DEAR HARRIETTE: My neighbor mentioned that she was going out of town on a work trip and asked me to watch out for her dog once in a while because he can get out of their back door, and her husband, who works from home, doesn't always notice. All week long, I've been occasionally looking over next door in the morning and evening.

Instead of a loose dog, what I have noticed is another woman parking her car in their parking space in the early afternoon and typically leaving in the late evening. I'm not sure who this woman is, but I know that I have never seen her, and my neighbor never mentioned anyone constantly coming over while she would be gone. I'm not sure what's going on. Should I email my neighbor while she's gone or wait until she has returned to bring it up? — Neighborhood Friend

DEAR NEIGHBORHOOD FRIEND: This is tricky. You have no idea who the person is or why she is there. Given that your neighbor asked you to look out for her dog, you were officially asked to watch her home. That means you can and should tell her what you saw. Get the license plate number of the car and a clear description of the woman. When your neighbor returns, tell her about the status of the dog — whatever that is — and also that you noticed someone coming to the house each day. Do not speculate about who it is or why she was there. Just report what you saw.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend is a musical engineer. He has a studio in his home. He recently started with a new artist. While I was visiting him one time, he was working with an artist in the studio. They had just finished the track with lyrics and were playing the song over and over again. I personally found the song to be terrible. I couldn't understand the lyrics; they were off-beat and a bunch of other stuff I found to be horrible. My boyfriend isn't the producer, only the engineer, so what the artist wants is what he should get.

When the artist wanted an outside opinion, he turned and asked me what I thought of the song. I was truthful and told him it was bad; I gave reasons why and said he really should rework the song. My boyfriend gave me a look. He was really upset and told me I could have ruined the relationship to the point that the artist wouldn't hire him again and that it wasn't my place to say those things. I think if someone asks me my opinion, I am going to give it. Should I have lied to protect my boyfriend? — Free Speech

DEAR FREE SPEECH: I vote with your boyfriend — not that you should have lied, but that it wasn't your place to critique this artist. This is your boyfriend's career. You should have excused yourself from the conversation. Next time, don't get involved. This is especially true given that your boyfriend doesn't have the authority to guide any changes that could be made.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

Follow me on Twitter @connie_stardem.

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