It’s time for some reader feedback.
DEAR JOAN: I am writing in response to your article on the invasive ground squirrels. My thought is, why has nobody designed a garden robot?
We have the Roomba for sweeping our homes, why not have a simple robot that has passive tentacles that waive when the robot moves about? A noisemaker can also be easily included in this design.
Such a device would scare away all garden invaders like birds, squirrels, heck, even boar and deer. Later versions could squirt water as well. Your thoughts?
Lance Dursi, Bay Area
DEAR LANCE: Race you to the patent office.
DEAR JOAN: The complete and easy solution to protect your pet from other animals is a double run or cage.
For example, a kennel run within another kennel run, with spacing of at least 12-inches between the two runs. There would also need to be a topper — only a single is needed — on it. Having a topper is critical.
The 12 inches between the runs would prevent an animal like a raccoon from sticking its arm through the fencing and grabbing one’s pet. While this may not be an inexpensive solution, it definitely will protect your pet.
Also, going outside with your pet will not keep it 100 percent safe. Do you really think you could outrun or outmaneuver a bird of prey, coyote or other animal? I don’t know about you, but even in my 20s I couldn’t have done that, and I’m well past that now. Yes, your presence might deter an animal, but it may not.
Ann Begun, San Jose
DEAR ANN: Thanks for the information on the double run. And no, I couldn’t outrun or outmaneuver even a slow-moving, elderly animal.
Animals that go after our pets don’t see them as pets. They see size and shape, and their brains say “prey.” They don’t view us that way, so often our presence — close to our pets — is enough of a signal to them to look elsewhere, but you’re correct. It’s not guaranteed.
DEAR JOAN: In regard to your column about keeping pets safe from ticks your information and suggestions are right on and thorough, except (you knew this was coming, huh?) where you suggest treating your landscape with a pesticide.
This was shocking to me because it’s not just that you kill a lot of nice, helper bugs with poison, you and your children are exposed to these toxic substances. Pesticides have been implicated in some serious illnesses involving human immune systems and more.
Have you noticed that spray-can pesticides have been made now to smell like common household odor removers, so people are out there spraying this toxic stuff and breathing it in?
I love being out in the yard, lying in the grass and watching this entire other wild society of little creepers, crawlers, hoppers and burrowers.
Forest Rosengren, Martinez
DEAR FOREST: Consider me properly chastised. I should have been more specific, recommending the least toxic chemicals and substances, although anything used improperly can cause toxicity.
I was trusting in my readers to know what was best for them, but a little reminder about the dangers of pesticides and their overuse was in order.
Could a robot get rid of pesky squirrels?