Marc Morrone was born in 1960 in the Bronx and, when he was 2, his family moved to Show More
Q: What can we do about a 14-month-old golden retriever who bites and chews anything and everything -- from shoes to furniture to our outside deck? We keep her well supplied with chew toys and marrow bones, and she will also chew through most toys she has. She gets plenty of exercise and playtime with us.
She's in perfect health. We completed a training program and were assured that with time and techniques she'd stop. We can't leave her alone and it's very frustrating. If there's nothing around for her to chew, she'll settle for chewing one of us. She is the third golden we've had and we'd never had this happen. --Joanmarie Shults, Port Jefferson Station
The problem here is that you have a 14-month-old dog that has been allowed to pick and choose whatever she wants to play with and chew on. If there is a dog toy that you bought for her on the floor and a shoe that you bought for yourself on the floor next to the toy, then how is she supposed to tell the difference? To her they are just both things there for her amusement.
A: She cannot differentiate when you chastise her for chewing one thing and not the other. That being said, if you corrected her every time she chewed on the shoe then she would get the idea that this is not a thing that she can play with. Since she does not get corrected when she plays with a dog toy, then she will get the idea that this thing is OK to play with.
You never said if she was crated as a puppy, but the fact that she is chewing on everything in the house at this time indicates that she is not crated now. So this is what you must do for a while. When she is not being watched, she must stay in a crate with the some toys that she can chew on. That way, she gets in the habit of only chewing on those particular items when she is free to roam about and you are watching her and correcting her every time she chews on a household object.
Since she no longer has the opportunity to chew on non-toys, she no longer thinks of them as one of life's options. She sounds like a smart dog and it should only take a few weeks of this close confinement for her to get the idea.
Q: My African grey parrot is 12 years old, and I notice that for the last year he does not want me to pet him anymore. I got him when he was only 4 weeks old and we have been best friends all this time. I could cuddle him and kiss him and he always liked me better than other members of my family. However, now he will step up on my finger just fine and he will put his head down for me to scratch it but if I try to pet him he will back away. If I keep trying, then he will bite me hard. I talked to a "parrot behaviorist" who told me to try to desensitize him to allow me to pet him again by trying to pet him with a chopstick, but the bird just grabs it out of my hand and throws it across the room. Is there any way to make him love me again like he used to? --Michelle Thomson, Great Neck
A: Well, none of us can go back in time no matter how much we may want to, and all our relationships change as the years go on. First of all, he still loves you. The fact that he bows his head to you to be scratched proves that. (The back of a bird's head is the most vulnerable spot and he would not expose that part of himself to you unless he trusted you.) He just does not want your hands on his body and feathers.
When my kids were small they would happily walk hand in hand with me through the mall. Now that they are teenagers, I am only allowed to walk six feet behind them else they may not look cool. However, they still love me. The parrot is telling you politely that he no longer feels comfortable with your hand on his body, and when you push the issue he gets upset that you are not respecting his feelings. If you insist on trying to pet him, then I suggest that you stop trying at all for a few weeks. Just let him step on your finger and spend quality time with him on his own terms. Then, when everything is cool again, you can try to see if his behavior has changed. If not, then please do not take it personally as it is not a reflection of his feelings of friendship toward you.
Q: My children went to camp in the Catskills and came back with five little red salamanders that they found in the woods. We went to the pet store and were sold a little plastic tank to keep them in and some moss that we were told to keep wet. We also bought "Newt and Salamander Bites" to feed them, but they are not eating these pellets. Is there was anything else we could feed them? --Howard Kaplan, Lawrence
A: Those salamanders are actually the larval form of the Eastern Newt and they are called Red Eft. Adult Eastern Newts are olive green and totally aquatic. They live in ponds and lakes and never come out of the water and they will eat those pellets that you bought. For the first year of their lives, they are bright red and live in the forest under wet leaf litter where they eat termites and other tiny creatures. They will only eat live foods and, in captivity, they will eat wingless fruit flies and live blackworms or tubifex worms that are sometimes sold as food for aquarium fish.
However, in New York State, it is not legal (or, in my opinion, moral or ethical) to keep wild-caught native amphibians. That's because the habitat of these animals is shrinking yearly and they are not as common as they used to be. Many native amphibians in the state are now endangered due to interruptions of their life cycle.
So even if you could get the small live foods that these Red Efts need to eat, you would be doing them a better service and performing a life lesson for your children by making a day trip of returning them to the same area where the kids found them. Since they are not native to Long Island, turning them loose in a park near your house would not work and they would just die there.