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Think you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Consider Theodore, an 8-year-old Pug.

Pugs are "fun and cute, but the predominate perception is that they are not very trainable," said his owner, Suzanne Roche. She's found the opposite to be true, however.

Theodore was 3 years old when he began training. Soon, he began competing in AKC agility competitions and has earned several titles.

In addition, he is a certified therapy dog making regular visits to Erlanger and Health South rehabilitation hospitals. In fact, he does such a good job, he's been named an "Outstanding Visitor" by Therapy Dogs International.

"He loves to work," Ms. Roche said. "I believe that pets, like humans, need to be constantly mentally challenged or they become bored and lazy. And, as we all know, a bored animal can be very destructive. By continuously training, Theodore continues to learn new tasks which make him a better adjusted dog. Also, and my personal favorite reason for training, he and I build a deeper and deeper bond."

Ask an expert

Q: My cat is only 6 months old. Is she too young to get spayed?

A: Cats can get pregnant between 4 and 10 months old, depending on the cat. If your cat is not bred during her heat cycle she will continue to come in heat every two to three weeks until she is spayed or bred. The cats in your neighborhood that start yowling and fighting at this time of year are all announcing the arrival of "kitten season."

Your cat is at the perfect age to be spayed. If you think you can't afford it, talk to the wonderful folks at Wally's Friends before you make that final decision. Just one litter of kittens is one litter too many. Your cat will be a happier, healthier, more contented pet for being spayed.

-- Karen Walsh, LVMT, executive director, McKamey Animal Center

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