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Dear Ann Landers: I would like to comment on your reply to "Former Animal Lover." Her husband was unable to cope with his dog's numerous medical problems, and this created a lot of trouble in their marriage. The dog was deaf, arthritic, missing all his teeth and urinating all over the house.

As a veterinarian, I was disappointed in your advice that the woman should "talk to the veterinarian and lean on him to do his duty." Please be aware, Miss Landers, that it is not my "duty" to pressure an owner to euthanize a beloved pet. My role is to give medical information and advice, and to support pet owners in what are often difficult decisions. It is possible that many of this dog's problems could be medically treated.

I agree with you that the veterinarian should be consulted immediately, and perhaps the husband will come to the conclusion that the most humane option is euthanasia. But I would never diagnose this case without first examining the pet and talking with the owner. I am surprised and disappointed that you think you can.

-- Catherine O'Keefe, DVM, St. Louis Park, Minn.
Dear DVM O'Keefe: Thanks for the clobber. I guess I had it coming. You will be pleased to know that I received several letters from your colleagues in Canada and the United States, saying, as you did, that I should have told the owner to consult a veterinarian instead of suggesting she "lean on" the vet to put the dog to sleep.

It occurred to me, however, that a dog that is deaf, arthritic, missing all his teeth and urinating all over the house is not enjoying life much and would appreciate it if someone put him out of his misery. If those problems could indeed be medically treated, the owner should have taken care of them immediately. Shame on him for letting the dog suffer needlessly.

Show compassion to elders

Dear Ann Landers: When I read the letter from "Family Matters in Florida" (she said we must always remember to help our aging parents), I knew I had to write my first letter to Ann Landers. While I agree in principle, I must ask -- how much do children have to put up with when elderly parents become impossible?

My grandmother has made my mother's life a living hell. Grandma has controlled Mom her entire life. She belittles her constantly, and pits my mother and her sisters against one another. We eat dinner with Grandma once a week, and she complains endlessly about everything and everybody. She phones my mother at least twice a day and is so nasty that Mom often ends up in tears.

My grandmother is in reasonably good health. She lives in a beautiful retirement home where they have movies, outings and special events, but she complains constantly that she is bored and lonely.

I feel sorry for my grandmother, but I can't say I love her. Please print my letter so elderly parents like my grandmother will stop wondering why their kids and grandchildren don't call or visit very often.

-- Had It in California
Dear California: Your criticism may be totally valid, but I still say grandchildren should overlook the orneriness and biting comments of the old folks and do whatever they can to make their lives more pleasant.

Age softens some people, and makes others mean and hard to get along with. Try to be more compassionate. One day, you could be hungry for a little compassion from YOUR grandchildren. I hope you get it, but life gives no guarantees.

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