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

by Abigail Van Buren

Advice in Pet Health Care Guide Is the Cat's Meow

DEAR ABBY: Over the years, I have seen letters about dogs and cats needing emergency veterinary care. Preventable accidents are the No. 1 cause of death and disability for our canine and feline companions. Most of the time, pet owners say they were unaware that the plant their pet ate was poisonous, or they didn't recognize the early symptoms of their pet's illness. Being informed and prepared is the key to having healthy, happy, furry family members.

The American Animal Hospital Association estimates that one out of four pets could be saved if just ONE basic pet first-aid technique was applied prior to getting veterinary care.

I would like to offer your legion of pet-loving readers a pet preparedness guide titled "Knowing Your Pet's Health." It's a 20-page booklet that includes pet emergency preparedness advice, how to assess your pet's health, a health chart, a list of common plant and household pet poisons, a snout-to-tail assessment with worksheet, and suggestions for finding the best pet insurance.

Thank you, Abby, for your many years of providing helpful and accurate information to conscientious pet owners. -- THOM SOMES, PRESIDENT, PET TECH INC.

DEAR THOM: Because pet first-aid classes are not available everywhere, I'm sure your booklet will save the lives of companion animals that might not otherwise survive. I commend you for providing such a readable and easy-to-understand guide for pet owners.

Readers: To order a copy of "Knowing Your Pet's Health," send a check or money order for $3.50 to: Pet Preparedness Guide, c/o Pet Tech Inc., 5800 Severin Drive, La Mesa, Calif. 91942. The pet you save could be your own.

DEAR ABBY: For the past year, I have been seeing a 35-year-old widow and mother of three small children. About every five weeks and every holiday, her 24-year-old brother-in-law, "Mark," will call her and spend the night with her and the kids. If we have plans, they are canceled to accommodate Mark. Also, when Mark is visiting, I am told that it would be "inappropriate" for me to be there or call her.

After a year of this, I finally told my girlfriend I was uncomfortable with this arrangement, and if Mark wants to see her and the kids, that's fine -- but he should go home at night. My girlfriend became irate.

The next day at a family gathering, she asked, almost begged, Mark to stay the night with her and the kids. She did it three times in front of me. The last time was as Mark was leaving. She then turned to me and told me to leave. She said that Mark is family and welcome to stay with her any time. (I thought I was family, too.)

What do you think? If there is to be a future in this relationship, we need your opinion. -- THREE'S A CROWD IN WISCONSIN

DEAR THREE'S A CROWD: If the relationship with her brother-in-law was strictly platonic, she wouldn't insist that you be absent and not call when he is visiting. Wise up and move on. She has made her choice -- and you're not it.

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

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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