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by Abigail Van Buren

In my neighborhood, we've had a problem with one neighbor's dog barking all night. Several of us tried to ask the owner to please do something about it. Our pleas fell on deaf ears.

We tolerated it until recently. After hearing "Jingle Bells" by the Barking Dogs, four of us neighbors had an idea.

During our weekly card game, I made the comment, "If I had an outside sound system, I'd play the Barking Dogs' 'Jingle Bells' each night when the dog barks." I was making a joke, but my card buddies took me up on it. "Rick" has outdoor speakers, "Barney" has an old PA system, "Art" volunteered to set it up, and I was to get the record or tape of "Jingle Bells."

Three days later, everything was set up and ready. When the dog started its barking around 1 a.m., I reached over, turned on the PA system and played "Jingle Bells." The dog shut up! Two hours later, the barking resumed. Again I turned on the PA system. I know my neighbors were rolling over laughing as much as I was.

The next day, I took my daily jog around the neighborhood. The dog owner was outside and I stopped to say hello. He asked me if I had heard the dogs barking "Jingle Bells." I told him, yes, and I was happy to hear them do it in harmony. Then I added, "I wonder if they'll keep it up during the year -- say, New Year's and Easter." He said, "I hope not!"

Needless to say, it took only two more nights before he got the message. Yesterday, when I stopped by his place, he told me he had found a better home for his dog, with a loving child to play with.

Our poker game has the record of the Barking Dogs framed on the wall to remind us of the miracles of Christmas. Woof, woof -- and a Merry Christmas to you and yours. -- SANTA'S HELPERS IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR SANTA'S HELPERS: Ho! Ho! Ho! I particularly like the fact that there is a happy ending for all concerned, including the dog -- and I'll bet your letter stimulates record sales.

P.S. Now that the neighborhood is quiet again, why not send the former dog owner a CD of "Silent Night"?

DEAR ABBY: My wife, "Claudine," and I have been married for 25 years, and two of our four children still live at home with us. In the past, Claudine has complained to me that I am not very romantic. She said that romance needs to start way before we close the bedroom door. In the last year, she has stopped saying anything about this to me, but our love life has been affected.

I hold Claudine's hand when we go places and I always kiss her before I leave for work. What more can I do to get her interested in me again? -- WANTS MORE IN SANTA ANA, CALIF.

DEAR WANTS: There is more to romance than holding a woman's hand when you go places and kissing her when you leave for work.

Try this: Compliment her on her appearance. Thank her when she does something special for you. Call her just to say "I love you." Take her to a hotel or motel for the weekend so you can be alone. Buy her a little gift or send flowers "because she's the most beautiful woman in the world." And if that doesn't do it -- have her hormones checked.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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