Miss Manners: He says it’s appropriate cocktailing behavior. I disagree.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I often enjoy margaritas on the rocks with salt on the glass rim. He has a habit of first licking the salt on the rim and then taking a swig.

I think this habit is rude, but he thinks it is no problem. I simply take a drink normally, enjoying the salt while drinking (not licking!). Is his habit socially acceptable, as he claims, in the context of margarita drinking?

GENTLE READER: Licking is the prerogative of those not old enough for margaritas — and, even then, it is limited to popsicles, lollipops and other inherently silly foods.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I just started walking a friend’s three dogs in the evenings while he’s at work. They are very sweet animals, but one of them has difficulties interacting with other dogs. Even if she seems excited, she can snap and get protective when another dog gets really close.

I’m strong and calm enough to hold her in place safely, and we specifically try to walk at times and on side streets that won’t have many other people out with their animals. The problem is a single path through a local park.

Usually when we go, it’s more or less abandoned. It isn’t a dog park, or even fenced in. It’s not very wide, and it’s the only way back to the house that doesn’t involve a main road with sometimes-dangerous traffic. And, especially in bad weather, it’s almost impossible to move off the path onto the grass, which is what I’ve done with other anxious or excitable dogs in the past.

Despite all this, there have been a couple of occasions when someone has had their dog off-leash and tried to engineer a meet-and-greet. By “engineer,” I mean their dog was already much closer to us than the owners, and they called out cheerfully to let us know that their dog was friendly.

What is the polite way to approach this situation? The last dogs I walked were very small, so when someone else was being unsafe about letting theirs charge off-leash — or giving me incredibly dirty looks when one of “my” dogs started barking because they saw someone else’s approaching down the street — I could just pick the dogs up and carry them around the nearest corner or in the opposite direction.

But one of these dogs is almost 50 pounds, and while I can keep her at my heel in a bad situation, picking her up and walking off just isn’t an option. I’d rather just avoid these situations altogether, but when someone is being so friendly and oblivious while doing something so dangerous, I feel like a deer in the headlights.

GENTLE READER: The approaching owners communicated that their dogs are friendly. You need to communicate that yours (really, your friend’s), to your regret, are not.

Take a firm grip on the leash, lean back as if the dog is about to pull you forward, and tilt your head to one side with an apologetic shrug. This may work, but it may not: In Miss Manners’ experience, dogs are often better at reading body language than their masters. If that is the case, call out, “I’m so sorry, but I’m the dog walker and this one is not good around other dogs.”

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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Author: Judith Martin

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