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Ask Ellie: Keep an eye on neighbour's kids, but don't intrude

If another incident occurs, you will have to speak up, for the children’s sake. For now, just keep a watchful eye.

Dear reader: As I noted in an earlier column, my daughter Lisi will be handling the writing duties a few times a week. Enjoy her take on today’s questions. - Ellie

My neighbour’s wife is a whirling dervish. She’s loud, always yelling — at her husband, the kids, anyone in her vicinity. In my opinion, she’s unhinged and a negligent mom. They have three young children, all under 11.

Recently, I came home and went out to my yard to see my dog. I noticed her two youngest in their yard, playing with their dogs, while the gardener, a retired elderly man, was working nearby. Something felt off, so I asked where their mom was … none of them knew! She had left her kids with the gardener and had gone out.

I brought the kids over to my place (our kids are friends), and let the gardener get on with it and then leave.

I called her but she didn’t answer, so I called her husband. He was appreciative, left work as early as possible and got his kids. Later that night, I heard a lot of yelling and banging — loud enough to wake the neighbourhood.

It’s obvious they have issues, which aren’t my business, but the safety and well-being of their kids IS my business — as a neighbour, friend, mom, and human being. I’m worried about their safety and mental health.

What can I do to help, but also stay out of her destructive path?

Neighbour with a conscience

You did the right thing. The most important factor here is the children’s safety. At this point, I would stay quiet. They know you know. She’s (hopefully) embarrassed and he’s grateful. If another incident occurs, you will have to speak up, for the children’s sake. For now, just keep a watchful eye but don’t intrude.

My granddaughter was begging my daughter for a puppy. My daughter and her husband both grew up with dogs, but when they first married and started their family, they lived in a small house, on one small salary, while my son-in-law tried to find his footing.

Finally, my granddaughter showed them an ad on an online classified site for a mini-Bernedoodle that was impossible to resist. My daughter caved and got the puppy. But they immediately knew something wasn’t right, and the vet confirmed that the puppy was actually a German Shepherd-Bernese mix!

Now they’re stuck with what will be a HUGE dog, just as my son-in-law is getting back on his feet, and my daughter is working two jobs. The kids (two under age 10) are too small to walk the puppy.

I’m out of the picture with hip replacement surgery in the next month. How can I help this sweet gesture turned disaster?

Furry Granma

You’re kind to be involved and worried about your extended family. This is not an ideal situation. But I get it — once you see those puppy eyes, it’s hard to walk away, and this came with a no-return policy. If affordable, get them a dog walker; or offer childcare after school, so the parents can walk the dog. Help teach the children how to feed, play and care for the pup so they can do their best.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: [email protected].