Animal Island: Hamsters, gerbils easy-care pets for kids

Q: Our kids are now 8 and 6, and we want to get them some kind of pet so that they will learn a bit of responsibility. Our landlord will not allow dogs or cats but said we could get any pet that stays in a cage. We were thinking of a bird or rodent and wondered what you suggest. My wife and I both work, so it would have to be something with low maintenance.


Talking Dog: 'Game' has turned into intimidation for family dog

Q: We have a 10-month-old shepherd mix, Gus. My husband has been playing "take away" games with Gus during feeding time for months, to make sure he is safe around our 4-year-old. What started as a game of take away the food bowl while Gus was eating, and then returning it once he sat on command has turned ugly. Gus now grabs at the food as if he hasn't eaten in days, and has growled and urinated twice when my husband approached. Yesterday he growled at my son! Can this dog be saved? Ashley


Animal Island: How to keep a cat from dirtying its water bowl

Q: I have five indoor cats - same litter, male and female, about 11 years old. One of these cats will not stay out of the water dishes. He loves water! I refresh the water dishes twice daily, but they always are full of fur and kitty litter from his paws. I am concerned because I can't imagine the stuff the kitty litter is made of is safe for drinking water. Also, he makes a mess! Do you know of any solution for this problem?


Pet Vet: Lab's eye swelling could be a dental issue

Dalia and George from Goleta, Ca., have written in concerning their dog, Mica. Mica is a 6-year-old Labrador retriever that has been with them since puppyhood. Over the last few weeks, Mica has developed a swelling just in front of her left eye.

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