Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Neighbors' Neglected Dog Is Causing a Big Stink

DEAR ABBY: We recently bought a new home and have discovered that our elderly neighbors are caring for their grandson's dog. The dog lives in a 3-by-6-foot area right next to our patio. The poor animal receives little attention and is rarely cleaned up after. As a consequence, our patio reeks of dog feces, and we are overwhelmed by flies.

I feel bad for the couple, and I resent the grandson for allowing his dog to be neglected and for failing to have any consideration for the stench that makes our patio off-limits to us. How can I politely ask my new neighbors to clean up after their dog so we can enjoy our new home without offending them or creating a bad neighbor situation? -- "SHOO FLY" IN BAKERSFIELD, CALIF.

DEAR SHOO FLY: If your neighbors are unable to properly care for their grandson's dog, they shouldn't have it. A dog is a responsibility -- the animal needs feeding, exercise, social contact and to be cleaned up after. To shirk that responsibility is cruel.

It would not be offensive to inform these neighbors that the odor and flies from their dog run are so overwhelming that they prevent you from enjoying your patio. Speak up, or they'll think you haven't noticed. If this continues, call animal control or a pet rescue group.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors

Threats of Suicide Keep Couple in Hostage Relationship

DEAR ABBY: I have been in a rocky relationship for 10 months, and I'm not sure how you get out. I have tried multiple times to leave, but every time I tell her, she begs me not to, says horrible things and threatens to kill herself. She says she'll never be happy again, that I "always do this" and it hurts her so much. It makes me feel so bad I just give in and give her what she wants.

She doesn't trust me. I have to give her all of my passwords and she checks my phone daily. She has to know everything I'm doing, and if I don't tell her, look out! The next world war is going to happen. I have told her many times that if she can't trust me, there's no way we can be together because it will make a miserable life for both of us.

Her constant worrying whether I'm going to leave her is starting to get to me. I really can't take this anymore. I have considered some extreme things to get out because I'm so unhappy, and I know she is, too. I have tried everything. Please help me. -- STUCK IN A NIGHTMARE

DEAR STUCK: It is time you realize that you can't fix what's wrong with this woman. Her insecurities are a bottomless pit. You have described a hostage relationship, not a loving one.

So pack your things and get out of there NOW. If she threatens suicide and you know how to contact her family, alert them after you have gone. But do not pause, do not explain and do not look back. Your safety and your sanity depend upon it.

Read more in: Love & Dating | Mental Health

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)