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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I need your help. Yesterday, I invited my sister-in-law over for dinner. She came with her dog.

When we were clearing the dishes off the table, she took a plate with some leftovers, set it on the floor, and let her dog clean the plate. I was appalled!

This was the second time she has done this. I said nothing because there were other guests and I didn't want to embarrass her.

When we had pets, they had their own dishes.

I hate going to her house for dinner because I know that every dish and bowl has been licked by her dog. She has no dishwasher. How would your readers react?

She reads your column, and I am hoping she will realize how offensive this is to some people. -- NAME WITHHELD

DEAR NAME WITHHELD: Have I got an idea for an ideal house gift for you to give your sister-in-law!

Buy a couple of dog dishes especially for her dog. You can order some with the dog's name on them. (The dog can't read -- but your sister-in-law can.)

DEAR ABBY: Thank you for many years of sensible, down-to-earth answers to problems that may or may not have entered my life -- they were enlightening anyway. Now for my silly problem. My husband and I (70ish) recently took a trip in our RV and stopped at a favorite restaurant in Pennsylvania that serves "family style." In other words, platters of food are on the table for all to share.

Upon leaving, I visited the ladies room, and since the woman attendant was bustling around the lavatories, I skipped washing my hands, intending to do so in the RV. I was shocked when the attendant stopped me and asked if I was entering the dining room. I said, "No, I'm leaving." It was very embarrassing, to say the least. I've heard of "potty parity" -- what is this? "Potty police"? Is this custom prevalent? -- RED-FACED IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR RED-FACED: I've never heard of it, but the attendant must be a mother. And once a mother, always a mother. Old habits die hard.

DEAR ABBY: I'm only 13, but I really need your help. Recently, the mother of one of my friends was strangled in her home. She is a classmate of mine and I'll have to talk to her because the thought of ignoring it sounds unbelievably rude. The problem is, I have no idea what to say!

I don't want to hurt her. What should I say? Or would it be better to say nothing at all? -- LOST FOR WORDS IN TENNESSEE

DEAR LOST: Say, "I'm sorry about your mom ..."

People are eating them up! For Abby's favorite recipes, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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