      2. Dragoning*

        No, no, Rebecca isn’t suggesting doing that–is suggesting using that as the excuse.

  8. Lyra Silvertongue*

    Glad you chose not to use sex, #4! Since it wasn’t mentioned on the original thread, I’d also like to say, as a queer woman, that I would be concerned that your example about men/women having sex would bring up a whole load of heteronormativity that I personally don’t want to deal with in the workplace.

      1. Statistical OP*

        I’m not sure that’s fair. The question specifies man/woman because it’s only the man/woman figures that appear to be a paradox. And by specifying man with woman and woman with man, the question is explicit that other possibilities exist.

        1. Lyra Silvertongue*

          I’m not familiar with statistics and I don’t know what the phrasing of your example is, so I can’t speak on that. But as you acknowledged, this is a topic that could invite unwelcome comments. In my experience of being queer in public spaces, these kind of topics lead very quickly to heteronormative comments, one way or another – whether it’s through erasure, micro-aggressions, unfunny ‘jokes,’ etc.

          1. Statistical OP*

            Ah – it was in the original post. It’s about men reporting more sex with woman than woman report with men.

            (I did think about specifying one man and one woman, but that seems even less appropriate. And the reasons are pretty well known and threesomes etc are not a particularly large factor.)

            1. Mia_Mia*

              Are you looking for examples to demonstrate problems that come up with self-reported data? If so, I work in public health and we’ve used your example before. Other examples that have come up, some of which have already been mentioned: income, dietary habits, amount of exercise, voter turnout, volunteering. Drinking and smoking are also good examples, but could be considered more sensitive.

              1. blackcat*

                Reported vs actual church attendance is another.

                In a dream future, I’d find a way to actually study how many hours students say they study vs actually study (vs text/play with their phone with their work in front of them). There are two issues: 1) I think some students willfully do not report things accurately and 2) some genuinely believe they study either more or less than they actually do.

        2. Lepidoptera*

          I think the problem is that you seem to require an incredibly specific set of circumstances for this work problem, but also are unable to get too specific in providing requirements. This really isn’t an ideal situation for crowd-sourced advice.

          1. Venus*

            To be fair to the OP, someone who writes a letter to AAM isn’t necessarily looking for crowd-sourced advice. They are looking for Alison’s.

        3. ket*

          Statistical OP, I understand the kind of example you’re trying to give, and you’re right — there is an explicit difference between the answers of men and women in this question, even if they’re bi. It’s a difference in societal norms that is fairly independent of peoples’ sexual preference or actual sexual behavior.

          The point of the example is that it’s clear that the answers from ‘both sides’ can’t both be true (that people lie, consciously or unconsciously, in survey answers). The point of the example isn’t actually to investigate people’s sexual behavior.

          Maybe you could find a money example — one of those behavioral economics questions where people all talk about how much they donated to a charity and then look at how much the charity actually got and you can see they’re clearly not equal — but I don’t personally know of a good consistent finding documented in the literature for this kind of result.

          1. ket*

            Food is also a good area for those types of examples. Food frequency questionnaires… so many problems…

            But basically, as you mention above, it’s hard to talk about these examples *by definition* because if they were not sensitive topics (food intake, sexual activity, drug use, money) no one would be lying in their answers! I think you should keep in mind that your audience at work is a professional audience used to thinking about these things in a more nuanced way than the general internet-reading public.

            1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

              Educational media vs. trashy? I’m sure a lot more people claim to read non-fiction than do. Or actual time watching daytime soaps vs reported? People who claim to hate Twilight vs number of books sold?

        4. JJ Bittenbinder*

          Yes, I understood your original letter to say (paraphrasing):
          When asked rates of having sex, men report that they are having sex with women more frequently than women report that they are having sex with men. Rates of women reporting sex with women, and men reporting sex with men don’t indicate a discrepancy.

          ~Not~ that you asked the question and the only options are “I am a man who has sex with women” or “I am a woman who has sex with men.”

          1. Lyra Silvertongue*

            To be fair, that is not how I understand it either – I am saying that introducing this topic invites heteronormativity, in my experience, not that it’s inherently heteronormative. I don’t think that my complaint is out of line with Allison’s original advice – that “if you have anyone creepy there, they’ll be all too happy to use it as a lead-in for inappropriate remarks to others, either in the moment or later.”

            1. Myrin*

              I feel really stupid right now because I’m not understanding your point – don’t us queer folks encounter heteronormativity everywhere anyway? I honestly don’t think the erasure and unfunny jokes are more likely to occur when talking about the statistical intricacies of self-reports on sexual behaviour compared to a bunch of straight people just talking about their straight marriages next to the water cooler.
              And I don’t really understand how that relates to Alison’s original advice – the “anyone creepy” comment refers to someone in the audience seeing sex as a topic of discussion and then using that to go “Hurr durr Ben are you also someone who likes to talk about how much sex he has?” *leery grin*
              What am I missing here?

