All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Kids Write In

Dear Readers,
Recently, I had the wonderful privilege of speaking to the second graders at a local Elementary School. We talked about responsible pet guardianship, living with urban wildlife, and many other animal related subjects. Because there is never enough time to address everyone’s questions during such a presentation, I invited the children to write letters to The Animal Files. I've
included in today’s column a few of my favorites, along with my replies.

Dear Ms. Hulett,
Why do dogs bark? Is that their way of talking (because my dog barks a lot at people)? How do you make them stop?

Dear Nathan,
Dogs bark for attention. Sometimes, they are bored. Sometimes they are trying to warn you that a stranger or another animal is near. In any case, they are indeed trying to “talk” to you. Sometimes, they are just excited and want to let you know. The best way to keep your dog from barking, is to make sure he gets lots of attention and is never left alone outside for long periods of time. Indoor dogs tend to be much quieter and happier than outdoor dogs.

Dear Ms. Hulett,
What do you do with a cat that acts like a dog? He chases his tail and drinks out of the toilet. I hope my cat is all right.

Dear Kathryn,
I wouldn't worry too much about a little tail chasing. Kitties love to play and they make “toys” out of anything that catches their fancies – including their own tails. If you and you family laugh or make a big deal out of his tail chasing – he is likely to chase it even more because he senses the positive reaction he is getting from everyone. If you don’t want him to chase his tail and notice he is in a playful mood, find a long piece of string to drag along the floor in front of him. He’ll forget his tail and go for the string. As far as drinking out of the toilet is concerned, I would recommend always keeping the lid closed and making sure your kitty has plenty of clean, fresh water in his own bowl.

Dear Ms. Hulett,
If I get a dog, I’ll train him. I’ll play with him. I’ll take him outside. I’ll help my dad build a doghouse. I’ll take him for walks. I’ll make him food and wash him too. That is my question.

Dear Alonzo – hmmmm – I think I know what you question is – and I bet your parents know too! Keep up the good attitude and show your parents how responsible you are with other things—like school work—keeping your room clean, and helping around the house. Then, I suspect it won’t be long before your parents say, “yes” to your “question.”

Dear Ms. Hulett,
I have a question about my rabbits. They all run away. They all dig their way out. I have a lot of holes in my back yard. But I don’t know why they always run away from me. What should I do to make my yard safe so my rabbits won’t run away anymore?

Dear Tiffany,
The best thing you can do to keep your rabbits safe is to keep them indoors. There are many good books about house rabbits and I suggest visiting your local library or animal shelter to find out how to keep a pet rabbit inside your home. Did you know rabbits can be litter-box trained?

They also become far more affectionate and playful if kept indoors. If you cannot keep your rabbits inside, it is not wise to get any others, as they will all continue to dig out and run away.

Dear Ms. Hulett,
What pet should I start out with? Should I start with a rabbit? I don’t have any pets. If I get a pet, how much should I feed it? What kind of pet do you have? How do you train pets? Are dogs and cats good animals?

Dear Anhvu,
The first thing you should do is talk with you parents to find out what type of pet would be best for you and your family. The most important thing you can do to ensure you’ll be a good pet owner is to make a few trips to the library and check out books about animals. Then you can learn about all animals and decide which one you are ready to care for and train. I think every animal is good. I have a bird, two dogs, three cats and a fish.
Good Luck!

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