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My best friend is amazing and I love her like a sister. My mom and I live in a house my BFF owns which has been a blessing to us as she charges less than market rate. In addition, my BFF has been there to listen to my struggles when I moved here and became a caregiver. She visited my mom when she was in the hospital and nursing home and allowed her to move in with me. She is a really loving and kind person.


Tragically, her husband has cancer. It is progressing. They are in and out of the ER every few weeks. The last time they went in, as soon as I logged off work I left and went straight to the ER because I already knew she was going to need her dog cared for. As soon as I walked into the ER she sobbed saying she was just about to text me to go pick up her dog from the house.


I am looking for general advice here on how to handle balancing my duties with what I just 'feel in my spirit' may be a time approaching of more help needed by my BFF. She just texted me asking if I could go pick up the dog again as DH is back in the hospital. I am a bit lost now between how much to start saying yes versus boundary setting now. Last time I got the dog I cancelled plans to 'go out' into 'the city' an hour away with my mom - that's my 'respite' these days so having time in the city away from here helps a ton.


If I pick up the dog today I will cancel the same plans again - this time I feel a bit anxious as the dog urinated, pooped and vomited in the carpet during the last stay so it wasn't just a matter of cancelling plans and caring for my mom - the caring for the dog for some reason just tipped my stress levels up more than I expected. I feel horrible for wanting to say no to someone going through someone this tragic. Perhaps I could suggest paying for her to take the dog to the kennel moving forward when no one else can pick it up?

Looks like you did things for this friend prior to moving into the house and while living in the house. Taking on a landlords responsibility deservers a cut in rent. So maybe she is not doing a favor for you but paying you back.

If you had the storm where you are like the one we had, no way would I have gone out in it after dark either. And, I would not be caring for a dog that seems to have anxiety separation problems.
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OP, it may be time to consider the worst case scenario of your friend’s poor husband going into care or passing away from his cancer and your friend deciding to sell the property you live in. Things change, nothing is permanent.

Below-market is great of course but the unhappy, messy, barking dog on top of your mom’s issues … Being effectively trapped by obligations to both this friend and your mom … it sounds very trying to me.

Thinking of you!
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PsalmsTestimony Mar 24, 2024
Actually, that is a topic perhaps for another thread albeit related because it has been weighing on my mind heavily recently. I had approached my friend twice last year about selling the house to me but nothing ever came of it as she had no response to me asking her about her interest in selling to me, I had to assume there is no interest in selling which is fine. I did not press the issue because of the situation with DH.

When I have approached her asking just how long we can continue to rent here and what are her visions/plans for keeping or selling (specifying that I intend to be here for a handful of years but 'could' end choosing to stay here indefinitely) she just always says 'you and your mom can stay here as long as you want/need').

I was given the opportunity twice to move abroad through work last year which has been a long term dream of mine. Both times the opportunity to transfer fell through. It was around this time that she had expressed being excited for me for said opportunities but how her and DH honestly hope I don't ever leave the house any time soon. She has expressed on multiple occasions that how although she hates the circumstances under which I moved here, I ended up in her home at a time where she kept 'saying' she was going to rent it but needed help cleaning it out/putting it on the market/and did not want strangers in her home but was losing money having to pay for an empty house while she lived with her then fiance.

I tend to think she'd be upset if I left anytime soon as she has explicitly stated DH has mentioned 'what are they going to do if Psalms decides to leave/we literally don't have to worry about anything with the house now that she's renting it'. As such I think the risk of being 'put out' is low, however, I acknowledge it could happen so for now I just try to put some money away for worst case scenario. It also wouldn't necessarily be a horrible thing because I only moved here for my mom and neither she nor myself want to remain here long term. If my friend were to say she wants to sell the house to me I would buy it because: it's in a very inexpensive area, it could be easily modified to fit my mom's needs and the mortgage on a home like this in a smaller town would be lower than any other place I'd 'choose' to live myself. I'm willing to make living here a bit more permanent because my mom would do well here. I myself am not doing well here (I am having trouble finding good competent healthcare for myself for new issues that have arisen since becoming a caregiver and am heavily grieving the previous place/city and friends I moved away from) and do not want to stay here yet I'm willing to make such a sacrifice and do just that because my mom's few friends (although she is seeing them wayyyyy less now post stroke) are here and she is familiar with the area.

I did mention this whole housing thing is another topic in and of itself lol. Just as I was about to hit 'post' on this, it JUST literally dawned on me that it might not be THIS house that gets sold. In the midst of all my own craziness going on the past year and a half, I literally never had that thought until just now. They live together in maybe 5kish square feet...

