The stage has been set;

Fall enters, followed by rain —

Cue the violins.

— haiku by Lura Osgood, Pleasant Hill

Halloween pet tips

The Humane Society of the United States wants to remind us that humans aren't the only ones susceptible to frightening activity on Halloween.

The best place for pets today is a safe, quiet spot, well out of the way of activities, says the HSUS. I agree.

Here are a few handy tips for making Halloween a safe holiday for your pets:

  • Keep pets safely inside away from trick-or-treaters and other Halloween activities.

  • Make certain that all pets are wearing collars with ID tags, especially indoor pets. Frequently opened doors tonight provide perfect opportunities for escape, despite our best efforts.

  • Keep candy out of your pet's reach. Candy can be harmful to pets, and chocolate is toxic to dogs, cats and ferrets.

  • If you're going trick-or-treating, leave the family dog at home. Dogs can be difficult to control with all those crazy ghosts and goblins running around them. A lost pet or a dog bite will quickly end your Halloween fun.

  • Keep decorations away from pets. Candle flames might set fire to a pet's fur. Dangling decorations should be kept in high places to avoid pet entanglement, choking and other potentially life-threatening hazards.

  • The only costume most pets want to wear is their own furry birthday suit. If your pet wears a costume, make sure it doesn't restrict movement and supervise your pet carefully.

    Dear Gary:

    I am an animal lover, particularly cats (my husband and I had six). When we were "catless" once for about three months we decided it was time to get another two cats (we enjoy two at a time).

    We went to the animal shelter to find a cat. The man working there pointed out a particularly friendly little black cat. We adopted him. This man told us how to introduce our next cat to this one.

    He said that for about a week before we were to get the second cat, I should wear the same perfume every day and spray my hand and pet the top of the head of our existing cat.

    When we finally found the second cat, we had to wait five days to get him because he was a stray. When we were able to get "Charlie" I brought the carrier, and the perfume. Just before we took him into the house to meet "Higgins," I sprayed my hand and petted his head.

    When we brought him into the house it took only about 45 minutes before the two cats were on the same chair. They were great pals for the 18 years that we had them.

    Mary, San Mateo

    Dear Mary:

    Perfume has been used to help introduce orphan baby animals to new foster parents, usually by putting a dab of perfume on the new mama's nose so all the babies, even the new one, smell the same to her. But I've never heard of it being used in the way you describe. Anyone else ever try this? Did it work for you, too?

    Beastly things to do

  • From 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 1), Pet Food Express will donate 100 percent of all dog wash token sales at their Concord and Clayton stores to ARF. Tokens are $15 each or four for $45 and may be used year-round at any of the 32 Pet Food Express stores equipped with dog wash areas.

  • Purr-casso Art & Craft Sale, noon-4 p.m. Nov. 9, at Hollis Street Project, 5900 Hollis Street, Emeryville. Decorative, wearable and functional art pieces celebrating our feline friends in an afternoon of art, hors d'oeuvres and beverages. Admission and parking are free. Proceeds benefit Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society. More at www.berkeleyhumane.org.

    Find more Gary in his blog at www.ibabuzz.com/garybogue. or write Gary, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099; old columns at ContraCostaTimes.com., click on Columns; e-mail garybug@infionline.net.