Dear Abby: The results are in and everyone's a winner! During the North Shore Animal League's fourth annual Pet Adoptathon, nearly 21,000 dogs, cats, puppies and kittens were placed into loving, permanent homes. That means thousands of once-orphaned animals have received a new gift of life - and thousands of caring adopters will forever know the joy and companionship that a pet can bring.

Abby, we couldn't have done it without you. The letter you printed in your column on April 28 from league president John Stevenson inspired thousands of animal lovers to call the Pet Adopt-a-thon hotline for the name of their nearest shelter. Extra volunteers had to be called in because the phones never stopped ringing! It goes without saying that untold numbers of those callers visited their nearest shelter and found a friend for life.On behalf of everyone - people and pets - I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

- Marge Stein, North

Shore Animal League

Dear Marge: What gratifying news! You and everyone else who participated in Pet Adoptathon are the ones to be congratulated. Of course, the big winners are the individuals who have provided homes for homeless creatures, for they will be repaid many times over with unconditional love.

Dear Abby: Just a quick note of support for "Mom in Denver."

I, too, had a less-than-perfect childhood. I didn't realize it until I had my own two wonderful children. That's when I encountered confusion, anger and depression beyond belief. I wanted to be a better parent than I'd had, but I didn't know how.

Miraculously, a flier landed on our doorstep. It was a free offer to an "early childhood development" class in my neighborhood. School districts offer similar classes in most states.

Ten years ago, I walked into my first class and felt like I had been given a gift. As you stated in your response to "Mom in Denver," I had "an instinctive desire" that guided me, but I wanted better parenting skills. As a childhood development educator started to gather us around and sing, "You are special," I felt tears and knew I'd found the parenting help I was searching for.

I often tell my husband that I can't imagine what our family would be like today if I hadn't stumbled across those parenting classes. Abby, please pass the word to other parents. Families of all ages, incomes, marital status, races and religions are represented. I've been involved with three different school districts in Minnesota, and they've all been terrific.

- Another Mom in the

Making, Minneapolis

Dear Mom: Most communities offer parenting classes and/or family support programs, and they can be a lifesaver for new parents, parents facing difficulties with some aspect of child rearing, or those who simply want to learn to be the best parents they can. I recommend them.

Classes can be found through local school districts, colleges and universities, churches and other religious agencies, youth and recreation organizations, health services and hospitals, libraries, parenting periodicals and social service agencies. Your community is your best resource.

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

Universal Press Syndicate

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On Line

All of the Dear Abby columns for the past several years are available online. Search for "DEAR ABBY" in the Lifestyle section and the Deseret News archives.