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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I would be grateful for the rest of my life if you would please print this. It could save lives.

Many people are not aware that there are now seat belts for dogs. They cost between $10 and $20, and keep dogs from jumping out of windows or crashing through windshields in accidents.

As an additional benefit, the animals are forced to sit and cannot jump all over the car, which is a distraction for the driver.

I bought my dog, Puppet, a seat belt at the local pet store. Every time I see a dog on a driver's lap in front of the steering wheel, I have the urge to make the driver stop so that I can show him or her Puppet's seat belt. -- ELISABETH SAENZ, GARLAND, TEXAS

DEAR ELISABETH: I didn't know that seat belts for dogs existed, but they certainly make sense. By the way, yours was not the only letter from a concerned animal lover that arrived today in my mail. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Please print this warning to your bird-loving readers. It is unsafe to put red dye into the sugar water for hummingbird feeders. The dye causes tumors to develop on the birds' tongues, which prevents them from feeding, and they die.

Please, Abby, help defenseless hummingbirds. They don't need red dye to find the food. -- ARIZONA APRIL

DEAR ARIZONA APRIL: According to the National Audubon Society in New York and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, "There is no evidence that adding red (or other) food coloring to sugar water will harm birds." A more practical idea is to put your feeder near red flowers or buy a red hummingbird feeder.

Bird lovers should be aware that sugar water ferments when left in the hot sun, turning the nectar deadly. Do not put out a feeder unless you are willing to clean it once or twice a week.

DEAR ABBY: I felt sad for "Hurt Bride," who couldn't accept her pregnant sister-in-law as a bridesmaid. She is forgetting that there is cause for much celebration in her family -- a wedding AND a new baby.

A week after my husband's sister and her fiance announced their wedding date, we had to call and tell them I was pregnant and due right around the date of their wedding. My husband might have been able to attend the wedding if the baby was born by then, but that was all we could promise. Instead of being hurt, they congratulated us and postponed their wedding for two months.

At the wedding, when I thanked my new brother-in-law for rearranging their plans for us, he touched our new baby's head and said, "You were worth it." One reason I like reading your column is that it reaffirms what wonderful families I was born and married into. -- SUZANNA BORTZ, LAGUNA NIGUEL, CALIF.

DEAR SUZANNA: "Hurt Bride" would be wise to note your families' priorities.

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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