Dear Heloise: As an amateur pet rescuer who has rescued countless dozens of cats and dogs, I can tell you that a missing collar is a major reason why so many pets become hopelessly lost, stolen, abused or put down at the pound.

For every story of a dog getting its collar hung up, I would wager that there are 20 more stories where that collar and tags would have reunited the dog with its owner or saved its life. Collars are now available with breakaway buckles, preventing the pet from hanging itself in the very rare event that the collar becomes entangled.

Microchips are a great addition to a collar, but they are a poor replacement. Dogs wandering the streets without a collar are more likely to be stolen or abused. And non-collared dogs rarely get lucky enough to find a human willing to make the effort to take the lost pup home and place "found dog" signs in the neighborhood, hoping the rightful owner will eventually call. Please encourage dog and cat owners to put collars and tags on their beloved pets. — Brad Stone, Dallas

Brad, I agree, and so does Cabbie, our miniature schnauzer, who is microchipped and always wears her collar, even in the shower! — Heloise

Dear Heloise: Our kitten, Gracie, was spayed and had to wear an "e-collar" until she had her stitches removed. I cut the ends off a men's tube-type athletic sock and slipped it over her midsection to cover the stitches. She seemed to get used to the idea. I replaced the sock with a fresh one every couple of days, but she could groom most of her body. It worked wonderfully to prevent her from licking or biting the stitches. — Judy Wahl, via e-mail

Dear Readers: Arline Benes Nenni of Goffstown, N.H., shared a photo of Darby, a beautiful long-haired dog, shaking hands with her husband. Arline says, "Darby was adopted from the Rescue League by my daughter, and Darby is always 'smiling' as she shakes 'hands' with my husband."

If your newspaper doesn't print the pet photo, be sure to go to my Web site,, and click on Pet of the Week — you'll find Darby there! — Heloise

Dear Heloise: I put a sheet of wax paper under my cat's food bowls because he's a messy eater. Instead of scrubbing the floor or place mat every day, I ball up the old piece and lay down a new sheet. It makes me happy to see him always have a neat, clean eating area. — Mary Clarke, San Diego

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