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by Abigail Van Buren

Dog Left Home Alone Causes Concern for Worried Owners

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have a precious 2-year-old Boston terrier, "Bailey," who is our life. We consider him our child and are heartbroken any time we must leave him alone.

I am wondering if there is any way I could train Bailey to use a fire blanket in case of a fire if we're not there. Bailey loves to burrow into blankets, so it's not too much of a stretch. I couldn't bear the thought of our little one not being able to help himself if he was locked in during a fire. Any suggestions? -- BAILEY'S MOMMY IN TOM'S RIVER, N.J.

DEAR BAILEY'S MOMMY: I have two words for you: dog sitter! If there was a fire and you weren't there, Bailey could die of smoke inhalation. A dog sitter is insurance that even in case of fire someone is around to ensure his safety.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 29-year-old woman with one child. Having always wanted to adopt, I looked into international adoptions and foster care adoptions. I also became a foster care provider for two years. I have always wanted to expand my family, but adoption is expensive and foster care wasn't the right fit.

My younger sister, "Caitlin," married her abusive high school boyfriend and immediately became pregnant. She filed for divorce last year. Because he still controlled her, they reconnected and she's now pregnant with a second child. They are still divorcing, and this time she has no intention of reconciling.

I would desperately love to adopt this baby. When I approached Caitlin about it she said allowing me to adopt her child would make her feel "too guilty." How do I convey to her my great desire to adopt her child without making her feel like less than a parent? I wouldn't feel so strongly if I thought she actually wanted this baby, but she acts like this pregnancy is a burden. -- MATERNAL IN TULSA

DEAR MATERNAL: Your sister is experiencing a difficult pregnancy for many reasons, so please do not pressure her. I'm sure she already knows how much you want a baby -- so be supportive and let her know you are there for her. Period.

DEAR ABBY: My supervisor "Valerie" is smart and beautiful. However she is a few pounds overweight. The problem is she thinks she can still squeeze into a size 8. You can tell she's interested in looking professional and stylish by the clothes she picks out, but she still looks terrible. She is obviously in denial about her appearance, and her co-workers and underlings talk about her behind her back.

Because Valerie is my supervisor, I do not feel comfortable telling her how unprofessional she really looks. I am surprised that none of her friends has told her (tactfully), or that her supervisor hasn't told her how unprofessional it is that we all can see the outline of her underwear.

The shame of it is that it's hard to take Valerie seriously in her professional capacity when all one can think about is her clothes don't fit. How does one approach such a subject with someone who isn't really a friend? -- GROSSED OUT AT WORK

DEAR GROSSED OUT: If one is a subordinate, one doesn't. Poor Valerie may be in denial about her weight gain, or she may be having trouble shedding the pounds. Someone who could have a word with her about it would be her supervisor -- who might be inclined to do so if word reached her/him that Valerie's attire was not only distracting, but has become a main topic of conversation in the office.

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