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by Abigail Van Buren

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DEAR READERS: I recently received a delightful book titled "The Kindness of Strangers -- A Collection of Animal Rescue Stories" published by the Auxiliary for Dekalb Animals Inc., a nonprofit organization in Illinois dedicated to promoting the welfare of animals. One story caught my eye, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:

THE STORY OF ABBY

During the summer of 1987, I was helping my daughter clear some mountain river property she had purchased. As we approached a pile of wooden pallets, we heard a crying sound and saw an injured, starving Doberman dog crawl out from under the stack. After feeding her part of our sandwiches, we attempted to find her owner, thinking she might have strayed. The nearest neighbor told us, "People put dogs like that out all the time -- the best thing you can do for her is shoot her." We stopped our search for her owner.

We brought her home that evening; she was frightened and starving. We fed her and loved her. She immediately took up with my cat and licked the cat like it was her baby. The next day, I took her to the vet and discovered she had several broken ribs and a fungus on her paw, which might require amputation. The vet fixed her up as best he could. As I was paying the bill, they wanted the dog's name for their records. I thought for a minute and said, "Her name would have to be Abby!"

Abby's ribs mended. Her fungus healed after six months of treatment and she gained weight. She became a permanent member of our family.

Last year, my husband entered a nursing home and I now live alone. All my neighbors have elaborate security systems and a few own guns. All I need is Abby. She's the best security I could have. -- NOT ALONE IN ATLANTA