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

by Abigail Van Buren

Boss's Advice Proved to Be Worse Than His Dog's Bite

DEAR ABBY: Last summer I was attacked by my boss's dog at work, leaving a nasty scar on my nose. My boss, claiming to be a "healing expert," advised me to avoid a trip to the doctor (as they don't put stitches in one's nose, he said) and to instead let him apply "healing oils" to my face. He said the scar would be gone within a month. I naively heeded his advice.

During my remaining time at work, his wife (also my boss and the true owner of the dog) looked after me caringly, always wishing me well on my healing, swearing genuinely by her husband's talents as a healer.

Three months and nine days later, the scar is still there, and on a recent trip to the doctor he informed me that I should have gotten stitches. I now face expensive plastic surgery or dermatological work if I want to be rid of the scar.

I am debating whether I should take legal action. I'd feel guilty because the wife would be the brunt of any lawsuit when, I believe, she sincerely had faith in her husband, but I can't help but feel he cheated me. What should I do? -- DOWNTRODDEN AND DOG-BITTEN

DEAR D&D: It should be as plain as the scar on your nose to your employers that the husband's "healing powers" failed in your case. Put them on notice that you will be getting a referral to a board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist to repair the damage to your face, and that you expect them or their insurance provider to pay the bill. If they give you an argument, consult a lawyer. Do not feel guilty. You are the victim. How the "healer" handles this letter will reveal whether he's truly a healer, or just a heel.

DEAR ABBY: Two months before our wedding, my fiance, "Frank," and I called it off. We broke up completely for a while, hoping to resolve some problems before tying the knot. At the time, I had a maid of honor and five bridesmaids, all dearest, closest friends.

Since then we have all graduated, and now, a year after our original wedding date, Frank and I are engaged again.

A few of the girls who were supposed to be in the wedding party have drifted away, and as I plan my upcoming wedding, I'm wondering if I must re-invite every member of the original wedding party. I would prefer a smaller number of attendants, to make it a more special group. However, I'm afraid that if I do that, I'll irrevocably damage my friendship with some of these girls. I'd appreciate your advice. -- PARTY-PRUNING BRIDE IN OHIO

DEAR PARTY-PRUNER: As long as you explain to your girlfriends that you are scaling down the wedding in favor of something smaller and more simple, they should understand and not be offended. Some of them may even be relieved to be off the hook for the dresses, shoes and other expenses that go along with the "honor."

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter 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