This Best of Bogue column originally was published Oct. 31, 2006.
Dear Gary: Halloween and strange sightings.
Layla, our new Chihuahua puppy, is going as a bat (because she has the bat look going already). Big dog Raider is of course TOO COOL for dress-up. Precious (our black cat) is going as -- what a surprise -- a black cat, and our cockatoo, Bambi, is going to perch on my boyfriend Rich's shoulder and do her best parrot imitation. Rich is going as Capt. Jack Sparrow.
I witnessed the strangest thing today, like a scene out of "The Birds." Layla was in the backyard eating weeds, her favorite pastime (I guess I should feed her more greens) when she lets out a yelp and comes charging into the house. I had heard a lot of bird noise but was deep in what I was doing so I had not looked up.
When she yelped, I turned and was totally amazed to see my whole fence lined with birds, but that was the least of it! We have a pistachio tree in the backyard and -- no exaggeration -- there must have been 200 birds in it. The whole tree was moving and every inch of it covered.
I ran to the back bedroom because the tree was right outside the window, and the cat and dogs climbed up on the bed for a better look. Unfortunately, I did not think to grab my glasses when I charged back there, so the best I can do, with sun in my face, is the birds were about starling size, brown/gray; thought I saw pale spots on wings, and pointed beaks.
A big truck drove by and startled them and they were gone. But for five minutes we had the most incredible sight. Precious is still wiping drool off her face.
Dear Gayle: You think that's bad? Wait until those 200 starlings put on their little Beaky Buzzard costumes and come trick-or-treating at your house.
Better have a lot of chocolate-covered birdseed on hand.
Trick or trick?
Don't let all the Halloween fun freak out your pets.
Keep pets out of the living room until trick-or-treating is over. All those little goblins at your front door can be pretty spooky to a dog or cat.
Put your animals in a back bedroom with a TV where they can be distracted by watching dog and cat shows on Animal Planet. If a backyard dog is excitable, put it in the garage until the witching time has passed.
Dogs and cats should be wearing collars with identification (license, phone number, magical spells like "Reward if found"), in case they get frightened and lost.
Keep trick-or-treat candies out of reach. Chocolate is bad for dogs and cats. It contains a substance (theobromine) that's toxic to canines and felines. If your pet vomits, seems nervous or is just acting strangely, call your veterinarian for advice.
Don't take pets trick-or-treating. It's hard enough trying to keep an eye on your kids.
Dear Gary: I have been feeding the jays peanuts all summer. Now they are burying most of them in the lawn. Will they be back for them, or will I have a peanut crop next year?
DEAR JUDY: It depends a lot on the kind of peanuts you've been using to feed the jays. Raw peanuts sprout when buried. Roasted peanuts are sterile and will rot and feed the worms.
If the scrub jays in my yard are any indication, jays are not good at finding peanuts they bury.
Fortunately my neighbors all feed the jays roasted peanuts. Otherwise, Lois and I would spending Thursday evenings at the farmers market selling Mr. Blue's Homegrown Peanuts.
Gary Bogue has retired after 42 years of writing this column. If you have animal-related questions, contact Joan Morris at email@example.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.