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."