Annie's Mailbox: My neighbors ignore their dog

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Dear Annie: About four years ago, a preacher and his family moved next door to us, and we have had it up to here with them. The latest episode involved a sweet little boxer puppy about 6 months old. The preacher's son-in-law wanted a puppy for Christmas, so they gave him "Fifi." She cried for two days in her new environment, then suddenly stopped and now never makes a sound.

I once saw the son-in-law whipping the dog because it wanted to play, pulling at his wife's blue jeans as she walked. That was one of only two times they've had Fifi out on a leash since Christmas. The rest of the time, she is kept outdoors in a large chain-link cage, 10 feet high. She gets no attention, just food and water. She stays in the enclosure 24 hours a day, even in extremely cold weather.

I am a dog lover and treat my animals with utmost care and kindness. It breaks my heart to see the little boxer pup sitting in the doorway of her house, longing for some love and attention. If all some people want is a pet to ignore, they should get a goldfish. Is there anything I can do?

- Angry and Sad

Dear Angry: If you believe Fifi is being mistreated, call your local Humane Society and report it. You can do so anonymously. The Humane Society will send someone to investigate, and if the situation merits intervention, they will handle it. Please don't simply watch and fume. You have an opportunity to protect this animal, and we hope you will do so.

Dear Annie: My parents own a restaurant. I am employed there, but am looking for a new job. Why? Because I feel like a slave.

I was hired as a server. But I have to go to work early to start off as a hostess, then hit the floor as a server, and finish off with bussing tables and closing out the till. I show up early when others call in sick and often stay late to make sure everything is done right. Yet my dad complains that I'm "milking them for all they're worth" because I expect to be paid. If I say anything about it to my mother, she brushes it off.

My parents expect me to become the manager someday, but I have told them repeatedly that I do not want the position. None of my co-workers respects me, and they assume I get away with stuff because I am the bosses' daughter.

I have worked 11-hour shifts when no one else will come in. I have worked eight days in a row to cover someone else's shift, but no one will cover mine. I take no vacations. My dad comes in twice a week to put in the food order and talk to the cooks. He treats my mother and me terribly, but the other employees are golden.

I feel overworked and unappreciated. I don't want to answer the phone when my parents call. I know they love me, but I'm tired of feeling like their doormat. How do I continue to handle this stress until I find a new job?

- Frustrated

Dear Frustrated: Your parents are grooming you to someday take over the restaurant and need you to understand that the boss has the responsibility to work harder than everyone else. If you do not intend to follow them into the business, you should inform them immediately, suggest they hire a real manager, insist on being paid and treated as a regular server, and spend more time looking for another job.

Dear Annie: If you can stand one more letter on siblings resembling each other, I want to comment on "Not Her Twin in Tennessee," who was offended when compared to her sister. I grew up in a large family, and comments on sibling resemblance happen often. When my brother is told he looks like his sister, he responds, "It depends where you look."

- Not Offended Out West

Dear Not: We love it. Thanks.

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