MARC MORRONE: Building fence only way to stop fig-eating dog

By Marc Morrone

Q: My golden retriever has taken a liking to the figs on my fig tree, and every time we let him into the yard he pulls off as many as he can reach from the lower branches. There are plenty of figs to go around, and the first few times we saw him doing it we thought it amusing to watch how he sniffs them first to see if they are ripe.
However, with him eating all these figs, it now seems like we need to carry a mop with us when we go for walks rather than a pooper scooper. Is there any way to dissuade him from eating the figs? With the hot weather we have had, there seems to be quite a lot of figs on the tree this year, and I cannot see having to deal with this for the rest of the summer.
A: Some dogs really like fruit. Your dog sees no reason why he should not be able to partake of the bounty, and there is no way to train him to not eat the figs when he is in the yard unsupervised.
I have a big, brown, shaggy mutt named Garfield who discovered that strawberries tasted good. He would wade into my strawberry bed and gently pull them off the plants one by one, eating them as he went. He looked like a brown bear up in the mountains foraging for berries. However, cleaning up after him when he had just gorged himself was not a pleasant experience. I solved the problem by putting a fence around the strawberry bed.
Most likely that is what you are going to have to do around your fig tree. If the tree is in a place where a temporary fence is not possible, then you are going to have to do your best to pluck off as many unripe figs from the lower branches as you can. However, ripe figs will still fall from the upper branches, so the fence really is the best way. Or don’t let your dog outside alone.
Q: My cat
is hunting down and eating cicadas all day long. They put up such a fuss and make so much noise when she grabs them that I am afraid that one will bite or sting her on the lips or tongue as she is subduing it. Thus far all seems OK, though. Do I have any reason to worry about this?
A: The adult cicadas that make noise from trees all summer long have no mouth parts capable of biting. The buzzing and drama and wing flapping that you hear are the only defense that the cicada has. These insects actually are full of protein and are an important food source for many wild birds and mammals. To the best of my knowledge, cicadas are not a vector host to any internal parasites that would affect your cat, but if you want to be 100 percent sure, ask your vet to examine a stool specimen to put your worries at rest. Better yet, keep your cat inside to avoid the many pitfalls out in the world.
Keep bunny cool
Q: Our bunny
is in a hutch in our backyard, and he seems to be very uncomfortable in the hot weather. He stretches out as far as he can and pants heavily. What can we do to cool him off? I thought of spraying him and the hutch down with the hose, but I heard that rabbit fur does not do well with getting wet.
A: Putting a frozen water bottle in the hutch for him to lean against would cool him off, but the best thing you can do is to keep your bunny in the house out of the heat. He will be a happier pet, and it is a lot easier to care for him in the winter months if he is indoors. Besides, rabbits get stressed out when they’re wet.
Hutch rabbits suffer horribly in a heat wave. A wild bunny can dig a hole into the cool earth to get out of the heat, but hutch rabbits just have to sit there and take it. Plus, your indoor bunny can learn to use a litter box and live a much nicer life. You can learn all about this at
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