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My Pet World: A few pet tips for the upcoming July 4th weekend

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

When things were at their worst, I would sit in a walk-in closet with my dog. The hanging clothes helped mask some of the sounds.

Many animal shelters say the day after July 4th is the busiest day of the year for receiving lost pets. So, make sure your pet is tagged and microchipped with your contact information in case you get separated.

I would love to hear your tips for keeping your pets safe and distracted during a thunderstorm or fireworks display.

Dear Cathy,

For ten years or so, a pair of ducks have come to my front lawn daily in June. I put out bowls of water and Cheerios, which they eat. One year, when the Cheerios bowl was empty, they walked up my walkway and waited until I refilled it. I can't believe they are the same pair of ducks. We never see any ducklings. How long do ducks live, and do they remember my address from year to year?

— Marvin, Massapequa, New York

Dear Marvin,

Those ducks are likely the same pair since some duck species migrate and use "homing" navigation to return to the precise location or general location where they had a successful nesting the previous year. This ability is both innate and learned.


The earth’s magnetic field serves as sort of a built-in GPS that helps birds migrate. That’s the genetic part they tune into each year. The learned part is that they fly with other birds who have already made the journey as well as rely on visual landmarks and fixed celestial bodies, like the sun and stars, to navigate.

I am not sure why you haven't seen any babies, though. But they are coming back to where they know there is reliable water and a food source.

There are anywhere from 25 to 30 duck species in the U.S.; some migrate, and some do not. Depending on the species, wild ducks can live anywhere from five to 20 years.

Let’s hope they come visit you for another ten years, but please consider feeding them something other than Cheerios, which have sugar and preservatives. Consider feeding them corn, oats, rice, frozen peas, chopped lettuce, sliced grapes, or birdseed instead.


(Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)

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