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by Abigail Van Buren

Family Dog Plays Favorites With Hand That Feeds Him

DEAR ABBY: My family has had our dog "Pouncer" for 10 years. He was originally bought to be a "family" dog, but I am the one who feeds and takes care of him. Because of that he sleeps with me and licks and obeys only me.

When I say Pouncer is my dog, the rest of my family chews me out and insists he is the family's dog, not mine. Don't you think I have the right to call him my dog? -- WILLIE IN WEST VIRGINIA

DEAR WILLIE: I think this is less a question about ownership than it is about tact. Because you are the one who feeds and takes care of Pouncer, and he sleeps with you and obeys only you -- in that sense, he is your dog. But unless you are the only one paying for his food and veterinary bills and the roof over his head, Pouncer is also the family's dog. Remember that and you'll get chewed out less often.

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