Q: Our family dog recently passed away after a year-long decline. I had grown up with him. He had reached the point where he needed daily care for his body, even though his mind was 100 percent there. Near the end, things got very bad. I got only about four hours of broken sleep a night caring for him, and no one in the family would help me. During part of his daily care routine, he had a second accident all over the freshly cleaned floor. I lost it and hit him.
He’s gone now, and I can barely live with myself. When I think about it, I get nauseated and dry-heave. I literally hate myself. In my book, exhaustion doesn’t give anyone the right to do what I did. I’m old enough to know better. This makes me want to change my life plans and never have another pet or have children, just in case. Am I right? — Lowlife in the USA
A: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your beloved furry friend. While what happened is regrettable, you are wrong to beat yourself up the way you are. There is something called “caregiver burnout,” which I’m advising you to research. When caregivers are stressed and sleep-deprived, mental health advisers urge them to find respite care for their patient. Lack of sleep can cause people to react badly.
If your family had been more supportive and you had had proper rest, you probably would not have snapped. What happened does not mean you are doomed to repeat this with another pet or a child.
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Q: I have a daughter-in-law I would like to get to know. “Karla” and my son have been married for four years. My dilemma is texting. Karla refuses to carry on conversations on the phone or in person. Everything has to be texted. When I have explained to her that I wanted to get to know her better and felt that texts were impersonal, she claimed that they are all she has time for between working and taking care of the children.
I don’t mind watching the children; I’d just like to know a day in advance unless it’s an emergency. Abby, she is rude, disrespectful and treats me like a servant rather than a family member. Am I wrong to expect non-emergency things to be scheduled in advance, or is it acceptable to text and say, “Hey, I need you to watch the kids. Be here at noon”? — Hurt Feelings
A: No, you’re not wrong. The next time you receive a text like the one you quoted, send one back that says, “Not available then — need more warning. Ask sooner next time.”
Q: I am blessed to be 70 years old and have few problems. Your column today got me wondering about something. You answered, “For Pete’s sake …” to a question. I just wondered, who is Pete? I have heard the expression all my life and am just curious. — Dale in the South
A: That’s a good question, because I didn’t know where the phrase came from either. “For Pete’s sake” is a mild oath. According to my online research, it’s a cleaned-up version of what was originally “For Christ’s sake.”
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.