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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: We recently lost our dog, a 13-year-old springer spaniel, to old age. His passing has left a huge hole in our hearts and lives. We miss his companionship, his personality and the structure that caring for him brought to our lives. We're 51 and 60, own our home and are financially secure.

Some of our friends are discouraging us from adopting another dog. They say we travel too much. Last year we spent 12 weeks away from home. When we travel, we hire a trusted pet sitter to move into the house and attend to all our dog's needs. Our pet always seemed happy and healthy when we returned.

I anticipate that we will continue to travel a similar amount in the future, but I'm not sure we will enjoy coming home to a house that has no dog to welcome us back. Abby, should a retired couple who travels adopt a dog? -- PET LOVER IN MEXICO

DEAR PET LOVER: At ages 51 and 60, if you and your husband are in good health, I see no reason why you shouldn't adopt another dog if you wish. Consider adopting one that is no longer a puppy. Shelters and rescue organizations are good places to adopt an older dog that needs a loving home.

Read more in: Death

Blare of Car's Horn Is Rude Awakening for Neighbors

DEAR ABBY: My neighbor complains of cars honking at 8 in the morning. I have done this only three times when I have taken my son to school. I wait in the car for him, but if he's late by a couple of minutes, I'll honk.

The neighbors think it's rude because they have a 3-year-old who's asleep at that time. Do I confront them? What do you suggest? -- ON A SCHEDULE IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR ON A SCHEDULE: Knowing it will awaken your neighbor's child, refrain from honking the horn. If you need your son to hurry up, use your cellphone and call the house. Or, turn your engine off, lock the car and go inside and get him.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors

DEAR ABBY: My friend of 25 years, "Violet," moved back to town a few months ago after living far away for the last 10 years. Whereas we've always called and confided in each other often, now that she's here, I rarely see her, never talk with her and receive polite but curt refusals to do anything together.

I know the move was stressful for her, and I suspect the problem is more about her than me. But I am really hurt, and I miss her. My last request to get together and talk was met with, "I'm only doing what I feel I can enjoy and manage." It seems like that doesn't include our friendship.

Should I simply leave my old friend alone, or is there something you can suggest? -- JUST PLAIN SAD

DEAR SAD: Write Violet a short, sweet note. Tell her that you care about her, have always treasured her friendship and hope it will continue. Let her know that when she feels like talking, you will be there for her. It's really all you can do at this point.

After that, the ball will be in her court and you should NOT sit by the phone waiting for a call. Go on with your life and your other friendships as before. If she responds, terrific. If not, it will be her loss. Do not make it yours.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.