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by Abigail Van Buren

Working Guide Dogs Are Not There to Be Petted

DEAR ABBY: I am a retired psychiatrist who became blind as a result of a gunshot wound during a burglary in my home. Since that time I have relied on my guide dog, Alder, to maintain my independence. I was very pleased to see the letter in your column from Carl Augusto of the American Foundation for the Blind, which gave people tips on what sighted people should do when they meet a blind person. I'd like to add a few points that weren't covered, specifically about what people should and should not do when meeting a blind person with a guide dog.

Alder is a friendly 3-year-old black lab, and people's first inclination is to pet him. However, when guide dogs are working, they are responsible for the safety of their masters. Petting, distracting, or worse, feeding guide dogs while they are working can be very dangerous. A distracted dog may lead its master into a harmful situation. Also, if you see a blind person with a guide dog whom you suspect may need assistance, please ask that person first. He or she can tell you how to safely provide help without interfering with the dog.

Abby, thank you for giving me this opportunity to let people know about a subject that is so important to those of us who rely on our guide dogs. -- JOHN PHELAN, M.D., WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CALIF.

DEAR DR. PHELAN: I'm passing along the message. A person walking with a guide dog should not be mistaken for someone taking a stroll with a pet. The animal is working and should not be petted.

It's fine to comment that the dog is beautiful, dutiful or well-trained. But anything beyond that could be seriously distracting.

DEAR ABBY: I've been married to the greatest man for the last eight years. We have only one problem. Because he's an avid golfer and I'm not, he promised me, before we were married, one vacation each year anywhere in the world. The choice is entirely mine to make.

Our travels so far have included India, Nepal, Vietnam, etc. In October, we have a cruise scheduled to the Middle East (Oman, Yemen, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.) Abby, he absolutely refuses to go! The cruise line assures me that they won't sail if the Persian Gulf is not safe.

My husband reads only the sports section and your column in our local paper, so I know he'll see your answer. Shouldn't he keep his premarital travel agreement? Please advise. -- RESTLESS IN RANCHO MIRAGE

DEAR RESTLESS: The U.S. government issues travel advisories to alert American tourists when certain countries are experiencing a political climate that might be dangerous to them. Your travel agent should be able to reassure your husband that he won't be cruising into hostile waters.

However, that may not be the core issue. Regardless of the premarital agreement, joint vacations are meant to be enjoyed by both parties. Since you have the money, surely there is some other area of the world you could visit that you would both enjoy without one party being fearful. Why not negotiate?

DEAR ABBY: Approximately 12 years ago, a close male friend had a little too much to drink. I offered him a place to spend the night -- the other side of my bed. Nothing happened between us. We just slept in the same bed. A few weeks later, my friend introduced me to my future husband. We have been happily married for 10 years.

Recently my husband and some buddies at work were discussing the things women tell their husbands. He mentioned the above situation. None of the men believed this could happen, so now my husband does not believe me.

How many of your readers have had a similar experience? I would love to prove his buddies wrong. -- CLEARING MY NAME, NOT MY CONSCIENCE

DEAR CLEARING: Many men and women have shared a bed all night and nothing has happened. This includes married couples. Trust me. Readers, I welcome your input.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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