Marc Morrone was born in 1960 in the Bronx and, when he was 2, his family moved to
We have two 2-year-old Bichons. We've had them since they were 2 months old. Shea is very laid back and calm. Valentino is a ball of energy. They get along OK -- some occasional roughhousing, but nothing too bad until it's time for bed. In the middle of the night, Valentino will jump up and start attacking Shea for no reason. Is there anything we can do about this behavior?
--Nick Maggio, Valley Stream
You say there is no reason why Valentino attacks Shea at night, but there is a reason. The issue here is that you cannot speak dog, and most dogs cannot speak human.
If this were a TV show, the producers would place cameras in the room to film what is going on at night between the two dogs. Then they would do a whole show where people like me watch the video and determine what the trigger is that sets Valentino off. They then would figure out some type of solution and everybody is happy.
But with only words to go on, the only thing I can suggest is to keep the dogs separated at night -- separate rooms or separate crates. If an animal is prevented from choosing a behavior for a long enough period, it will no longer think that behavior is an option.
Every day now for the past week, a cardinal flies against my living room window for hours at a time. If I go outside and chase it away, it flies off and then comes right back again and just flies against the window over and over again. We have a bird feeder full of sunflower seeds in the back part of the yard, and I have seen the bird frequent the feeder so it cannot be looking for food. I have no idea why this is happening or how I can stop it.
--Rhonda Ginsberg, Lawrence
Even though it still may be cold out, the daylight is longer each day, and the longer photo period triggers a rush of testosterone in wild birds that causes them to want to breed. Thus, they act a bit loopy. Normally shy robins will suddenly become as tame as domesticated birds and allow humans to walk right up to them. Some birds, like your male cardinal, become so protective of their territory that they will go out of their way to fight off any intruder. Your cardinal is seeing his reflection in the window of the living room and thinking the reflection is another male bird that will not leave its territory.
Thus far, the only animals that science has proved to recognize their own reflections are apes, dolphins and elephants. As smart as birds are, they just do not get the idea of a reflection and thus treat it as another bird. In this case, the other bird just will not get the hint that it must leave the area. This is literally driving your resident cardinal crazy.
So, what you have to do is prevent the bird from seeing its reflection. The best way to do this is to tape some paper to the outside of the window from the base to about 6 inches high.
Now when the bird lands on the windowsill, it will not see its reflection anymore and hopefully will go back to its hardworking mate who has had to do all the homemaking work on her own thus far because of this stressed-out male.
My Yorkie and cat get along very well and spend much of their time together. In fact, it seems they spend too much of their time together as they love to share their meals. We know dogs and cats need different diets, so we do our best to prevent this from happening by feeding the cat up on the kitchen counter so he and his food are out of reach of the dog. However, when we try to feed the dog separately by locking the cat out of the room, the dog gets very upset and leaves his food to go to the door to scratch at it and allow the cat back in. He will not eat until we open the door. Then the cat rushes in and joins him at the food bowl. The vet says both animals are fine and not to worry about it, but we do anyway.
--Marisa Sampredo, Merrick
I think this sounds pretty cute, actually.
If a cat were just fed dog food or vice versa, then there would be an issue here, but I think the cat is just politely partaking of the dog's meal so there are no hurt feelings. If, as you say, the cat gets to eat its own food up on the counter, then he is getting all the nutrition he needs. So, as your vet said, do not worry.
Just enjoy watching the harmony and friendship between these two species.