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Paint job concern gives neighbor 'paws'


QUESTION: My dog ran out of the house into a neighbor’s garage. Unfortunately, there were kitchen cabinets that were drying after being recently painted. My furry friend left a few small, paw prints. I immediately told the homeowner, offered to compensate for the paint in addition to the painter’s time.

The homeowner responded by yelling four-letter obscenities at me and continued shouting as I left the garage. The next day, I saw the painters and again I asked how I could fix the problem. They said it wasn’t a big deal and was easily corrected. Do I need to do anything more neighborly to clear the air?

CALLIE’S ANSWER: Wow! You said your peace and did everything you could to correct the problem. Go ahead and chalk this up to a rude neighbor and bad manners.

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: All you have to do is read the popular neighborhood mobile application, NextDoor, to find out that people sometimes aren’t very neighborly.

Or follow the Twitter account “Best of Nextdoor,” that mines the NextDoor app for not-so-neighborly gems.

How nice it was that you offered to pay for the repainting. It sounds like your neighbor was a bit stressed for whatever reason. Accidents happen sometimes despite our best intentions. Hopefully tempers have cooled and the cabinets are repainted and you can mend fences with your neighbor with another apology or even some baked goods.

HELEN’S ANSWER: Forgive the neighbor for what sounds like a bad day. You did all of the right things in handling the situation.

Continue to be neighborly (the kind one) and send a brief note of apology. Keep your dog out of the way of the neighbor for awhile.

GUEST’S ANSWER: Yvette Walker, assistant dean, Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma: While yelling obscenities was not the right thing to do, let's forgive your neighbor in the heat of the moment. Perhaps the homeowner was afraid the painting project she budgeted for was beyond her wallet's reach after your pooch's "breaking and entering."

All's well that ends well. Take the high road and have a gift basket of flowers and treats delivered with a note of apology.

Or, if you know the homeowner well, choose whatever this person loves: Girl Scout cookies, a favorite snack, or, send the homeowner to a night of fun painting with friends. Here's to happy neighbors!

Callie Athey is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email

Helen Ford Wallace

Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›