George has been terribly grumpy for the past three weeks. That's when I found him. What can you do to improve the disposition of a garter snake?


Undoubtedly the best way to improve George's would be to put him back near where you found him. It's really expecting a lot, too much in fact, to expect George to be happy about being in a strange new world and a prisoner besides.


I've heard of a special dog food which contains the DES drug to keep a female from coming into heat. I know they don't consider the DES drug safe for humans anymore. Could it have any undesirable effects on our little girl? Ebbie is a Skipperke.


The potentially undesirable effects of estrogenic compounds, such as DES, are dependent upon the length of time the product is given (since tissue effects may be cumulative) and the dosage. While the dosage in a contraceptive dog food would be rather low, I would still not consider such a product ideal for Ebbie if she's to be used for breeding eventually. If she's not to be bred, then an ovariohysterectomy would be a better solution.


This summer, our guests often came down with a dose of poison oak, or is it poison ivy? It's punchy, our cat. He goes out and plunges through the stuff, comes back in and jumps in our lap. And you've had it. A big itchy rash begins. You mentioned once rubbing something on the skin right away to counteract the effects of the poison oak. I think it was a vegetable. Was it onions?


Onions are good for lots of things, but in this case, potatoes are preferable. The surface of a freshly sliced raw potato does indeed contain a substance to neutralize the tosic resins produced by poison oak and related plants. Keep that raw potato handy though. The potato juice skin rinse, to be effective, should be done as soon after contact as possible. Prevention -- keeping the cat off chairs (and in particular out of laps) would be the best bet.