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by Abigail Van Buren

Befriending Former Colleague May Cause Trouble at Work

DEAR ABBY: I live in a small city in the South, which means everyone knows everyone. A former co-worker, "Dina," moved across the street from me. We're friendly, but not too close. She and I taught at the same school.

While Dina doesn't always do things in a way I think is socially correct, she's a good soul who cares about her students. My principal likes me, which makes my work life much easier, but strongly dislikes Dina.

Abby, my principal has a "guilt by association" view of the world. I'm afraid to go out with Dina in case my boss should see me. While this may seem unsociable, I worry for my professional future. I don't want to jeopardize it for someone who may not be a longtime friend. Any advice? -- IN A CORNER IN GEORGIA

DEAR IN A CORNER: Your principal appears to be controlling, judgmental, someone who plays favorites, and generally a truly awful person. However, unless you're willing to stand up for yourself and the fact that you are entitled to a personal life, you will be looking over your shoulder until the day you retire. Live your life, and if your principal retaliates in any way, take the matter to the administrator who supervises your boss.

DEAR ABBY: "Leila" and I have been friends since high school. We've grown closer over the last few years.

The problem is her dog, "Prince." Her life is wrapped around that animal. Prince sleeps with her, eats off her plate and drinks from her glass. He has a stroller.

When Leila brought him to the funeral home, it was the last straw. Prince "groomed" himself the whole time, and she had him sit near me. She has also asked me to "baby-sit" her dog at work while she runs errands. (Prince is not a guide dog or service dog.)

Leila frequently invites me to her home to eat, but I make excuses because, frankly, it isn't clean. Prince requires everyone's full attention and often vomits when I'm there. I don't invite Leila to my home because I know she'll bring the dog. I don't like animals on my furniture.

Now don't get me wrong. I like dogs. I have owned several in the past. But I cannot stand that one.

I'm running out of excuses not to visit her. If we go out, we have to cut things short because she has to get back to "him," and I end up being left to pay the check. I am single, with one income. Leila owns her own business, and her husband earns six figures. Help! -- FED UP WITH FIDO

DEAR FED UP: Your problem isn't the dog. It's Leila. She turned you into a baby sitter for her dog during business hours? I can see it happening once during an emergency -- but if you agreed to it after that, then you need to learn how to say no.

As to cutting your visits short because she has to get back to the dog, she could make other arrangements for him while she goes out with you. My advice is to ask her to repay her share of the meal tabs she has stuck you with. If this presumptuous woman disappears after that, your problem will be solved.

DEAR ABBY: Can you settle a family argument? Who "owns" the leftovers? The person who orders the food or the person who foots the bill? -- KATE IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR KATE: If an entree is ordered in a restaurant, whatever uneaten food remains on someone's plate would belong to that person. Ditto for a dessert that went with the meal.

P.S. If it has reached the point that your family is fighting over food scraps, you're all in more trouble than an advice columnist can fix.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)