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by Abigail Van Buren

Pet Owners Everywhere Must Heed These Words

DEAR ABBY: I'm sending you an article that was published by the SPCA of Texas. It brought me to tears when I read it, knowing how many owners abuse and neglect their pets. It also reminded me how much my little dog loves and depends on me.

Please, please put this in your column with the hope that it might make even one abusive pet owner stop abusing his or her pet, or just as a reminder to other pet owners about how sensitive and loving their pets are. If it saves even one helpless pet from further abuse or neglect, it will be worth space in your column. -- LISA D. FOURNIER, ALLEN, TEXAS

DEAR LISA: I think it's excellent, and well worth sharing with my readers. I hope those who need the message will take it to heart. Read on:

TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR A RESPONSIBLE PET OWNER

1. My life is likely to last 10 to 15 years. Any separation from you will be very painful.

2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.

3. Place your trust in me -- it is crucial for my well-being.

4. Don't be angry with me for long, and don't lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainment. I HAVE ONLY YOU!

5. Talk to me. Even if I don't understand your words, I understand your voice when it's speaking to me.

6. Be aware that however you treat me, I'll NEVER forget it.

7. Before you hit me, remember that I have teeth that could easily crush the bones in your hand, but I choose not to bite you.

8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I'm not getting the right food, I've been out in the sun too long, or my heart may be getting old and weak.

9. Take care of me when I get old. You, too, will grow old.

10. Go with me on difficult journeys. Never say, "I can't bear to watch it" or, "Let it happen in my absence." Everything is easier for ME if you are there. Remember, I love you.

DEAR ABBY: I am a writer of short stories and poetry, but I think I would have to ponder a long time to top the letter I read in your column a few weeks ago.

It concerned a woman who was cremated and her ashes spread over the family plot, to give life to the wildflowers -- only to have a drought set in. Still she produced an abundance of forget-me-nots.

Truly a tale of God's love for those understanding his promise and how he will carry it through. Thank you and the lady for sharing it. -- MEL IN PHOENIX

DEAR MEL: Thank you for the kind words. Her letter touched me, too.

DEAR ABBY: Dr. James Prentice of Austin, Texas, wrote to you about being on the set of "That Hagen Girl" in 1947 and seeing "a young Ronald Reagan and a young actress whose name I don't recall."

I wonder how many people wrote to say that the young actress was probably Shirley Temple in her first "grown-up" role? -- MARGARET BROMBAUER, MILWAUKEE

DEAR MARGARET: A dozen -- but your letter was the first to arrive, so yours is the one I'm printing. Thanks for setting the record straight.

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 $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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