  9. pleaset*

    On #2, I’m Remembering the time both the person who works for me and I came in wearing seersucker suits. She’s a southern woman (and her suit had a skirt bottom), I’m a (kinda) New England guy, and it was funny.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      My mother has an amazing story about the time in the 70s she (white woman) and her coworker (black man) both showed up in something like red plaid pants and a navy turtleneck.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        (I got such a “Three Men in a Boat” flash from your comment that I may have to go download it from Project Gutenberg again tonight.)

    2. Tafadhali*

      One of my favorite Brooklyn Nine-Nine throwaway gags was when Amy (Latina woman) and Charles (white man) wore the same pantsuit to work. (Amy: “How does it look better on you?!”)

  10. Grand Mouse*

    #3- I’m pretty angry at the coworker here because I have an actual injury affecting my work but I’ve still come in anyways because I felt like I had no choice and I don’t want to leave my employer hanging. So for someone to fake it and get time off has me seething.

    1. valentine*

      Taking care of yourself doesn’t leave your employer hanging. Let them sort staff and take care of yourself. Should your work-exacerbated injury render you unable to do your job, it’s not like they will keep you employed to repay your loyalty.

  11. Lady Phoenix*

    Oh the lord is testing me on this one

    As a dog owner, I would be so fired because I would be giving her my two cents… in the form of of a nice, loud, profanity filled rant about how much a terrible fog owner she is.

    1. valentine*

      Before explaining the dog’s needs, consulting her boss, and reporting the abuse to the relevant authority?

        1. LilyP*

          For me it would go explaining the dog’s needs, Heated Words, offering to walk the dog myself (not saying OP should do that at all, I love dogs and would be thrilled to walk one once or twice a day), more Heated Words if she declined that offer, boss, explicit statement that I will report her if she doesn’t start taking care of her pet, reporting to what authorities I could find + finding a new job. Not saying that’s the best way or what OP should do but I would not be able to keep my cool around her.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is one of those things that would end the same way for me. Only add in the “You can’t fire me because I quit.”

      I don’t have any dogs because I have no time for taking proper care of a dog. I just roll around with any dog that I encounter who allows it.

  12. I coulda been a lawyer*

    … but this does seem to be a case where drugs are better than sex.

    Not certain this is actually true, but that’s the first belly laugh I’ve had for a while so I’ll not only take it, I’ll claim it as my own ROFL.

  13. Washi*

    One Halloween, I came to work wearing a sumo suit under a blue outfit to be Violet Beauregard. We were rearranging the office and one section if it was a huge mess and covered in boxes. I was trying to wade through to get something, and tripped and fell backwards. I tried to stand up, but I was stuck and the sumo suit billowing around me made it impossible for me to get my legs or feet back on to the ground for leverage. My boss came out to see what all the noise was and found me wedged between two boxes and flailing my arms like a beetle on its back.

    Sometimes she still looks at me and starts “remember that time…” and then laughs to herself.

  14. Message for Op #1*

    Op#1 I don’t understand why you don’t talk to your boss and try to educate her about how to care for her dog. She is apparently extremely ignorant and needs education. What is she going to do, fire you for speaking up as you should? Nothing would stop me from telling her about how you walk him and how he seems so much happier and more comfortable after being able to relieve himself. I don’t know how you can stand working for such an negligent, ignorant person.

    1. winifred*

      Or “anonymously” leave some fliers from the ASPCA on her desk about basic caring for a dog’s needs.

    2. Zombeyonce*

      Well, yes, she might fire OP for saying that. Not sure why you don’t seem to think that’s a possibility.

    3. WellRed*

      She probably knows but doesn’t care. Certainly there are more appropriate people in thr boss’s life to educate her, at any rate.

  15. AnimalCop*

    RE: OP Update #1

    Former humane investigator here.

    Animals are considered property, and it is THEFT to abscond with one, even under these solidly-neglectful-bordering-on-abusive circumstances.

    Is it possible that Christie is a first-time dog owner, and does not realize that it is not biologically possible for any dog to hold their bladder for 8-10+ hours? Perhaps suggesting that she do the same will switch on the light bulb.

    Fast facts: The average human bladder expands to hold 16-24 oz of liquid. Dogs pass 10 – 20 ml of urine per pound of their weight daily (0.67628 oz = 20ml). Ricky is small according to OP, so let’s use 20 pounds as his weight. 0.67628 x 20 = 13.5256 oz of urine that Ricky is expected to hold for 10+ hours? Whilst Christie, who has a large bladder capacity, goes to relieve herself every 2-3 hours. Hmmmm . . . .

