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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I work in an animal shelter. Thank God more people are bringing unwanted animals to shelters instead of dumping them by the roadside where they risk being struck and killed by cars or attacked by wild animals. At least these animals have a chance at life if they are brought to a shelter.

There is a poster in the shelter where I work which reads: There aren't enough homes for all of them.

For those who are not lucky enough to be chosen, the shelter provides the most humane death possible, with a loving attendant by their sides as they are put to sleep. But what a waste of beautiful life.

Abby, as I write this, I am in tears. The cats and dogs whose cages I clean daily are wonderful, loving animals. It breaks my heart when no one comes to adopt them because when we run out of space, we must choose which ones will be euthanized.

Please print this so pet owners will think about what happens when our country is overpopulated with animals. If only owners would spay or neuter their pets, there wouldn't be so many unwanted animals that must be put to death. -- BEGGING FOR THE ANIMALS IN ARLINGTON, VT.

DEAR BEGGING: Thank you for writing. For years I have encouraged my readers to spay or neuter their pets, and go to shelters to choose an animal companion.

A very dear friend of mine, Rhonda Fleming Mann, went to an animal shelter to get a dog. There she found an adorable mongrel whom she named "Sparkey." No one could hope for a more loving pet. (He looks like a Pomeranian whose mother had more than a sniffing acquaintance with a fox terrier.)

Sparkey is now 14 years old and still going strong. Rhonda's husband, Ted Mann, is also crazy about Sparkey and walks him frequently.

So, dear readers, if you want a pet, consider adopting one from an animal shelter, thereby saving a life.

DEAR ABBY: As a gentleman, I greet other men with a firm handshake. However, over the years I have found that most women do not care to shake hands with men or women.

Occasionally, a woman will offer a hand to shake, but in a very feminine way. The women who do offer a hand tend to be middle-aged or professional women who are accustomed to formality. Older and young women usually do not offer to shake hands. Once I asked a woman why she chose not to, and she replied, "It's a guy thing."

Some women roll their eyes and grudgingly give me a light handshake, apparently just to appease me.

Recently, however, I greeted a woman by just saying, "Hello, I'm pleased to meet you." To my surprise, she offered her hand, so I shook it with medium firmness. She said, "Come on, give me a real shake."

Since I have been rebuffed so much in the past, I no longer extend my hand unless the woman does so first, but how do I know whether to shake a lady's hand firmly or lightly? -- ON SHAKY GROUND, LOS ANGELES

DEAR ON SHAKY GROUND: To be on the safe side, do not offer your hand until the lady has indicated she wishes to use this form of greeting. Then take the middle road and shake her hand with medium firmness.

DEAR ABBY: I often hear people misquoting famous sayings. One in particular gets my goat. The classic adage is NOT "Ignorance is bliss." Correctly, it is "When ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."

Would you help me set the record straight? -- A READER IN LIBERTYVILLE, ILL.

DEAR READER: I'm happy to help set the record straight, but let's make sure it's correct. The quote, "WHERE ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise," is from a poem titled "Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College," by Thomas Gray, who lived from 1716 to 1771.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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