This Best of Bogue column originally was published Dec. 5, 1995.

Dear Gary: When I stopped feeding the raccoons six months ago, they started coming in the cat door to eat the cats' food and trash the kitchen in revenge.

They would open oatmeal and cocoa packages as well as dumping the garbage on the floor. I even woke up one night to find them going through my bedroom wastebasket.

In desperation, I bought an electronic cat door and put magnets on the cats' collars so only they could enter. The little bandits soon learned they couldn't push through the cat door, so they pulled the door out and thus defeated the system.

I am temporarily ahead because I can set the door for "in only" and the raccoons cannot budge that.

Margaret J.

Kensington

DEAR MARGARET: You're ahead until they figure out those magnets are the "keys" to the house.

If one of your cats shows up missing its collar, you better shove a piano in front of that cat door.

DEAR GARY: You asked about cat treats. I have a 14-year-old, 20-pound indoor cat who has access to my screened-in patio. I keep a pot of baby's breath growing on the patio for him. He also enjoys Cosmic Cat catnip treats.

J. Bowles


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Benicia

DEAR GARY: Your dog biscuit recipe made all my canine friends very happy -- all that is, except the sly old dog I'm married to.

I made a big batch of your recipe, cut it into strips, brushed on the egg and milk wash and then sprinkled on some sesame seeds. After they baked I set the cookie sheets on the kitchen counter and went into my sewing room where I was making Christmas stockings for a few of my favorite dogs.

My husband came home from work, and helped himself to one of the cookies. As he came by my door he stuck his head in and said, "I hope you don't intend to give any of those cookies away; you really screwed up that recipe. They're as hard as rocks and I'm just lucky I didn't break one of my teeth."

I said we'd just have to give them to the dogs.

Jo Ann B.

Danville

DEAR JO ANN: If he starts to bark and chase you around the room, wash his mouth out with soap.

DEAR GARY: The other day my niece was looking out the window at her home in Orinda and saw a lizard about 18 inches long.

It didn't move for a half-hour. Thinking it was hurt, she called several animal shelters until she found one who would send someone out. A young lady came and threw a towel over it. She picked it up, turned it over and saw inscribed on its tummy, "Made in China."

I thought you'd like to know.

Jack

Martinez

DEAR JACK: If it came out of a nearby hole, I'd give it some careful thought before trying to fill up that hole.

DEAR GARY: On a very cold, dark night, I was walking home on a black asphalt road.

The light from my flashlight picked up a brilliant color.

On closer examination it was a leaf frozen in a pothole. Air around the edges had also been trapped by the quick freeze; this trapped air appeared as bright tiny bubbles.

All of this magic contrasting with the black background.

That image has remained with me for 57 years.

Jo J.

Livermore

Gary Bogue has retired after 42 years of writing this column. If you have animal-related questions, contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.