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by Abigail Van Buren

Grief Over Pet's Death Costs Woman Her Job

DEAR ABBY: A year ago, my family and I suffered a tragic loss. Our 11-year-old Pomeranian dog "Poofy" was injured in an accident and died several days later. Poofy had been my constant companion and best friend since we adopted him as a puppy. As a single woman, I thought of him as my only child. I am still under treatment for the depression caused by his unexpected death.

For two days after Poofy's death, I called into work and explained that I would be unable to come in because of a "death in the family." However, when my employer discovered that the deceased was not a human, everything at my workplace changed! I was given the worst assignments. Newcomers got the better duties. I was constantly yelled at even though I did my best wherever I was assigned. I was treated like a lazy good-for-nothing who had used a lame excuse to miss work. I was even officially reprimanded for my "misbehavior." Eventually I had to leave my job.

Abby, was I wrong to expect sympathy from my employer? -- STILL GRIEVING IN WEST VIRGINIA

DEAR STILL GRIEVING: No, you were not wrong to expect sympathy from your employer. However, you were wrong in not being up-front about exactly which family member had died when you requested time off. And you must also realize that the magnitude of your sorrow might not be understood by those who are not as devoted animal-lovers as you are.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 25-year-old graduate student who had the misfortune of being in an auto accident that left me unable to walk for three weeks. Enduring the pain was difficult, but I could not believe the attitude some people displayed toward me. Whenever I went to the market or department store, I had to rely on wheelchairs or motor carts provided by the store. I encountered people who cut in front of me or gave me dirty looks because I was taking up too much room in the aisle. Some customers even cut in front of me in the only handicap checkout lane in the store.

Lucky for me my injury caused only temporary inconvenience, but many people must deal with these sorts of hassles all their lives. May I ask shoppers, through your column, to be a little more considerate of those who must use wheelchairs or electric carts while shopping? -- GRATEFUL TO BE WALKING NOW

DEAR GRATEFUL: You certainly may. Consider your experience a crash course in empathy. Thank you for sharing the lesson so that all of us can be a bit more considerate in the future.

DEAR ABBY: How long should a couple be married prior to having an anniversary party and renewing their vows?

When my husband and I married a little over four years ago, we were moving out of state in two months and had little time to plan the wedding. It was a lovely event, but modest due to time and money constraints. We agreed that at some point we would renew our vows and have the anniversary party of our dreams.

At the time of our marriage, many family members and friends were not at all sure our marriage was a good idea. Their concerns were not without merit, and we understood. However, we are happily married, have started a beautiful family, and we'd really like to celebrate by hosting a party for family and friends. We don't want any gifts.

Abby, is five years too soon, or is it better to wait until we've been married 10 or 15 years to celebrate? -- HAPPY COUPLE IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR HAPPY COUPLE: Your fifth anniversary would be an ideal time to celebrate the success of your union. Go for it!

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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