    Animal control could be called once OP checks their state statutes to find out what Christie might be in violation of. For example, from IL Humane Care for Animal Act (widely regarded as the most comprehensive in the US, and the basis for many other states’ statutes) > Owner’s Duties include “humane care and treatment”; I would make the argument to Animal Control that owner’s duties are being violated by deliberately refusing the dog the opportunity to relieve itself. Should Christie decide to withhold water, that is also a violation of most states’ owner’s duties as well.

    It could maybe possibly be waaaaaaaay stretched to be construed as Aggravated Cruelty “Sec. 3.02. Aggravated cruelty. (a) No person may intentionally commit an act that causes a companion animal to suffer serious injury or death” [injury being almost assured bladder infections and/or physical punishment for the inevitable soiling of the office carpet]). Additionally, there are other medical conditions, including urinary cancer that could be deadly in less than a year, and permanent incontinence after the bladder, which is a “holding reservoir,” becomes permanently distended from holding their urine for so long over the course of many years.

    How it will be addressed once summer humidity sets in, and the remnants of Ricky’s peeing start coming back to life? At the very least, Christie should pay to have the carpet cleaned, as it has become a sanitation (read: health department) issue. Urine has a high level of ammonia, and it can grow stronger, the longer you leave it there. This is risky for people with respiratory health issues such as asthma, bronchitis or pneumonia. Breathing in ammonia irritates your airway and impedes breathing. There is a reason that you see teams in full hazmat suits with full face masks and respirators going into animal hoarding situations. Most fire departments have ammonia meters that can provide a reading, and are called in by Animal Control to assist in cases.

    Let’s get into optics and the public relations nightmare this could turn into. Any client or visitor to the office could observe the situation, smell the urine, and report it to either Animal Control or the Health Dept. Now you have Animal Control, the fire department, and the county health department in front of the office to evaluate the ammonia levels, because Christie did not want to be a responsible dog owner and make suitable care arrangements for her animal. That’s the shot that will be in the local paper, and (on a super slow news day) possibly make the 6pm news.

    Perhaps just a quick comment in passing that might get back to Christie could change her behavior: “I was mortified when Bob Jones came in last week, and made a comment that the office smelled like a kennel.” (NOT maligning professional kennel operators – my experience is that when people cannot be precise, they tend to pick out a common cultural reference.)

    I cannot imagine a level at which Christie operates (unless she is the owner of the firm) that ANY of this is acceptable.

    And this is coming from someone who worked in a real estate office where a top agent’s dog lifted his leg and peed IN someone’s open desk drawer! After that, TopAgent’s dogs were not welcome in the office. Other more well-behaved (or shorter) dogs were still welcome, but Top Agent was held fully accountable.

  16. Laika*

    When it comes to criminal prosecutions, you need to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. And “possibly waaaaaaaay stretching” the language of the statute you cite is pretty much the opposite of reasonable doubt. Furthermore, the statute also requires intent. Keeping a dog in your own office, an office that “kinda sorta if you looked at it on Tuesday” might harbor bacteria that might result in a bladder infection, isn’t intent.

    As for garden-variety cruelty, I’m still pretty skeptical. Withholding water, yes, but I don’t see anything in the letters that says the boss is withholding water from her dog — and in a dog-friendly office there are likely to be communal water bowls provided. Deliberately refusing the dog an opportunity to relieve itself? By everyone’s admission, the dog is peeing. Dogs soiling carpets is something that happens every day in millions of homes across America.

    If the problem is so bad that the office reeks of urine, or requires hazmat suits, I’m reasonably confident Christie’s boss would step in and address the situation. It’s unfair to assume, without more facts, that we’re anywhere near that ballpark.

    I appreciate everyone’s concern for the dog here, and I’m not saying Christie is the paragon of dog ownership, but that is not the same as calling this abuse; the above reasoning is highly conclusory.

  17. Former Librarian*

    OP #1, my advice to you at this point is just…. ignore Ricky.

    Christie now puts Ricky in her office. Great. Let him poop and pee in her office so she has to deal with it. Let him destroy her office because he is bored or anxious with no toys and no human contact so she has to deal with it.

    Ricky is not your problem. Not. Your. Problem. So please don’t voluntarily make him your problem. I know you feel sorry for him. But! Not your problem.

    So stop taking him for walks and stop bringing him toys. Maybe if you stop shielding Christie from the consequences of her poor choices as a dog owner, she will step up and become a better dog owner.

    1. Kitty Pryde*

      This would be great advice if Ricky wasn’t a living creature who is capable of suffering. I get it, but the world is full of animals (and people) in misery because it’s Not. Your. Problem.

      Anyway compromise: Bring him toys, but let him poop and pee indoors.

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