I always appreciate your comments on my replies to reader questions; here's a sampling:
COMMENT: "You were amazed by a recent note from a 92-year-old emailer. Well, my friend, I have two senior citizen cats, who are siblings, and I live in my condo independently. I'm 93. I also volunteer at a local animal shelter. What's more, I'm emailing you from my iPhone." -- G.L., Miami Beach, FL
COMMENT: "I'm commenting on the letter from C.D. in Long Island, who wants to take two dogs to the in-laws' house, despite having been told that the mother-in-law doesn't like dogs. The person wrote, "How could anyone not love my precious dogs, who are so sweet?" I don't dislike dogs (or other animals), but by the same token, I don't want them in my house. Those dogs may be "precious" to their owner, but others don't have the emotional attachment to them.
Some dogs shed, jump on furniture and/or people, urinate on carpets, chew things they shouldn't, and bark annoyingly, especially if locked away in a guest bedroom, as you suggested. I'm sure C.D. thinks his/her precious dogs would never do any of that, but the in-laws have a right to not take the chance. Many dog owners are blind to their pets' shortcomings.
I think C.D. should honor the in-laws' wishes and arrange for the dogs to be cared for elsewhere. Please let readers know that not all of us are enthralled with pets and have a right to not have them in our homes. This doesn't make us wrong or mean-spirited." -- W., St. Paul, MN
S.D: Your comments are reasonable. Ultimately, the home belongs to the in-laws, and it is their decision.
I did offer the possibility of a compromise: keeping the dogs relegated to whatever room the owner would be sleeping in during the visit. However, I'd suggest this only for well-traveled dogs not likely to bark or be anxious in their owner's absence, even if they're only elsewhere in the home. Also, anytime you travel with dogs, it's important to spend time walking and playing with them. Dogs aren't travel accessories, like suitcases, but travel partners.
I have no idea how well behaved the dogs in question may be. As you suggest, it's possible the owner doesn't see these "precious" pets for what they really are. But what about the possibility that the dogs are truly well behaved? Unless the in-laws are seriously allergic, don't we all do things for people we love? Maybe the real issue has little to do with the dogs. Perhaps, the families really don't want to see one another and the dogs are being used as an excuse. Who knows?
COMMENT: "We read your reply in today's column regarding keeping turtles. We had a red-eared slider that was a wonderful pet. He lived to be 35. His shell completely covered my hand. I'd say he was a good seven inches long. Yes, these turtles used to be popular, but most people thought that they were doing well if their turtle lived two or three years. Please stress that keeping a turtle is a long-term responsibility." -- C.B., St. Paul, MN
S.D.: I agree that alternative pets, such as turtles, lizards and Guinea pigs, require appropriate care. Back during the red-eared slider craze in the 1950s and '60s, we didn't know much about their needs in captivity; today we do. While there's lots of information online, a book might be the best idea.
Unfortunately, people continue to make impulsive decisions when buying a pet. When that happens, the animal pays a price -- often with his or her life.
It's astounding that so many rabbits are still purchased on impulse for children, especially around Easter. The truth is, rabbits can be frightened by noisy, unpredictable toddlers, and they're often downright terrified when cuddled. Rabbits are popular pets and a great choice for people who understand what they're getting. However, they should never be an impulsive purchase.
With proper care, pet rabbits should live seven to 10 years. When parents make a purchase and then months' later give up on the pet, not only does the pet lose, but the lesson for children is that life is disposable. Learn more at www.makeminechocolate.org or www.rabbit.org.
COMMENT: "The cat that N.T. wrote about (in a recent column) sounds just like my daughter's Bombay cat -- a breed known for loving water, playing fetch, and developing very close bonds with their people. Her Bombay loves to play with water so much that his water bowl is now located in the bathtub to avoid a mess." -- L.E., St. Petersburg, FL
S.D.: You're right that some pedigreed cats, including the Bombay, Turkish Van and Bengal, seem fascinated by water. Maine Coon cats have been known to go for a swim. Some breeds just haven't read the book on what cats aren't supposed to like! Many cats enjoy playing fetch. And nearly all cats develop close bonds with their owners.
COMMENT: "Why didn't you advise the 60-year-old person who wants to get an African Grey Parrot to adopt an older bird? My husband and I are 60, and our African Grey, Peanut, is now 22. We got him at 14 weeks. We love him to bits. He speaks when he wants to, and he's nervous about many things. I fully plan to live to be 100, so I may outlive him! -- F.N., Las Vegas, NV
S.D.: I have very long-lived readers, so I don't doubt that you'll make 100. Adopting an older parrot is an excellent idea. No argument there!
(Steve Dale's NEW EBOOKS, "Good Dog!" and "Good Cat!", are available on all major eReader devices and platforms. The basic version of each book is $2.99. An enhanced version of "Good Dog!" with embedded videos is available at iTunes for $4.99. For details, check the "Good Dog!"Facebook page. Write to Steve at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207. Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is www.stevedalepetworld.com)