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DEAR ABBY: My young son and his wife split up nine months ago. "Paige" had a troubled past and unfortunate parenting. We took her in while they were dating -- Paige had just turned 18 -- and my husband and I finished parenting her.

Abby, Paige cheated on our son, began drinking and using drugs, and broke up another man's family. There were three children involved, and it was ugly. Our son was willing to go to marriage counseling -- Paige refused. Since then, she has lost a good job and begun stripping, leaving our son deeply in debt because of her spending.

My son has begun rebuilding his life. He got a couple of roommates so he could hold onto his little home, and I know he is better off without her. I, however, am having a hard time. I loved -- and love -- Paige like she was my own child. I miss her spirit and her goodness, which was misplaced because of the drugs and alcohol. My son wants absolutely nothing more to do with her, but what do I do about MY pain? She called us last month, and my husband just about hung up on her. I don't want to disrespect my son's wishes, but I'm torn. Is this normal? -- FUTURE EX-MOTHER-IN-LAW

DEAR FUTURE EX-M.I.L.: Considering that you welcomed Paige into your home and she became like a daughter to you, I'd say your feelings are normal. You are grieving for the child you "lost" and for the relationship that "might" have been.

Because your son has decided to go on with his life without this troubled young woman, my advice to you is to let him do that. You can't "save" your former daughter-in-law; only she can do that. In the meantime, get counseling if you need to, to help you through this difficult period. The pain will pass with time. Trust me on that.

DEAR ABBY: At several parties I have attended recently, other guests have felt it appropriate to bring their dogs with them. Occasionally they compare their dog with their child, saying that other people brought their "kids," so they did too. However, if someone's human child sniffed the crotches of, jumped up on, licked and shed on or wiped dirt on the clothing of other guests, they would obviously be unwelcome at the party.

I'm not alone in feeling this way -- often the hosts do, too. Whenever anyone has hinted at not being a dog lover, they have been instantly labeled an "animal hater," a crime likened by many to be equal to animal abuse.

I have seen this occur throughout the United States and in American communities abroad, in a wide variety of social circles and classes, so I'm writing to you in hopes that you will spread the word. When attending a party at a dog-free home, the other guests expect -- and deserve, in my humble opinion -- the party to be dog-free as well. -- MR. "C" AT A MILITARY BASE IN ITALY

DEAR MR. C: It is my "humble opinion" that no one should bring an animal to anyone's home unless permission has first been sought from, and granted by, the hosts. And an excellent way to keep from being jumped on, licked and "sniffed" by an animal is to sprinkle a dash of cayenne pepper on one's clothing.

For the record, I am an animal lover -- but it's far easier to love an animal that has been taught good manners than one that hasn't. (And the same goes for children.)

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