DEAR JOAN: I was very interested in the letter last week where someone asked about flushing cat feces down the toilet and your response that this shouldn't be done because cat feces could carry a parasite that could contaminate water supplies.
My question is this: Does this also apply to dog feces? I have a golden doodle and also care for a labradoodle during the workweek while his owners are at work.
Because I have a bathroom right by the back door, I'm in the habit of gathering up piles once or twice a day, flushing them down the toilet and washing my hands thoroughly afterward.
If flushing is not the answer, what do you recommend? I hate to scatter them in the garden or on the slope and really would not like to dig a hole to bury the piles.
DEAR ALICE: The answering to the flushing question is yes and no. Dog feces doesn't carry the same parasite's eggs that can sicken marine life -- only cats and members of the cat family shed that particular parasite in their feces. But they can carry other parasites that may pollute the water. Depending on the size and breed of the dog, it may also clog your pipes.
Water treatment specialists recommend you use biodegradable poop bags and toss them in the trash. Yes, it contributes to the landfill and yes, it takes a long time for the bags to decompose, but that's the best solution they have.
Dog feces can be composted and used on ornamental plants. Don't use it in or near your edible garden. You also can bury it, but again, keep it away from areas you may use for vegetable gardening. Don't just scatter it around.
DEAR JOAN: My sister-in-law has had multiple sclerosis for years and can't do some things. She has a black cat that always sits on her lap, night and day.
About a month ago Jasmin, the cat, started sneezing. The vet said it was just a bad cold and she got better, but since she left my sister-in-law's lap while she was sick she now will not go back. What is wrong? Cats are great pals. Mine listen to everything I say.
DEAR JOHN: By now, I hope Jasmin has gone back to enjoying your sister-in-law's lap. Cats are funny, dear animals who do things we can't comprehend. She may have associated your sister-in-law's lap with her illness and decided she didn't want to feel sick again. Or she may have just gotten out of the habit.
But what can be learned can be unlearned. Your sister-in-law should entice her back onto her lap with some treats and lots of petting. All should be right again in a few days.
DEAR JOAN: When watching "The City Dark" documentary on PBS recently, I was prepared to face regrets over light pollution, but totally unprepared to learn of the massive effects on the natural world, specifically birds and turtles. The website (www.pbs.org/pov/citydark) offers quick facts, references and resources. For example, it is estimated that at least 100 million birds are killed each year when they fly into man-made structures. The strikes due to urban light represent about a third of all incidents, but two-thirds occur during the daytime -- 90,000 birds are killed flying into buildings in New York.
I'd like to encourage everyone to see the film and go to the American Bird Conservancy website (www.abcbirds.org) to find out how you can make buildings in your community bird friendly.
DEAR CAROLYN: Sounds like a good idea to me.
Contact Joan Morris at email@example.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.