Dear Dr. Wallace:

I’m responding to the 76-year-old grandmother who wrote that she always wanted a dog, but her husband never allowed it. Then, after her husband’s death, she went to a local animal shelter and brought home a little golden brown dog named Poochie. She said she loved Poochie very much and he kept her from becoming lonely.

I’m 73 and lost my husband of 53 years last year. I was really feeling lonely and terribly depressed, and then I decided that I, too, needed a Poochie to keep me company. A friend at my church was kind and drove me to our local animal shelter where I found a sweet female poodle mix to bring home.

Already we have become great friends. I know she is happy living with me because her tail is wagging constantly and if I had a dollar for every time she licked my hand, I’d be wealthy. We have become a great team. I need her and she needs me. If my newfound friend had been a male, I would have named him Poochie 2 in honor of Poochie 1, who inspired me to get a pet. But since my friend is female, I named her Poochetta. That’s to always remind me of Poochie 1.

I have been reading newspaper advice columns for over 55 years, but the letter from the 76-year-old grandmother and her newfound friend, Poochie, was tops. Maybe if her husband had allowed his wife to have a pet, he still might be around. I read somewhere that pets can help prolong the lives of their masters. I hope that’s true.

— Aggie,

Crown Point, Ind.

Dear Aggie: Your letter made my day! Thanks for sharing your story with our young readers. Poochetta is one fortunate pooch. And you are a happy and fortunate lady!

Dear Dr. Wallace: I’m 15 and have been dating Kenny for five months. Both of my parents like him and approve of our relationship.

About four months ago, my parents got a divorce and it was decided that I would live with my mom. A month ago, my mom married a guy who works with her. They had known each other for over five years. Jeff, my stepfather, is very strict. Already he has made some rules that I must obey. Some of them are reasonable, while others are not.

The rule that bothers me the most is one that says no dating until I’m 16. I don’t think this is fair. Why should I be forced to break up with my boyfriend (he’s 16) just because my mom decides to get a new husband?

When I asked my mom about the new rules, all she could say was that my stepfather was in charge now. Please give me your comments. I get above-average grades in school and I’ve never been in serious trouble. It will be eight months before I’m 16.

— Nameless,

Mobile, Ala.

Dear Nameless: Your new stepfather seems anxious to convey the message that he’s in charge now and thinks laying down strict, non-negotiable rules is the way to do so. I disagree. This is a time for all of you to get to know each other and make reasonable accommodations to one another.

Considering that you’ve already been going out with your boyfriend for five months, and both your mom and your dad approve of him, your stepfather’s new rule, indeed, seems unfair.

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