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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Cuts All Ties to Family After the Death of His Dog

DEAR ABBY: Five years ago, my older brother had an accident and needed to live at my parents' house while he recovered. He brought along his 4-year-old dog, "Pepper." The dog needed to be on a special diet.

My father, who is a major alcoholic, enjoyed having Pepper there, but because he is an alcoholic, you can't tell him anything he doesn't want to hear. Because my brother had been seriously hurt and was in a hospital bed and wheelchair, my father fed the dog. Despite my brother's pleas, my father fed Pepper whatever he wanted -- including chocolate. It made Pepper very sick, and he was dead within three months. The vet said it was because of what my father fed him.

My brother blew up at my father. He called him every name in the book, concluding with the comment that my father was a filthy drunk who deserved to die in the gutter. Despite his injuries, my brother left the house and has never spoken to us again. Regrettably, my mother and I were both dependent on my father and didn't want to anger him, so we took his side.

A month ago, I decided to track my brother down. He is now married and lives out of the country with his wife, daughter and in-laws. My brother told me he's sorry for not staying in touch with me, but he no longer wishes to speak to our parents. My mother is pressing me for information, but I am afraid to tell her and my father much of anything. Should I tell my parents about my brother? -- ABANDONED SISTER

DEAR SISTER: I'm guessing your parents wouldn't be pressing you for information if you hadn't revealed to them that you found your brother. If that's the case, that was a mistake. If you must reveal anything, tell them your brother is well and happy, but hasn't changed his feelings about them and still wants no contact.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Death | Addiction