DEAR ABBY: I met my husband, "Monty," shortly after he lost his wife of 14 years. Monty has two dogs, but the one I have issues with is "Ginger."
I have never seen a dog act like her. Ginger acts more like a wife than a dog. She clings to Monty to the point he doesn't have any time alone. She'll sit outside the shower until he is done. If he takes a bath, Ginger sits on the edge of the tub. She runs to him when he gets home from work to greet him before I do. As she's running ahead of me, she looks back as if she's worried I'll beat her to him.
It's as if she thinks she's his wife! She sits next to Monty on the couch when we're watching television. I hesitate telling her to move so I can sit next to my husband because he treats his dogs like gold. His excuse? "They were here for me when my wife died." I'm sympathetic to that, but where do I fit in?
Ginger bullies the other dog by growling at her and bumping into her when the other one tries to get Monty's attention. I'm feeling jealous because sometimes my husband neglects my physical needs and is more affectionate with the dogs. What do I do? -- JEALOUS OF THE FOUR-LEGGED MISTRESS
DEAR JEALOUS: When Monty's first wife died, Ginger became the alpha female in the house. Your husband was depressed and lonely, and he allowed or encouraged it. It is now up to him to retrain Ginger so she learns to defer to you because your place is beside your husband -- and not just on the couch.
If you haven't told Monty that you need a higher rank in the pack, do it now. And if he isn't willing to make some changes, including taking care of more of your physical needs, insist the two of you talk to a licensed marriage counselor. (And maybe to the Dog Whisperer.)
DEAR ABBY: I'm a college student who has been looking up friends from my past, ranging from elementary to high school. One of my close friends from elementary school was a boy named "Martin." We were close because we were sort of the outcasts of our class.
I recently contacted a friend who knew Martin. He told me that Martin had become addicted to hard drugs and is now in jail. I have not been able to stop crying over this. Martin was the one who made me happy about school -- a kindred spirit.
I blame myself because I moved over the summer break and never got a chance to say goodbye to Martin. When I visited the school again, Martin came up to me, gave me a hug and demanded to know why I left him! We had been there for each other when others had not.
I know I can't change the past, but I feel if I had been there I could have stopped him from getting into the trouble he did. I can't think about our good times without being sad about his grim future. How can I get over this? -- CRYING FOR A FRIEND IN LOUISVILLE, KY.
DEAR CRYING: Please stop blaming yourself for the path that your childhood friend chose. People do not become drug addicts because a friend from elementary school moved away. Whatever led to his substance abuse, it wasn't you. Because this has hit you so hard emotionally, make an appointment to visit your student health center and talk to a counselor about your feelings of guilt.
While what Martin has done to himself is tragic, it's still not too late for him to kick his habit and straighten out his life. This has nothing to do with you, and you should not make it your problem.
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