Dear Annie: Through circumstances beyond our control, my husband and I recently found ourselves homeless for about a month, and we slept in our car. We had two dogs.
A friend took one, but no one wanted “Rex.” Temporary boarding was not economically feasible. Keeping him in the car proved impossible. All the animal rescues and humane societies in our area were full, and they turned us down. Someone reported the situation to the authorities, and we had no choice but to take Rex to the animal shelter.
Three days later, my family members, who didn’t offer us so much as floor space during this time, heard about Rex. They never once considered taking him.
When my brother and his wife found out we put Rex in the pound, they sent a newsletter to all the relatives discussing our “abuse” of the dog. They said I was hated, immoral and inhumane and should be ousted from the family.
Most family members thought the newsletter was uncompassionate. But my brother stands by his opinion, and I’ve received nasty phone messages from him on my voicemail.
My elderly parents saw the letter, and my brother received a tearful call from them.
This made him even angrier. We have never been close, but to publicly announce such hatred toward family going through hard times is beyond my comprehension.
We are now settled in our new home and doing well. We discovered that Rex had been adopted by a loving family, and I passed the happy word.
But the message I received from my brother was, “Rex is happier without you. You are an abuser.”
I feel I am grieving the loss of my brother. How can someone you love kick you at your lowest? — Heartbroken Outcast
Dear Heartbroken: Some people are incapable of feeling compassion for other humans and overcompensate by focusing on animals. But the fact that your brother wouldn’t take Rex himself indicates he was simply looking for an excuse to berate you.
He probably has issues going back to childhood. You cannot make him a more loving brother. Stop listening to his messages and concentrate on your new life.
Dear Annie: I work hard to keep my weight down. I eat healthful meals, most of them cooked at home by me, and I work out every day. There is no easy fix to weight problems, only a lifelong habit of healthy living.
I am the caregiver for my 89-year-old mother. We spend a lot of time in various doctors’ offices and hospitals. I am appalled at the weight problems in the nursing profession.
It is bad advertising to walk into a cardiologist’s office and be helped by a nurse who weighs more than 300 pounds.
Doctors are in the business of keeping people healthy, and their nurses should be models of good health. — Gone to the Gym
Dear Gone: Overweight people need jobs, too, and perhaps working in a doctor’s office will encourage someone to become healthier. For all you know, this nurse used to weigh 500 pounds. We agree it is not good “advertising,” but you are there for the doctor’s expertise. Please let them handle their staff.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Discriminated Against,” who thought she was asked inappropriate questions at a job interview. I felt sorry for her difficult situation.
When I was a graduate student, I was taught that if you are asked an illegal question, you should gently respond, “Will my answer make a difference to the hiring process?” It is less standoffish than, “You’re not allowed to ask me that,” and it gives the interviewer a chance to save face. Luckily, I never had to use these techniques, but was grateful to be prepared. — Happy Prof in Canada
Dear Happy: Thanks for a great suggestion. We hope our readers will tuck it away for when they might need it.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.