Marc Morrone was born in 1960 in the Bronx and, when he was 2, his family moved to
Q. Our boxer puppy is the kind of dog that bounces all over the place. He can play and run all day with my five sons. Now that he is 6 months old, the question of neutering comes up from our vet. We really do not want him to be any less active than he is now. Our yard is fenced, and it is not like he is going to be running around the neighborhood, fathering litters. Do we really have to get him neutered? --Lisa Silver, West Babylon
A. Neutering a dog or cat results in removing the hormone testosterone from the animal's system, and all that testosterone does in dogs and cats is create the desire to breed or mate.
Testosterone dramatically changes the appearance and behavior of some animals. For example, a neutered lion never will grow a mane and a neutered male deer will never grow antlers, but neutering male dogs and cats has very little impact on their appearance or behavior with humans.
Some unneutered male dogs have one-track minds and only think about breeding and the lack of being able to carry out what the testosterone in their bodies is telling them to do. This can cause some behavioral problems in their interactions with humans, so the neutering removes the testosterone and those behavioral problems go away. But it has nothing to do with any other aspect of the life of the dog.
Another advantage of neutering is that it removes the possibility of certain cancers and other health issues that may plague your dog later in life. So there is no reason not to neuter a dog. Neutering will only make the dog's life easier and yours, too.
Q. Our African gray parrot just died. She was a treasured pet in our home for the last 42 years. I have had her since I was 13.
Up until 10 years ago, she would lay three eggs every spring. When she was young, she loved my father more than anybody else. When my father passed away, she transferred her affection to my husband, but she always ignored me. I heard that male parrots love women and female parrots love men.
A girl at my job has a female gray that she needs to re-home. I am thinking of adopting the bird. It seems very nice to her, and when I visited the bird, it was nice to me. But I am afraid that when I take her home, she will transfer all her affection to my husband, as the other female bird did. -- Mary Rogers, East Hampton
A. That myth about parrots has been around as long as I can remember, and it is just a story.
First of all, people have been keeping parrots for centuries. We only had the technology to determine the sex of parrots easily a decade ago. So unless the bird laid eggs, there really was no way to tell if it was male or female.
Plus, how in the world can a bird know if the human is male or female, anyway?
Each bird is an individual, and each one is attracted to humans in a different way. Some like the way you look or the way you talk. Some prefer loud humans and some quiet ones. But their preferences are never determined automatically by sex.
So, if the female bird likes you now, then most likely she will continue to like you unless you become very busy and no longer have time for her. Then it may seek the attention -- and favor -- of another human in its family to fill that void.