Don Budgie loves to swoop down, perch on a beer mug and stick his head in the foam. It's a real cute trick. I've watched him closely, and I don't think he's actually drinking any beer. There's no harm, is there? -- B.B.

Don Budgie's suds stunt could be detrimental if (a) he's actually putting away some beer in the process. It could put on the pounds (well, grams anyway). And (b) the alcoholic content itself could be detrimental over a period of time. Of more immediate concern would be the possibility of slipping while slurping and ending up swimming. A budgie would quickly become hypothermic in a frosty beer, and they don't swim well (or at all) anyway. If no lifeguard was on hand, he could quickly drown. Inhalation pneumonia or other complications could occur even if he were fished out promptly. DEAR DR. MILLER:

Even though Lulu, our old dog, hasn't noticed them, I certainly have. The big rats around our summer place here. Are they likely to be a danger to her? Rats wouldn't attack a big dog, even an old one, would they? -- C.C.

A rat attack would be an unlikely hazard for Lulu. Rats would be a far greater hazard to her indirectly from the diseases they might carry.

One of the common diseases rats could transmit to Lulu is leptospirosis, so be sure her vaccines, including one for leptospirosis, are current. Leptospirosis is also a human disease and, of course, rats can carry many other diseases, from the plague on down. So keep your distance as much as possible from these wily wild critters. DEAR DR. MILLER:

A horse who has had a lifetime protective shot for lockjaw can't ever get it, can it? E.J.

A horse receiving only one vaccination for tetanus would not be immune to the disease for a lifetime, nor even close to it. Tetanus booster vaccinations are recommended on a yearly basis. Any horse whose vaccinations are not current, who has received a deep puncture-type wound, should immediately be given tetanus antitoxin and perhaps an antibiotic.