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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: This is a common situation, so you must have covered it before. However, I don't recall seeing it recently.

"Jane" and "John" were married for a number of years and had teen-aged children. "Mary," John's childhood sweetheart, already divorced from an alcoholic husband, came on the scene. John divorced Jane and married Mary.

Many of Jane's friends despise Mary and feel that she "stole" Jane's husband. We are fond of John and both Jane and Mary. We feel that regardless of who made the first call, John must have been unhappy in his marriage, or nothing would have happened. We don't think anyone can "steal" someone's spouse. Besides, it was John who filed for divorce, and if Jane's friends are mad at anyone, it should be him and not Mary.

Obviously, when Jane spreads the fiction about her husband being "stolen," she is compensating for her inability to hold onto her husband.

Abby, I think a lot of folks would be interested in your viewpoint. -- FRIEND OF ALL THREE

DEAR FRIEND: I agree, nobody can "steal" anyone's spouse, but in this case, the woman let the object of her affection know that she was interested and available, which was sufficient to get an affair going. And in the presence of such blatant temptation, it can be very difficult to preserve a marriage -- so don't be too hard on Jane.

DEAR ABBY: How do you deal with relatives who have pets that are treated just like people? I have two sets of family members who own dogs. One has three and the other has one, and they treat their dogs as though they are members of the family. I like dogs, but I'm not a "dog person." I don't think it's cute when their dog climbs on my furniture or begs at the dinner table.

When they visit me, they not only allow their dogs on my furniture, they actually let the dog sleep in bed with them underneath the covers.

These relatives were visiting recently, and we were having a nice family dinner when their dog came to the table, put her front paws on the table and her nose in my plate. The owner remarked, "She's just curious about what's going on." He didn't tell the dog to get down.

I have a small baby, and the dog was very curious about her. I think a dog licking a baby's mouth and face is disgusting. When the dog came over to investigate my baby, I felt uncomfortable pushing it away, since it's not my dog. The owner didn't do a thing. When the dog licked my baby's mouth, she simply said, "She's just curious about what's going on." Abby, I thought I'd die!

I don't feel comfortable reprimanding someone else's dog, especially one they think is a human, but what should I do when the owners give these animals no discipline?

What people do in their own homes with their pets is their business, and if I happen to be visiting them, I will bite my tongue and deal with the dogs at the dinner table and on the furniture. But when someone comes to my home, I would like some respect for my property, and I certainly do not want dogs near my baby. Am I being selfish? -- DOGGED OUT IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR DOGGED OUT: Selfish? No. A wimp? Yes!

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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