Dear Abby: Dog is still bone of contention years after couple breaks up

My ex-boyfriend and I broke up two years ago.

Dear Abby: My ex-boyfriend and I broke up two years ago. We were together for nearly three years. A year into our relationship, we rescued a puppy. We broke up when she was 2. Since then, we have shared her on and off. This arrangement worked fine because we have both been single.

I am now in a new relationship and feel that my ex and I should cut ties. We recently had a falling out, but he still wants to share the dog “until she is no longer in the picture.”

Abby, I don’t feel that it’s feasible for us to continue sharing our dog for the next 12 to 15 years. My ex has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and I know she helps him. However, I feel like I can provide a better home for her and give her more attention. How do we decide who gets to keep the dog?

Still In the Picture

Dear Still In the Picture: You have a new boyfriend. Your ex has PTSD and needs her more than you do. Unless the animal was somehow mistreated when she was with him, let him have her.

Dear Abby: I work as a medical receptionist for a busy private practice. We get a lot of patients from other countries, and English is not their primary language. Speaking to these patients over the phone is often very difficult. How can I ask nicely for patients to constantly repeat themselves? I need to make sure I have the correct information so the doctor can treat the patient properly.


In Maryland

Dear Receptionist: Ask your employer how he or she wants those calls handled. There is no crime in repeating and re-repeating important information to be sure it is right. If the patient has a family member who accompanies him/her to appointments, perhaps it can be arranged that that person call the doctor’s office to convey any necessary information.

Dear Abby: For my birthday my husband bought me an expensive designer purse. It was a dream come true to own this purse and I love it. My problem is it’s so expensive that I’m embarrassed to wear it around in public. I don’t want to look like a show-off. I don’t know why I care, and probably most people don’t care about what kind of purse I’m carrying. Why can’t I enjoy the gift from my husband?

Secret in the Closet

Dear Secret: Not everyone is comfortable displaying the fact they have the kind of disposable income that affords them the ability to buy luxury goods. There are multiple reasons for this. Some women don’t want the attention, others feel guilty that they have the money while their friends do not, some are afraid that if they “flash” it will excite jealousy, and others fear for their safety.

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.