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DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Richard," and I are a mature couple who have been seeing each other for three years. I love him. My dog is the issue.
"Princess" is a 2-year-old rat terrier/mini-pinscher mix. She weighs 9 pounds and is spoiled. (I admit I'm a softy when it comes to discipline.) She barks at anyone and anything she sees. Her barks are shrill and can be annoying. But I live alone and feel she is protecting me.
Richard can no longer tolerate Princess' barking and has curbed his visits considerably. Except for this issue, he is my dream guy, and I feel lucky to have found him. I was married for more than 20 years to a controlling man, and I had to defer or compromise on everything. I will not compromise on this. I feel Richard should understand my attachment to Princess, especially when he's not around.
I miss him. Our dates are now only occasional. He thinks I prefer the dog over him, and that's not the case. Am I being selfish? Why can't I have them both? Is there a future for us, or have we reached an impasse?
- Won't give up the pup, Lafayette, La.
DEAR WON'T GIVE UP: Loving one's dog is not being selfish. You COULD have them both if you would contact a dog trainer and start giving Princess a doggy education that includes boundaries. Incessant barking should not be allowed.
Perhaps once Richard sees that Princess no longer regards him as a hostile intruder, he will feel more welcome. But that could take some work on the part of all three of you, if he's still willing.
DEAR ABBY: My grandpa remarried when I was a child. He and Grandma "Ella" each have five children. She is a wonderful woman.
When the holidays roll around, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, my grandparents always host at their home. They spend all day fixing up the house and preparing the food. When it's time to eat, Grandma Ella's children think they should be first in the line. If someone else tries (some of us on my grandfather's side of the family have small children), they grumble and complain.
When the dinner is over, it's always my mom, one of my two aunts and me doing the dishes and cleaning up. Grandma Ella's family never help. They just stroll back into the living room and watch TV or leave to go somewhere else. It would be nice to get some help once in a while so Mom, my aunts and I could also relax after the meal. Just leaving the mess is not an option. We tried it once, and Grandma and Grandpa ended up doing it. Any advice?
- Stressed in advance in Iowa
DEAR STRESSED: Gladly! This Thanksgiving when everyone arrives, Grandma and Grandpa should cheerfully inform the happy revelers that small children will be fed first, regardless of whose side of the family they come from. At the same time, each of the adults should be ASSIGNED a cleanup chore so one side of the family isn't stuck with the entire burden. Unless your grandparents assert themselves, nothing will change, so please suggest this to them in advance.
DEAR ABBY: When a man is married, who is supposed to come first in his life - his wife or his mother?
- Tired of being second string
DEAR TIRED: At the risk of sounding preachy, the Scripture says a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife. As much as a man may love his mother, in order to have a strong and healthy marriage, his wife should come first if he must make a choice.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.