Virginia Ottaviano of New Jersey sent in this photo of her dog.

Dear Heloise: I wanted to remind readers of one very important thing that people should do when leaving their pets in the care of someone else. Contact your veterinarian, and leave a signed permission to treat form. That way, if anything really serious happens to your pet, the sitter can take the animal immediately to the vet for treatment, without having to try to contact the owner and waste precious time. The form you sign guarantees that you will pay any fees that are incurred.

When my horse was bitten by a rattlesnake while we were out of town, the sitter immediately called my vet, who was there within the hour. —Stephanie Casdorph, via e-mail

Stephanie, good advice for all pet owners. Folks, do this ASAP. —Heloise

Dear Heloise: I've worked at a veterinary hospital for many years and would like to share a couple of hints with you.

After spay surgery on my cat, she became hyper after her anesthesia wore off at home that first night. She wanted to lick at her incision, so I cut a tube sock (just the cuff part, which was calf-high), cut arm/leg holes in it and put it over her body. I could sleep easier knowing that she could not lick the incision open overnight.

Also, for those who have a hard time brushing their pet's teeth, I bought a battery-powered toothbrush for kids. I can apply pet toothpaste (formulated so it won't harm the animal when swallowed) and just go in one side, then the other, with more brush rotations than if I did it manually. Less time fighting with the pet, and it's cheap! I've found this easier with small dogs that have been acclimated to the sound of clippers while being groomed. —Joann Kotula, Caledonia, Mich.

Dear Readers: Virginia Ottaviano of Neptune City, N.J., sent a photo of her beagle-looking dog, Freckles, lying on a pillow by the door. Virginia says: "One hot day, Freckles carried his pillow to the open door and fell asleep. I thought that was pretty clever." —Heloise

Dear Heloise: Thank you for running our letter about our cat, Freddie the Freeloader. Friends from our church saw it in the paper and sent it to us. We were so surprised and shocked to find out that our letter about Freddie was used.

I am now getting onto your Web site more often to look at the pictures of everyone's wonderful pets. Thanks for doing such a wonderful job. —Janet and Chuck Gallmeyer, via e-mail

Freddie the Freeloader certainly deserved his name, and it's a nice story since he ended up with a permanent home! If other readers have a funny or unusual pet name, we would love to hear from you. We will pick some of our favorites and print them. —Heloise

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