Dear Abby:

Last summer I was attacked by my boss's dog at work, leaving a nasty scar on my nose. My boss, claiming to be a "healing expert," advised me to avoid a trip to the doctor (as they don't put stitches in one's nose, he said) and to instead let him apply "healing oils" to my face. He said the scar would be gone within a month. I naively heeded his advice.

During my remaining time at work, his wife (also my boss and the true owner of the dog) looked after me caringly, always wishing me well on my healing, swearing genuinely by her husband's talents as a healer.

Three months and nine days later, the scar is still there, and on a recent trip to the doctor he informed me that I should have gotten stitches. I now face expensive plastic surgery or dermatological work if I want to be rid of the scar.

I am debating whether I should take legal action. I'd feel guilty because the wife would be the brunt of any lawsuit when, I believe, she sincerely had faith in her husband, but I can't help but feel he cheated me. What should I do?

Downtrodden and Dog-Bitten

It should be as plain as the scar on your nose to your employers that the husband's "healing powers" failed in your case. Put them on notice that you will be getting a referral to a board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist to repair the damage to your face, and that you expect them or their insurance provider to pay the bill. If they give you an argument, consult a lawyer. Do not feel guilty. You are the victim. How the "healer" handles this letter will reveal whether he's truly a healer, or just a heel.

Dear Abby:

Two months before our wedding, my fiance, "Frank," and I called it off. We broke up completely for a while, hoping to resolve some problems before tying the knot. At the time, I had a maid of honor and five bridesmaids, all dearest, closest friends.

Since then we have all graduated, and now, a year after our original wedding date, Frank and I are engaged again.

A few of the girls who were supposed to be in the wedding party have drifted away, and as I plan my upcoming wedding, I'm wondering if I must re-invite every member of the original wedding party. I would prefer a smaller number of attendants, to make it a more special group. However, I'm afraid that if I do that, I'll irrevocably damage my friendship with some of these girls. I'd appreciate your advice.

Party-Pruning Bride in Ohio

As long as you explain to your girlfriends that you are scaling down the wedding in favor of something smaller and more simple, they should understand and not be offended. Some of them may even be relieved to be off the hook for the dresses, shoes and other expenses that go along with the "honor."

Dear Abby:

A close friend of mine is pregnant and has been told by her doctor that the baby has a serious genetic mutation that will most likely result in a stillbirth or death shortly after it is born. I would like to have a baby shower for her, but I am not sure if it is appropriate because of the unhappy circumstances. As you can imagine, my friend feels very sad about this situation. Please advise.

Caring Friend in California

In view of the fact that this child isn't going to make it -- barring a miracle -- there are better ways to show your support than to host a baby shower. You and her other friends should stay in close contact with the mother-to-be, and provide a willing ear and shoulder to cry on. She needs to know that you are there for her far more than gift-wrapped reminders of the baby she will lose.

Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate