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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Please tell your animal-loving readers everywhere to mark their calendars. Pet Adoptathon 2000 will take place on May 6 and 7. The first Pet Adoptathon of the new millennium promises to be the biggest, most exciting lifesaving weekend the world has ever experienced. Last year's event was unbelievable -- more than 37,000 animals' lives were saved through the hard work and dedication of more than 2,400 animal organizations around the globe.

What began as a local event at North Shore Animal League has flourished into a huge international celebration -- the foremost occasion in the 21st century for all animal groups to join forces and find loving homes for more orphaned pets. This year, the league and shelters across the country and around the world are working tirelessly toward one goal -- to increase the number of dogs, cats, puppies and kittens placed with loving, caring adopters during Pet Adoptathon 2000.

North Shore Animal League is calling on all animal lovers to start off the century on the right foot and paw. Open your hearts and homes to the innocent animal orphans available for adoption. Their lives depend on it. -- J. JOHN STEVENSON, PRESIDENT, NORTH SHORE ANIMAL LEAGUE

DEAR JOHN: I'm pleased to help spread the word. Readers, for the name of a participating shelter near you, call the North Shore Animal League's toll-free number: 1-877-236-9725. Many shelters will be open extended hours -- some through the night -- to help you find that special pet, that perfect furry friend who will give you a lifetime of love and devotion.

That said, I would like to add: Before you rush out to adopt one of these orphan pets, please take a moment to be sure you are ready to make a commitment that will last for many years. Pets are wonderful, but they require proper care and attention, and many require training to be the pleasurable companions you may be seeking.

If you are ready for this responsibility, get to the shelter early -- and select the pet who was born to be loved by you!

DEAR ABBY: Have you ever heard of a "weight-loss shower"? The premise of the shower is a celebration of weight loss. The individual hosting the shower has lost 30 pounds, and this definitely is cause for celebration.

The "catch" to this shower is that the guests are expected to bring monetary gifts so the hostess can buy a new wardrobe to fit her smaller figure.

I would love to hear what you and your readers think about such a shower. -- AMBIGUOUS IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR AMBIGUOUS: Weight loss certainly is a positive reason for supportive family and friends to get together and help the hostess celebrate. However, she has no business hosting her own "shower." Furthermore, I'm taken aback by the idea that guests will be expected to foot the bill for a new wardrobe. If such a shower is successful, what's to stop someone who has put on a few pounds from using a shower to raise money for a wardrobe for his or her fuller figure -- or a kitchen shower to replace broken dishes, or a bedding shower because the sheets are getting thin? Readers, care to comment?

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