DEAR ABBY: I am a volunteer and board member at the Mercer County Humane Society animal shelter in West Virginia.
Approximately 10,000 animals pass through our shelter each year, many of which do not find homes. We feed and love them, but there aren't enough good homes for all of them.
I feel sure that puppies and kittens are on many children's wish lists for Christmas. Pets can be man's best friends and wonderful companions, but I wish that people would realize how much care a pet actually requires. All the cats and dogs that end up at our shelter were once someone's sweet little kitten or puppy.
Enclosed is a column you wrote 10 years ago, titled "Doggy in the Window." Please give it another go. -- SARAH R. GIBSON, PRINCETON, W.VA.
DEAR MS. GIBSON: At the risk of winding up in the doghouse (some readers do not like reruns), I'll chance it:
DEAR ABBY: My name is Joshua and I am 7 years old. I want a dog, but my mother says no. I really want one bad. Abby, I will take any kind. I promise to take care of it. How can I get my mother to let me have a dog? -- WANTING A DOG
DEAR JOSHUA: Please answer these questions:
1. Who will prepare the dog's meals?
2. Will someone be home during the day to look after the dog?
3. If the dog is a puppy, someone will have to exercise it at least twice a day. Who will do it?
4. Who will pay for the dog's license, collar, shots, regular examinations at the vet's, and any emergency treatment the dog may need?
5. Who will pay the cost of spaying or neutering your pet to prevent the birth of more unwanted puppies in a nation that already has too many? Every day, thousands are "put to sleep."
6. Are you willing to obey all the laws concerning dogs, such as keeping yours on a leash, and seeing that it doesn't do its "business" where it shouldn't?
7. Are you willing to care for the dog as long as it lives?
Important lessons are learned from having a pet, but it takes time, money and a willingness to accept responsibility to be a dog owner. Can you handle it?