...maybe I'm in the home she plans to come back to. O.O
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Psalms, direct or blunt questions/comments can have huge value. They can make us sit up & take notice! Look again with fresh eyes. Re-evaluate.

"I love my friend and intend to help".

If dog-sitting is not your thing, that's ok! You can find a different way to help. The best arrangements, spoken or unspoken, work for BOTH sides ☺️
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PsalmsTestimony Mar 23, 2024
I agree. And that is what I am trying to sort through. Just because I may not be able to help in the way I have been, maybe I can do it in a different way such as offering to pay x amount in boarding costs that may arise (one example). For reasons already mentioned I know I will be limited going forward in agreeing to the ‘can you go and get the dog now for an indefinite amount of time’ requests but good advice has been given here with respect to boundary setting and such and I appreciate that.
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Ok. You’re living in the bff house below market with your mom out of the goodness of her heart. She’s asked for you to pet sit twice and you’re upset that you didn’t get to go to the city for fun.

If you want ironclad boundaries, then quit depending on your friends’ charity in terms of the rent.
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PsalmsTestimony Mar 23, 2024
Fair enough. Although I must say I have sitted for the dog multiple times. Not just twice over the past month-ish. And although I am being charged under market rate, I have started paying over what she charges me, bumping up the amount I pay in rent voluntarily over the past 8 months with the intention to be at market rate soon since she doesn’t charge market rate to me. I am paying for certain repairs and landscaping and other work many renters do not pay because I know she cannot be bothered with anything with the house now that DH is so sick. I was her maid of honor upon moving here when my mom was sick, planning her entire wedding on 10 days notice, becoming the photographer on 1 day notice, loaning a ton of money in wheelchairs and medical equipment I’d paid out of pocket for long periods that I needed said things for my own mom, etc. I won’t go into additional details with other things I’ve helped with because it’s just not necessary. Our friendship isn’t quid pro quo like that. She has family here and DH’a family and I moved here solo and have no one. I am a caregiver too so I do not believe it is out of the question to think about boundaries. That is not even to mention my mom’s mental condition I am still adjusting to and learning of new deficits from time to time. (Example: I am not able to prove it but I believe my mom may have snuck food to the dog that made it sick the last time it stayed with me.). I would say not to be so quick to judge me as a complainypants when you can’t possibly know all the details behind why it’s important for me to consider just how much I’m able to reasonably do. I made it pretty clear how much I love my friend and intend to help.
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She can hire a dog sitter - Rover.com .
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Reply to KNance72
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Alva's sit down and have a discussion is perfect. It keeps doors open, begins to set boundaries.
I would add that since being at your house stresses the dog (or maybe the dog is the same way at your friends house) tell your friend that you don't mind keeping the dog for a bit on occasion but you will need a crate for it so that it is sheltered and calm in it's space.
If you need more notice to pick up the dog let her know that as well.
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PsalmsTestimony Mar 23, 2024
I can definitely get a crate if by chance she needs help with the dog again soon. I have used a crate with her several times before however the issue with that is she does not bark outside of the crate. Inside of the crate she cries and barks nonstop and I do mean nonstop all day and (if kept in the crate) all night.
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The dog being at your home seems to stress it out. This I would mention to her after her crisis is over. If possible, gate him invthe kitchen. Of course having himnis stressful ifbur not used to dogs. And then cleaning up their mess. Also, make sure you tell her in advance that you and Mom are going to the city and what weekend so you won't be available for any dog emergencies. She may have to line someone else up just in case. Never tell her you have had to ditch your plans before.
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PsalmsTestimony Mar 23, 2024
Honestly I lean towards not telling her when I have plans to say go somewhere. She has been saying things lately that touch on how much she wishes she could go places and do normal things again. I did end up declining to pick up the dog last night (I did not give an explanation although I was not too keen on going out to her house alone at night while it was storming as I wasn't going to bring my mom out in that in the car). She had replied and fortunately as I hadn't responded that quickly she had spoken with a cousin to go and get the dog. I do appreciate your advice.
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I would say for now, for this next few weeks, you should BE THERE as much as you conceivably CAN be there.
It sounds to me, like all of this is coming to a crisis point where your friend may understand that she is unable to handle hubby at home, or when hubby is too ill to return home. Right now I would say all of this is quite up in the air.

