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updated: 8/9/2013 3:30 PM

She bought her dog, but tells people she adopted it

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Q. I recently "adopted" a purebred dog, or at least, that's how I think of it. Some people ask, did you adopt her? I just say yes. Is she a mix? I say, "Nope, she is a (breed)." Is she a rescue? This forces me to say: "No, I got her from a breeder in Pittsburgh."

If they ask this last question, my answer gets an odd stare at best and a preachy and judgmental reaction at worst.

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Hey, I get that people are passionate about giving needy dogs loving homes. But I knew what kind of dog I wanted, and I love her, and if someone didn't give her a great home she'd become a rescue anyway! It seems similar to giving a hard time to a person using a surrogate instead of adopting a kid. Mind your own business! When people go on about this, is there anything I can say?

Also Feel a Bit Guilty They're Right

A. If you don't want an "odd stare," then maybe you should stop telling people you adopted a dog that you actually bought from a breeder.

Yes, people can be judgmental, about everything they can think of to be judgmental about. But when you fudge to cover your guilt complex, you don't make them think very hard.

From now on, when people ask you whether you adopted your dog, don't get cute. Just say, "No, I got her from a breeder." If they try to guilt you for bypassing shelters, then remind yourself whose business it is, and handle it as you would any other intrusion: "(Shrug.) This is what worked for me."

By the way since you agree to a degree with your critics, why not put your money where your guilt is? There's more than one way to rescue a dog.

Q. I'm starting to think some family members believe my husband and I have a drinking problem. We drink beer or wine a few nights a week, usually a glass or two. Honestly, that's it. We don't drink every night or to excess. We're both healthy, active, and in good careers.

But, after a few recent swipes, I'm wondering if I'm being delusional: my half-full glass of wine getting "accidentally" poured down the drain, or a non-drinking family member announcing that I "need to get cut off" because I laughed too loudly, apparently, at a joke.

I'm at a loss on how to address this, or if I should address it at all. If I ask if they believe we have a problem, they'll think I'm confirming their assumptions. Should I just tell them to shove it (politely)? Dial back the beer at the next family gathering? Dial back the beer generally? Are we really outside the norm here?!

J.

A. It is the norm for people to underestimate, minimize and deny how much they drink.

It is the norm for people to judge others through their own warped lenses.

Who has the warped view in your case? No idea.

So, test yourself. Put your real numbers into "Rethinking Drinking," www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov, via the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Talk to your doctor, too.

If a denial-free inquiry confirms that your drinking is low-risk, then practice your "whatever" face and brush off any misplaced concern.

• Email Carolyn at tellmewashpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

2013 The Washington Post

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