Make holidays happy for pets by keeping them safe, healthy

DEAR ABBY: Holidays can be stressful and even dangerous for pets. Here are some things pet owners can do to make them less so for their four-legged companions:

1. Feed, walk or play with them before the party, then take them to a quiet room with water and a nice treat. With a cat, make sure they have their litter box as well.

2. If you’re traveling, make sure your pet is properly restrained in your car with a seat belt harness or a secured carry crate. If you can’t take your pet along, board your pet or use a reliable pet sitter.

3. Remember that “people food” usually isn’t safe for Fido or Fluffy. Chocolate, alcohol, eggnog (dairy) and other items can be toxic to your pet. DO have appropriate treats on hand.

4. Don’t leave dogs outside, especially if it gets cold. Bring them inside.

5. If you have cats that go outside, consider bringing them in or providing a nice, warm box for them to curl up in at night.

6. Christmas trees are pure temptation for your cat, with dangling items to play with and an opportunity to climb. Be sure your tree is securely anchored. Consider leaving the tinsel off your tree, and placing your ornaments where the cats cannot knock them off.

7. Electrical cords look like things to chew and can shock your pet. Cover them with special cord covers or use chew-deterrent sprays.

8. Christmas wrapping paper, ribbon and other items can choke your pet. So dispose of waste from opening presents right away.

I hope these tips will help everyone have a safe and great holiday season. — ANIMAL LOVER IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR ANIMAL LOVER: And I hope my readers will take to heart what you have written because your suggestions are important. Thank you for your letter.

DEAR ABBY: My uncle who has Alzheimer’s has declined rapidly. Prior to his decline, I bought 30 greeting cards every month and made sure to mail one to him each day. I live in Florida, and he lives in Kentucky.

I received much satisfaction and joy with every post I sent. My mother would open the cards and tape them to the outside of the door of his room. His neighbors would pause and read them as they passed by, and he used the montage of seasonal greetings as a way to recognize his door.

My uncle is no longer cognizant or coherent, and my mother has told me to stop sending the cards. Abby, I NEED this activity in my life. How can I find another person who would welcome a greeting card? I am semi-paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. I have no interest in meeting, visiting or even talking to the recipient; I just want to send greeting cards. Suggestions? — LOVES SENDING SMILES

DEAR LOVES: It’s time to find another outlet for your caring and compassion. Contact the eldercare facilities in your community, speak to the directors and ask if one (or more) of the residents might enjoy receiving your seasonal greetings. I’m betting the answer will be yes.


DEAR ABBY: Our 23-year-old daughter, “Alexa,” has a wonderful, well-paying corporate job with good benefits and a flexible schedule. She has low expenses, no debt and banks a respectable amount of her pay even though she lives 1,500 miles from home in a high-priced area. She works 40 hours max and has plenty of free time.

The issue? Alexa wants to quit her job and join the Peace Corps! Must we just say OK to chucking it all and moving to a Third World country?

Honestly, our biggest concern after her safety is her investing two years, moving back home and us having to support her while she looks for a post-Peace Corps job. My wife and I need to save for our own retirement, not spend it on our kids. I’m trying to convince Alexa to use her free time to volunteer (something she does not now do). What advice do you have? — BAD IDEA

DEAR BAD IDEA: Talk to Alexa about your concerns for her future after she leaves the Peace Corps. Ask if she plans to use the money she’s been putting away as a cushion after her return in the event she’s unable to find a job right away. Then explain that you are asking because you need to build up your retirement monies and won’t be able to give her further financial support. It’s the truth, and she needs to know it before she quits her job.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married for 20 years. I’m retired, but she still works 13-hour days in the ICU.

When she told me before we were married that she didn’t clean house, I didn’t realize she meant EVER! I run the dishwasher, I wash and dry clothes, and I pick up my stuff. When I cleaned the kitchen and put all the bills she had scattered around in one stack, I was told, “Now I can’t find anything! I have my own system, and you messed it up!”

She has promised that “when she has time” she’ll clean house, but several times when she had a few days off, she spent them playing Candy Crush on her tablet. I have never told her she must clean; I say WE need to do it. She ignores me.

Abby, we both have allergies and asthma issues, and the bugs are starting to get bad even though we don’t leave old food out. What can I do? Hope she forgives me after I clean? — IN A MESS IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR IN A MESS: No. The responsibility for ensuring your home is healthy and habitable should not rest solely on your shoulders. I DO think you should hire a house cleaner to come in once a week. Your wife has a stressful job, and when she’s off she may need to rest. Because you are retired and she’s still working, it shouldn’t break the bank, so discuss this option with her.

DEAR ABBY: I am a junior in high school, and there’s a cute guy on my cross country team I really like. What’s the best way to find out if he returns my feelings, and how can I deal with it if he doesn’t? — TEEN IN MONTANA

DEAR TEEN: A way to find out if a guy likes you is to start talking to him about your sport or other school-related subjects. If you do, you will soon see if you have anything else in common. If he’s interested in talking to you, that’s a good sign. But if he isn’t, you’ll have to do what everyone else does: Accept the disappointment and move on.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.