This BF has been very good to you. You owe her. And you should do this for some period of time (I think two weeks is reasonable; you will begin to get an idea where all this is "going"). Then you may need to sit her down and say exactly what I said.
For instance:
"Judy, you know I love you. You have been more than a friend to me. You have been a lifesaver to me. And I know I not only OWE you big time, but I WANT to help you. Here's my problem: (this is where you insert the realities of your own life, work, caregiving, whatever is on your plate).
Can we sit over a glass of wine so I can explain my limitations, and so I can tell you where I can help? And can we troubleshoot how to get in more help where I can't? I want to BE THERE for you both. I just cannot always, and especially without notice."

Quite honestly there is not substitute for honesty.
What you told us is the truth.
Right now do all you can heroically. In a few weeks you will know more. It is my hope you won't have to "go there", but you may.

Best of luck. Hope you will update us.
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AlvaDeer Mar 23, 2024
Agree, Beatty. This may be a social contract. But it is one not verbalized. I think that is part of all the discomfort around this.

You are correct. It may be time not to be part of this contract.
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This seems to be a unspoken kind of *social contract*.

The OP & Mother rent from BFF & pay less than market rate.
The OP provides occassional emergemcy dog sitting for BFF.

What exactly is the issue?

More notice is needed in order to change plans?
The dog is too hard to manage?
An additional dog sitter service as backup?
Maybe the OP would rather end this *social contract*?
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PsalmsTestimony Mar 23, 2024
The primary issue is that for me, keeping the dog is stressful. As a caregiver the messes are a bit much for me on top of my current duties. It's also a crazy busy time at work and I work from home. As of today I have not left the house (literally have not gone outdoors) for a week. Totally mostly my fault, however, when I get the dog I may have it for 2 days or 10; there is not really a way to know how long it will be and now she is unable to drop off or pick up the dog going forward as she is not comfortable leaving DH at home alone (which I totally understand). So being confined to the house for the additional days I keep the dog (whenever I agree to doing so) is a bit tough as I end up having to stay in the house even more than I typically plan to.
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You can tell her about rover.com. Rover will either go to your house or you can bring your dog to their home. They provide reliable dog sitters who have references.

There are also dog daycares available for boarding.

Hopefully, your friend will understand. I watch my daughter’s dog for her when she needs me, but when I can’t and she is never upset. She brings him to daycare or boards him when necessary.

My daughter uses Camp Bow Wow. They have tons of locations and they are great. She uses one in New Orleans now and she also used one in Denver.
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PsalmsTestimony Mar 23, 2024
She's aware of them and has used them before. She has mentioned not wanting to incur additional expenses due to debt accrued/continuing to accrue as a result of DH's condition. (Sigh)
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Surely she has a neighbor who can do what you're doing for the dog? It's a matter of feeding and walking, right? If the dog could stay in its own home, it might not feel so upset that it upchucks and pees on a carpet.

There are dog-sitting services that can provide a person to go to your BF's house and walk and feed the dog. Check some out. Then tell BF that you love her and her dog, but it's not working out for you. Cite the pee, poop and vomit issues. Remind her that you're too stressed from taking care of your mom. Say that Fido would be so much better off in their home than in yours. Then offer to set it up so that the pet-sitter can meet Fido and be ready next time help is needed. If you're so inclined, you could even offer to pay the sitter, since you feel so sad and awful that you can't do it. (But BF should really pay her own sitter, since it's her dog.)

I hope you find a solution.
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PsalmsTestimony Mar 23, 2024
She's aware of the paid services and has used them before. She has mentioned not wanting to incur additional expenses due to debt accrued/continuing to accrue as a result of DH's condition. (Sigh)

Good point RE: the neighbors - perhaps she has used them before; I am not sure. I did end up declining to get the dog last night (it was storming and I did not want to drive out to her area at night without my mom as I also wasn't going to take her out). I chose not to give any explanations as honestly I wasn't sure that would help/add any value.

I'm giving this more thought because the past 6 months they have been in and out of the hospital so much and like I said I just have this feeling for some reason that she is going to start really needing more help with the dog. I think that if it's a weekend where I don't plan on leaving, or I can bring the dog 'to the city' with my mom and I, I will do my best to say yes but I will try to find help for her if I can't do it and she's having trouble.
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I actually was just in similar situations, for 2 years with a neighbor/friend, nothing like the closeness you 2 share but the wife of are very sick neighbor just became to much to needy. I felt horrible, but mom and life keeps me busy enough, we finally had a falling out for a few months, when he got sicker, I started to drop of food and stuff leaving notes, to help her. We made up and she seemed to of got it, and never overwhelmed me again. He passed 4 months ago.
That's my story, I have no clue what advice I can give but figured I'd share it with you
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PsalmsTestimony Mar 23, 2024
Thank you for sharing.
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