in , ,

Redditor Balks After Sister Demands They Lock Dogs Outside At Christmas Due To Fearful Nephew

Ivar Østby Simonsen/Getty Images

Spending time with our family and friends is wonderful, but like all good things, there are limits.

One of the limits is a refusal to accept boundaries, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor Partyintheusa__ struggled with their sister, who repeatedly insisted they leave their dogs outside, no matter the weather, because of their nephew’s unexplained fear of dogs.

But when it came time for the holiday season, the Original Poster (OP) decided it was time for a change.

They asked the sub:

“AITA for not locking my dogs outside?”

The OP loved their dogs.

“We have two dogs, both small and no higher than your knees.”

“We love Christmas in my family (I prefer Halloween, myself, but still love Christmas) and I got them both Christmas jumpers. We always get them a little bag of treats and toys, too.”

“I only mention this to show how loved they are.”

Their nephew, on the other hand, was terrified. 

“My nephew is nearly 9 and afraid of dogs. We don’t know why but he’s absolutely petrified of them, despite being fine with our late dog, a cavalier.”

“He has even run into the middle of the road on a few occasions to get away from dogs in the street.”

“My sister, his mother, always coddles him and expects us to lock our dogs outside whenever he visits, which is all the time, for hours at a time.”

“It wasn’t an issue until now because of the spring and summer months, and they really love being out in the sun. They like playing out there in the garden with the cats.”

A problem came up when the family was making Christmas plans.

“It is, however, an issue now. Where I live, our autumn and winter months are very cold. I don’t want to lock them out in that kind of weather.”

“I’ve offered to pay for therapy to help him get over the fear and anxiety but she says it’s just the way he is and we should accommodate that.”

“Then the real problem crept up. She wants to come to have Christmas with us.”

“That would mean locking our dogs outside in the freezing, potentially snowing, weather all day.”

“I also can’t put them in a room upstairs. They like to burrow and hide under things so they often get locked in rooms by accident. Because of that, I made it so my doors don’t latch now.”

“I refused my sister’s plan. I told her it was never going to happen, even though I love my nephew. This is my dogs’ home.”

“She said that they can go in the shed with their jumpers on with their gifts and they would be fine, and that my nephew deserves to enjoy his Christmas without the dogs.”

“I said he can, just not here.”

“Also, I did not invite them. There’s no party I’m hosting. Nothing. My sister invited herself because ‘I’ll be alone,’ knowing full well I like it that way.”

The family could not agree.

“My mother isn’t getting involved, my other sister agrees with me, and my brother disagrees.”

“I do understand that my nephew is scared of dogs and that isn’t his fault, but my dogs aren’t at fault either.”

“AITA?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some said the dogs’ health needed to come first.

“NTA. This is yours and your dogs’ home, and your sister has zero right to dictate what goes on. She should host Christmas herself or deal with her son’s issues if she wants to spend it at your place.”

“It doesn’t sound like you’re going to give in, so just hold steady and don’t let her convince you otherwise.” – LiesAreLikeStars

“Your pets’ welfare literally can’t be put on hold for anything. They need to be somewhere safe and warm or they’ll suffer. They don’t stop being warm-blooded because someone’s afraid of them. As far as I’m concerned, the shed is a non-option. It’s cruel.”

“There’s no real argument to be had here. She’s asking you to do something cruel to your animals, and it isn’t going to happen.”

“NTA, buy your dogs some Christmas treats and have a merry time.” – FjortoftsAirplane

“Pick up a baby gate? You can probably find a used one for cheap. Maybe the kid and the dogs can visit through the gate and get used to one another?” – Stryfe2000Turbo

“Would it be impossible to purchase a handle for a bedroom door (assuming there’s a door) before Christmas?”

“I mean honestly, I’m just curious, cause even locking your dogs away in a room for the whole day is pretty unreasonable now that I think about it. They need to eat, poop, and play! I think you’ve already made the best choice by not having your nephew over.” – NinscoopFOPsnarn

Others said the nephew needed to be placed in therapy.

“NTA. you have already offered the only correct solution—getting a professional to work with your nephew on this phobia (which has already proved dangerous if he is running in the road to escape dogs).”

“Keep pressing on this as hard as you can. Go back to the other family members and work harder to recruit them to the cause. Dogs are everywhere and this issue if left untreated will really degrade your nephew’s quality of life.” – RB1327

“His phobia is interfering with his life and the sooner that is addressed through exposure therapy the better.”

“I’m all for accommodations—I’m disabled and have several phobias—but you have to also work on things like this, especially with kids and even more so if they’re doing things like running into the street to avoid the trigger.” – splinter_wulf

“I wouldn’t even call it enabling – I’d call it straight up harming. Deliberately indulging a child’s fear to the point they endanger their physical safety and refusing to get them into therapy? That’s going to screw her son up in all kinds of ways!”

“NTA. It’s not your duty to harm your dogs to enable her to avoid her parenting duties. I’d go so far as to say it would be cruel to help her do this to your nephew.” – JuliaX1984

“I mean I’ve had a fear of dogs since I was 4 (mild dog attack; pulled me off of my bike). Up until I was 8 or so, I’d refuse to ride my bike past a yard with a dog outside if I was on my own, and occasionally if there were dogs blocking all the routes to a friends house I’d go home and make up a reason why I wouldn’t be coming over. But that was a far cry from running out into the street.”

“Have owned/co-owned at least 1 dog since I got involved with my wife. Meeting dogs is scary, but after doing some obedience training it’s easier on both (the dog and I) of us. It still scares me like little else can when they start barking.”

“The obvious cure is the sister shouldn’t be bringing her son where there are dogs until he gets some therapy to be able to handle this better. If the dogs even can’t be anywhere in the house, the phobia is too severe for her to not address it. The OP will be doing her nibling a long-term favor by sticking to this.”

“NTA.” – coffee_u

Though the OP wondered if they were in the wrong for standing up for their dogs, the subReddit thought they couldn’t be more right. The dogs deserved to be able to relax and be cared for in their home, not placed out in the cold where they could become injured or ill, especially during the holiday season.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.