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Thu, Sept. 19

Dear Annie: Time spent looking at their phones

Dear Annie: Is there such a thing as mobile phone etiquette? I know that I am a dinosaur, but is it OK for someone to be looking at his or her phone for the majority of the time he or she is in the company of someone socially? It feels so lonesome to me. All of my life’s conditioning taught me to pay attention to the one I’m with. Now I feel bewildered. — Bewildered

Dear Bewildered: The general answer to your question is no, it is not OK for people to be on their phones while in your presence. It is incredibly rude. Barring a few exceptions — doctors, nurses, new moms with baby sitters, and friends who tell you they are expecting a very important phone call and then apologize after they take it — being on or looking at one’s phone is way too common these days and completely inexcusable, and you are right to be offended. Next time you are out with a friend who engages in that type of behavior, ask the same question you asked me. If your friend says you are being a dinosaur and this is the way of the world, then I suggest you find a new person to spend your quality time with face-to-face.

Dear Annie: “How to Give Your Cat a Pill” is a classic, and certainly, for anyone (including me!) who is a cat guardian, it is good for a laugh. That is, until the last line, which involves dumping the cat at an animal shelter.

Times have changed, for the better, and it is beyond time to think about rewriting that last line. As a volunteer at an animal shelter for the past decade, I can think of many reasons that line made me very sad. Millions of cats ARE dumped at animal shelters for trivial reasons or reasons that are actually medical problems. Many of these cats are euthanized because their guardians did not take the time to understand the problem and help them.

These days, more and more people consider animals to be members of the family. You don’t dump a member of your family at an animal shelter. Instead, you take the time to figure out what the problem is and how to solve it. There are many organizations, in every community, that are committed to helping keep cats (and other companion animals) in their homes, where they belong.

Though I am sure that the closing line was meant to be humorous, being dumped at an animal shelter is deadly serious for millions of cats every year.

I hope that you will consider retracting that line and educating your millions of followers about how to help, not hurt, homeless animals in their communities. — Animal Supporter

Dear Animal Supporter: Animal homelessness is a serious problem. It’s a cause dear to my heart, one I’d never want to trivialize. Perhaps you’re right that the last line of that poem could use a rewrite.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to

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