Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I shop in an upscale shoe store. On the past two visits there, a middle-aged salesman kissed my wife's hand when we left. I was surprised but not offended, considering it to be nothing more than an old-fashioned expression of courtesy. The man is knowledgeable, helpful and honest. My wife, however, disagrees. She says his gesture is forward and inappropriate and that I should resent it. Who's right? -- T.R. IN HOUSTON

DEAR T.R.: You are. The kiss-on-the-hand routine may be part of the man's sales technique. If he has done it before and your wife had no objection, then it's not surprising he did it a second time. What would she like you to do -- challenge him to a duel? If she felt the gesture was inappropriate, then she shouldn't have offered her hand to him a second time.

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DEAR ABBY: I hope you will share the following tips for dealing with orphaned or injured wildlife. Once people understand how to handle an encounter with an injured animal they will make safe decisions and possibly have a positive impact on nature:

1. The animal may not be orphaned! Deer leave their babies hidden in clumps of bushes or tall grass while they search for food. A baby bird that has fallen from the nest can be gently picked up and returned.

2. If you find an orphaned or injured animal, be very cautious. Frightened animals and animals in pain will bite. Opossums, raccoons and other mammals can carry rabies.

3. Do not bring the animal inside to nurse it back to health and keep as a pet. It will probably need the care of a veterinarian, and it's illegal in most states to keep a native species without a license. Contact a wildlife rehabilitation center. Your local park service can point you to the nearest rehab center.

4. After any contact with an injured/orphaned animal, wash your hands and change your clothing as soon as possible. You don't know what germs the animal may be carrying.

5. Teach children about local wildlife. If they find an animal that is sick or injured, make sure they know they should tell an adult right away.

6. You can make a difference. Severely injured animals may not be able to return to the wild, but many rehab centers keep them as display animals and use them to teach the public more about them. Unless you are a veterinarian, you cannot accurately determine if an animal will survive or not. Animals that really have no chance will be humanely euthanized instead of left to suffer, which in a case like that, is the kindest thing that can be done. -- CARLY IN RICHMOND HEIGHTS, OHIO

DEAR CARLY: I hope my animal-loving readers will give your letter the consideration it deserves, because it highlights the fact that sometimes people -- with the best of intentions -- can cause more harm than good. If you encounter an injured animal, the wisest thing to do is contact animal control or a local shelter.

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DEAR ABBY: My friend says if it weren't for sex, you wouldn't have enough material to write your column. I disagree, and have told him that you could still do your columns. What say you? -- TOM AND JERRY IN CINCINNATI

DEAR TOM AND JERRY: I say I could -- but it wouldn't be as much fun.

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To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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