Dear Abby: I am writing hoping to avert another tragedy like we experienced last week. Our German shepherd, Leah, was playing with a hard rubber ball the size of a tennis ball. Somehow, the ball slid down her throat. I tried to dislodge it by grabbing and pulling it out, then I tried the Heimlich maneuver. Neither worked. By the time we got Leah to the veterinarian, she was dead. They tried for 25 minutes to revive her. Leah was a friendly, funny, loving dog, not yet 2 years old. We miss her terribly.
Abby, please tell your readers to never, ever let their dog play with any object that fits into its mouth. If it fits, it can lodge in the throat. I don't want anyone else to experience the pain of losing their dog like we lost ours.
- Karen in Center Valley, Pa.

Dear Karen: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your beloved pet. However, because you wrote to other dog owners, take comfort in the knowledge that you have very likely saved another four-footed family member's life.

Mom's clothes don't fit

Dear Abby: My well-meaning mother continues to give me "classics" from her wardrobe that she no longer wears. I'm a size 6 to 8 in my 50s. Mom is in her 80s and wears 12 to 14. Our sense of style is also not the same.
My problem is, after insisting I take these items, she'll often ask for them back several years later. It becomes awkward when I must explain I gave her clothes away. How can I politely stop her from gifting me these items?
- No Longer Has Them

Dear No Longer Has Them: Say, "Mom, these things won't fit me. But I'll be glad to drop them off at a charity thrift shop for you." It's honest, it's practical, and someone can enjoy them.

Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.