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April 13, 2006 Edition

Dear Max,

I love to chew on my feet, so mommy and daddy spray this very icky stuff on my toes. How do I get them to stop? I like chewing my toes. Is this bad? Or harmful?

Lovable Tanner

Yo Tanner,

Yours is a common malady in the canine population, and apparently among teenage girls waiting for phone calls from prospective homecoming and prom dates. And I, your trusted Shih Tsu Shychologist, heartily discourage foot chewing: I’ve seen too many lost soles. Obsessive chewing or licking is never a good thing, and there is a wide range of possible causes—from infections and allergies to obsessive-compulsive behavior. Click here for Google results on the topic… and paws to read a few! Worst of all, if you develop a sore or “hot spot,” the chewing may prevent it from ever healing. Experts say your parents are right to interrupt you, because it helps you develop better habits, and we dogs are creatures of same. The last thing you need is to be stuck with one of those silly collars (see why in the example below).


And if you must feast on your feet, why not try this? Switch the icky stuff with spray cheese. They spray, you wince and make like you’re in agony, then when they’re not looking, you’ve got a nice paw-infused snack.

Dear Max:

I’m constantly running into Californians who complain about feeling the earth move beneath them. I thought that was supposed to be a GOOD thing. All of Danielle Steele’s heroines seem to think so. What gives?


Dear A.S.U.,

Max, being of tender years and a memory that stretches no farther than last night’s dinner, is not qualified to speak on the subject (or sit or roll over or play dead on it, for that matter). But I, his sister Chelsea, lived through the 1994 Northridge earthquake … and it scared the bejesus out of me. Californians are sensitive to the shake. They’ve been traumatized. There’s nothing quite like having the planet dump all of your stuff on the floor, open a few gas mains, and tear up a major freeway or two. Having a floor under your feet that doesn’t twist and shout without warning is a fairly fundamental assumption; when that goes, you lose faith in all sorts of things. For instance, that’s when I stopped believing I could get a great deal on a used car, even if I had bad or no credit. Interestingly, some people say changes in animal behavior can predict earthquakes. I’m not so sure. If I’d known that quake of ‘94 was coming, I’d have tied a kerchief to a stick with all of my worldly belongings in it and split town. My advice for anyone living under the threat? Find out who’s at fault, and stay as far away from them as possible. Of course, my faith in one thing is unshakable: just when she thinks all hope is lost and life has passed her by, Danielle Steele’s heroine is going to get laid.

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