Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Irresponsible Dog Owners Ruin Neighborhood Walks

DEAR ABBY: I am an older man in fairly good health. I walk regularly in the early mornings (to avoid the hot Texas sun). My problem is the number of dogs that are allowed to run loose through the streets. I must carry a heavy cane to beat the dogs off my legs at times. Sometimes the owners give me a hard time about that, but it's necessary to keep the dogs from biting me. The owners seem to think the dogs have the right to roam at will and bite anyone they choose.

There are so many dogs in our neighborhood that the back yards look like dog pounds, and the "gifts" the dogs leave on everyone's lawns are disgusting! The owners couldn't care less.

Abby, in my opinion, some of the uncooperative owners should be jailed. What do you think? -- FED UP IN CORPUS CHRISTI

DEAR FED UP: For the sake of the animals as well as pedestrians, it's unconscionable for owners to allow their dogs to run free in their neighborhood. The animals could be injured or killed, and very few neighbors appreciate the "gifts" dogs leave behind. The loose dogs should be reported so that the owners can be notified or cited if they refuse to control their pets. Continue calling until the job is done.

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a wealthy, successful businessman for a year. I am a working single mother of two who is financially stable and independent. I own my home, have savings and retirement, and have always been sensible with money.

From the beginning he has told me he was attracted to me because I am "down-to-earth, honest, genuine and not materialistic."

We have recently been discussing marriage. I love him, and feel certain about our relationship in every way. However, I am hesitant about marrying him for one reason: He wants a prenuptial agreement. I have told him that I feel it shouts, "I do not trust you," and it makes me feel that he lacks the desire for a lifetime commitment through thick and thin, good and bad, sickness and health. I also feel it hinders the bond of oneness and unity that a Christian marriage is based upon.

Abby, I truly do not want anything he has worked for and have given him my promise on that issue. I am a compromising person, but I feel very strongly about a "pre-nup." May I add that I did not take my first husband "to the cleaners" after 15 years of marriage.

Please advise me. I want my next marriage to be my last. -- OLD-FASHIONED SOUTHERN LADY

DEAR OLD-FASHIONED: Please rethink your position and do not regard his insistence on having a prenuptial agreement as an insult. The purpose of the document is to protect BOTH parties should the unthinkable occur.

DEAR ABBY: "B.J." in Arkansas said she loops the strap of her handbag over her arm and then rests it on the child's seat in a shopping cart. I did that, too, but I didn't take the time to snap all the snaps and zip all the zippers on my handbag.

Someone distracted me, and when I looked away briefly, my wallet was removed from my handbag in a flash. I discovered the wallet was missing when I got to the cash register to pay for my purchases. -- KNOWS BETTER NOW IN SCOTTSDALE

DEAR KNOWS BETTER NOW: Ouch! You learned an expensive lesson. Thank you for warning other shoppers to keep their purses closed.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600