Q: Our 1-year-old beagle, Eva, sleeps in our California king-size bed with us. She has done so for the past eight months. There is plenty of room — but she likes to sleep on us. My husband sleeps like a rock, but she keeps me awake. She also moves around and makes little noises, which are cute during the day but are wreaking havoc with my sleep. Attempts to have her sleep in her own bed are met with hours and hours of endless barking and crying. Any advice? -- Emily Tunkel, Middle Island
A: As a kid I always had my dogs sleep in bed with me and I would always have to curl up in one corner of the bed as they would take it upon themselves to stretch out as much as they could. You already have a king-size bed so you cannot get one any bigger and you do not sound like the type of person who could shut the door to your bedroom and let her cry herself out for hours and hours until she resigned herself to the situation and crept off to her own bed. (You and I and all dog lovers know that if this were done consistently that would solve the problem.) All you can really do right now is to figure out some other sleeping arrangement for yourself and abandon the big bed to your husband and Eva.
If it is any consolation, I can advise you that as a dog gets older it sleeps more soundly and she will not fuss about so much.
Q: We have had a blue and gold macaw now for the last 10 years and we assumed that Max was a male as he only liked the female members of our house and has nothing to do with my son and husband. However the other day Max laid an egg in the bottom of his cage. She sat on it for a day and then forgot about it so we took it out and disposed of it, but we always thought that male parrots like women best and female parrots liked men best. So what is the story with Max/Maxine here now? -- Jennifer Amelio, Hauppauge
A: That myth has been around as long as humans have been keeping parrots as pets, but it is indeed just a myth. The idea that a bird could instinctively know the DNA of a creature as alien to it as a human is like you knowing the sex of a creature from the planet Koosbane. A pet bird or dog or any other animal may be attracted to or fear certain physical characteristics manifested by either men or women such as the tone of our voice or the way we move, but it is just the actions that they have categorized. They just see it as some humans are loud, some are big, some are small, some fast and some slow, and they are either attracted to those particular humans or not or just do not care either way.
Back to Max/Maxine. Now that you know that he is a she you should do your best to be sure that she gets a varied diet rich in calcium as the formation of eggshells takes a lot out of a bird. There are liquid calcium supplements that you can buy to add to her water daily to be sure that she has enough calcium in her body at all times so the process of laying eggs does not deplete her of it.
Q: We have a male, 8 1⁄2-year-old standard poodle that’s been a perfect pet until two months ago. While walking him, a pickup truck with a pit bull in the back went by. The dog was growling, barking and looked like he was going to jump out and attack us. My poodle barked and pulled hard after the dog, which he has never done before. From that day forward, our dog, the same one that got compliments from strangers about how nice he walked with me and my husband, turned into a dog that lunges and barks at every car or truck that passes by. I tried diverting his attention with treats, which helped for a while, but doesn’t anymore. We bought a harness that has a strap that goes around his nose which also helped for a while, but now he shakes his head to get it off for every car that passes. We are struggling with our morning walks and evening walks are out of the question. -- Eileen Ehrlinger, Islip Terrace
A: This is a problem that can be fixed, but it takes a bit of work. The issue here is that your dog is caught up in this cycle of self-rewarding behavior; every time a vehicle approaches he barks at it and lunges at it and then it goes away, so in his mind he is chasing it off. Thus the car retreating from him is the reward and it happens every single time.
To fix this situation, you have to do what a scientist would call “flooding” — you just have to expose him to so many passing vehicles that he cannot possibly try to chase them all away and the experience numbs him and desensitizes him to the situation.
On a nice day when you have a few hours to kill, just put him in your car along with a folding chair and a good book and drive to a very busy road where you can pull over to the side and safely park for a while. Then sit in the chair next to the road holding firmly on to his leash and just read the book for a for a few hours. Let him bark and jump at the cars all he wants and do not admonish him about it in any way; simply ignore him. As time goes on he will grow weary of the whole situation and eventually decide that the passing vehicles are just part of the scenery and not worthy of his attention anymore.
You will know that he has come to this conclusion when he finally stops and lays down next to your chair. Then just let him lay there for a while and pack up and go home. After you get home and go for a walk back in your neighborhood, he may forget what he learned and lunge at the passing cars, but do not be disheartened. You may have to make a few trips to the busy road with him to totally flood out of his head the old behavior and replace it with the new one, but it’s worth a try.