Modern Etiquette: When Bob's dog dies, do you send flowers?

Mon Mar 7, 2011 5:41am EST
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Mary Mitchell has written several books on the subject of etiquette, including "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Etiquette" and "Class Acts." She is also the founder of executive training consultancy The Mitchell Organization with the website The opinions expressed are her own.

By Mary Mitchell

SEATTLE (Reuters Life!) - In the old days, I had been known to point at dogs in the street and sputter callously, "That is why zoos exist. Animals should be behind bars."

That was before ZsaZsa, our French bulldog, entered my life, albeit unbidden by this columnist.

When I told my cousin, Kate, that we were about to get a puppy, she effused, "The dog will make you a better person. You will love her."

Wiser words never were spoken. Indeed, that little pup taught me, among so many other things, how to play, how to be patient, and how to be in the moment.

In short order, little ZZ created a family from my husband and me, and shared all the happy and not-so-happy moments with equal spirit, love, and loyalty.

Humbled, I have a new, zealous appreciation for the role our pets play in our lives and how -- when we lose them -- we can be as devastated as if we had lost a child.

I've long preached how important condolences are, when someone loses a loved one. Clients often ask how best to do this, especially when they might not have known the deceased, who might have been a colleague's spouse, parent, child.   Continued...