Q: We have a 2-year-old mini-dachshund. He is the best dog in the world except when we try to cut his nails. As soon as he sees the clippers in our hands, he runs. If we confront him, he turns into an 8-pound snarling wolf and has no hesitation in biting us. We tried to put a muzzle on him and then come out with the clippers, but he fought the muzzle so hard that he got his foot stuck in the strap and broke his dewclaw off. There was blood everywhere. His nails grow very quickly and they curl around into circles and cannot be comfortable for him. Do you have any tips to make the situation easier?
-- Gina Day, Oyster Bay
A: Either you can cut a dog's nails or you cannot, and it sounds like you cannot. Of course, if you had nothing to do all day you could train the dog with positive reinforcement to happily accept nail trimming. I remember vividly one time when I was visiting some friends who worked in a zoo and they had trained an adult male lion to extend his paw out of his cage thru a little opening to allow them to trim his nails all for a tablespoon of ground meat as a reward. However, it took weeks and weeks of training to get the lion to do this.
The best advice that I can give you is to just wave the white flag of defeat and take the dog to a groomer or your vet and have the job done professionally. It will cost money, but in the end it will be easier on both of you.
Q: A few months ago my 2- year- old cat, Martini, started pooping in my bathtub. She continued to pee in her litter box. When we blocked off the tub she continued to poop on the floor next to the tub. She still continues to pee in the box, which we keep immaculately clean. I would prefer not to change her litter brand due to asthma. We currently use feline pine which can easily be cleaned up and dumped in the toilet. Her litter box is lined and we've done nothing to change anything we've used. Other than diapers or potty training, do you have any suggestions?
-- Sheryl Bloom, Commack
A: If it is your destiny to have an issue like this with your cat, then a washable surface is a lot easier to deal with than furniture. Most cats prefer to bury their waste so that other cats do not know that they have been in that area, but your cat no longer has the instinct.
So the best advice that I can give to you is to have things under your own terms. Continue to keep the bathroom door closed and put a litter box right next to the one now that she pees in, but instead of litter just try lining it with a flat sheet of newspaper or a puppy wee-wee pad. Most likely when she goes to the litter box to pee she will explore the new box next to it with a smooth surface in it like she prefers. She just may then take advantage of it as long as she has elimination issues on her mind anyway. Then you can just dispose of the paper and line it with a new sheet for the next time. Compromise is still better than losing, and cats rarely lose.
Q: We live in Lindenhurst and there are flocks of wild quaker parrots in the park. We enjoy watching them. Last month, we noticed an all-blue quaker parrot flying in the group. When we went back a few days later, the bird was no longer to be seen. How does a blue bird appear in a group of green ones and what could have happened to it?
--Peter Grant, Lindenhurst
A: What you saw is a color mutation. Green is a combination of the primary colors blue and yellow and when a mutation in the genes of the bird removes the yellow color then you get a blue bird. Conversely, if the mutation removes the blue color then you get a yellow bird. What actually happened to the bird I cannot say, but a mutation like that in a wild population usually does not survive as the blue bird stands out in the flock of green ones and attracts the attention of predators such as hawks. The domesticated quaker parrots that are kept as pets are bred in the blue colors as well as yellow, white and combinations of these colors, but those birds are bred in controlled settings and thus not subject to natural selection as the bird that you saw was.