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Dear Tabby

June 22, 1986|PATT MORRISON

Cat got your tongue--or the rest of the canapes? Dog running amok on the Aubusson? About 400 times a month, in calls from San Diego to Kansas City, San Francisco's Animal Behavior Hotline rings with just such problems from petulant owners. Strangers to the SPCA telephone service often "think it's funny, but when they find people are willing to destroy pets for something that could be solved so easily," they stop laughing, says Gwen Bohnenkamp, the pet "shrink" who fields the calls. Besides rug messes and midnight barks, there are tougher cases--a psychotic cat licking itself bald, or the grown dog who chases his tail obsessively. "It becomes a habit, like nail biting or cigarette smoking," Bohnenkamp says. On the phone, "I have to try to bring out their sense of humor so they'll open up." Sometimes, they bring out her sense of humor. A Marin County man with a black cloth-top Mercedes fretted that his neighbor's white Persian cat was snoozing on his car-top and leaving hair all over it. Her answer: a lint brush.

First-Class Act Pittsburgh Planning Director Robert Lurcott has said no way to the one-way Pittsburgh-to-Los Angeles first-class ticket given him by Pittsburgh Councilwoman Michelle Madoff. Lurcott is up for an urban-planning job in Los Angeles. That, along with the fact that a planning memo was revealed in Pittsburgh newspapers before Madoff's tourism task force had voted on it, provoked Madoff into sending him the $460 ticket, with the hope that "you will find the environment there more conducive to your style." But Madoff sounds more the L.A. type. She sued Pittsburgh when she tripped over a cable in council chambers. She also picketed the mayor over a lack of bathrooms for councilwomen. Lurcott, meanwhile, says he'll visit soon: Los Angeles is "a good city to get a ticket to."

Hurry Up and Wait Want to see a waiter move fast? Try to catch one of the 22 statewide elimination rounds of the Vittel / Cycling Waiters Race, a water-torture competition to find the steadiest tray in the state. About 500 waiter or waitress teams on tandem bikes will eventually compete, wheeling 175 feet to a finish line in Hal Roach fashion, one pedaling, the other carrying a 42-ounce bottle of the French mineral water and four full glasses. No spills or you're out. The grand winner of this Garcon Olympics, which is scheduled to come to Los Angeles in November, gets $1,000, or about what he or she would earn in tips from serving 3,000 patty melts.

On Not Throwing in the Trowel If it was good enough for Sir Winston Churchill, it's good enough for Matthew Seib. The Long Beach high school junior cornered the bricklaying competition in the recent statewide vocational contest, and this week joins California winners in 21 other manual arts, from air conditioning to welding, to mitre and mortar their way to gold medals in the U.S. Skill Olympics in Phoenix. Seib joined his high school VICA--Vocational Industrial Clubs of America, the urban answer to 4-H Clubs--in part at his mother's urging, and in part because his best friend's brothers were bricklayers. "It seemed like fun--I'd help 'em out, clean the tools up." And, he can earn big and tan at the same time. "I never worked indoors. I don't like being cooped up." Winnie would call him a brick.

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