DEAR JOAN: A co-worker lives next door to a family with a full-size poodle who is left during the day in a backyard with a 4-foot perimeter fence -- a fence that she easily clears every day once the family has left for work and school.

The pup happily trots to parts unknown for play dates, most likely.

The earliest returning family members arrive home at 4 p.m., and just before that hour the poodle comes home as well, hops back into her yard, and all returns to normal. The family suspects she has remained on their property, of course, and probably the pup is even wise enough to supply evidence on the grounds to that effect.

Poodles are popular, but not everyone may enjoy having one wandering in their neighborhood.
Poodles are popular, but not everyone may enjoy having one wandering in their neighborhood. (Scott Fisher/Sun Sentinel)

As the canine seems to be doing very well for herself, my colleague is torn between informing the neighbors or respecting the choices of the poodle.

Tim Bowden

Felton

DEAR TIM: Your co-worker needs to rat on the poodle.

The issue here is safety. Wandering through the neighborhood is dangerous. She could get hit by a car, get into poisons, annoy neighbors with barking or bodily functions, annoy other pets and wildlife, and she could be stolen, lost or picked up by animal control. I hope she has identification.

The owners need to know and I hope they will be responsible pet parents and take action to keep the perambulating poodle safe at home.

DEAR JOAN: If perhaps some of the female bears in the Sierra were pregnant last fall, but the lack of cold and snow has thwarted the hibernation instinct, what will happen?

Will the sows just dig in somewhere and deliver without the protection of a den?

P. Corr

Martinez

DEAR P: Bears are not the heavy sleepers they are portrayed to be.

They do hibernate, but it is a light sleep and the length depends on the weather and availability of food. In zoos, where the bears have a steady diet, they usually don't hibernate at all.

The lack of cold and snow in the Sierra shouldn't matter to the pregnant females. They still will build a den, have their cubs and snooze a bit. The mild winter may have delayed the onset of hibernation, but the pregnant females would have secured their dens in anticipation of giving birth.

In places such as Alaska, bears will hibernate for up to seven months. In California, it can be two to five months, depending on the weather. Even when hibernating, they often wake up, search for some food and then return to sleep.

Keep cats clawed

Two years ago California enacted the nation's first law that prohibits landlords from requiring tenants to declaw or devocalize their cats and dogs as a condition of renting. But the voluntary practice of declawing cats continues.

Declawing is much more than just removing claws. Cats use their claws as we use our fingers. It's a painful operation that leaves the cats physically limited.

To learn more, join San Jose Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in city hall council chambers to see "The Paw Project," a critically acclaimed documentary on the practice. Dr. Jennifer Conrad will answer questions after the film.

Seating is limited so reserve a seat by emailing Pierluigi.Oliverio@SanJoseCA.gov.

Contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/AskJoanMorris.