DEAR ABBY: "Ben" and I have been married for two years. His dog, "Lucky," adores him. The problem is, Lucky bites me every time I get near Ben, especially when we are trying to get intimate. If we lock Lucky out of the room, he barks frantically the whole time. So much for romance.
Ben refuses to get rid of Lucky. He has told me that if the dog goes, he goes -- and he means it. I want a normal life with my husband, but he has chosen his dog over his wife. Can you offer any solution? -- ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY IN OHIO
DEAR ONCE BITTEN: I'll try. Your husband is an irresponsible pet owner. He has allowed Lucky to become "top dog" in your household by permitting the animal to control HIM rather than vice versa.
Tell him that if he wants to "get lucky," he is going to have to assume control of his dog. This will take the assistance of a qualified dog trainer or other animal behavior specialist and should be done immediately because "once bitten" is once too often.
DEAR ABBY: I'm 16, and my 13-year-old stepsister, "Cindy," is mentally retarded. She stays here every other weekend, and it's embarrassing when I have friends over. We don't have an extra room, so my mom and stepfather make me share a room with her.
Cindy is obsessed with me. She won't leave me alone the whole weekend and follows me around asking stupid questions. She also stares at my body when I get undressed, which makes me uncomfortable. I'm not modest and undress in front of other girls, but I don't like being stared at. She also can't keep her hands off my stuff.
I have been spending the night at a friend's as often as I can to get away from her. But now my mother and stepfather say I can go on sleepovers only on weekends Cindy is not here. They say she misses me and seems hurt that I'm not here to be with her. They say Cindy cried last weekend because she thinks I don't love her.
Well, duh! I've never even LIKED her. She is supposed to be here spending "quality time" with her father, not me, so shouldn't I be able to get away rather than have her drive me crazy the whole time? -- FED UP IN LANCASTER, PA.
DEAR FED UP: You are obviously very angry, but you're aiming it in the wrong direction. None of this is your stepsister's fault. Cindy is a little girl mentally, and she idolizes you. She may be slow, but she isn't stupid. She recognizes rejection when she sees it.
I recommend a compromise. You should not have to entertain your stepsister every single time she visits. While it would be caring and compassionate to spend time with her, you should not be forced into it. Keeping her occupied should be your parents' responsibility.
An adult should advocate for you in this matter. If my reply is sufficient, show it to your mother and stepfather. If it isn't, then enlist the help of another adult to talk to them with you.
DEAR ABBY: Singing is my one true passion. However, whenever I sing, my friends make fun of me. One of my friends did compliment me, but I'm not sure I completely believe her. My choir director says I have a beautiful voice, but how can I tell if she's just being nice? -- UNSURE IN SPRINGFIELD, MO.
DEAR UNSURE: Ask her if you can sing a solo.
To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (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