Dear Readers: While we celebrate winter festivities, people in most states hear no crickets or other singing and buzzing insects, so vital for our pollinator-needing crops and for a healthy environment. The winter cold silences them. It is my New Year's wish that people will realize the urgent need to stop the unnatural "silent spring" that follows. It was predicted by the late Rachel Carson, and we are now deeply immersed in it. For details, visit I received the following letter from another nonprofit organization dedicated to this end, the Xerces Society (

Dear Michael: I want to THANK YOU for your contribution to our work. Our members, donors and partners in conservation are an integral part of the Xerces community. I am so appreciative for all that you do to make the world a better home for the butterflies, bees, dragonflies and other invertebrates, which we all love. At a recent book signing, I had several members bring in well-thumbed copies of "Attracting Native Pollinators" for me to sign at the same time as they purchased our new book. It is heartwarming to know that Xerces materials are out there being used by people to guide the choices they make in their daily lives to create healthy communities. These communities provide the habitat where invertebrates are able to thrive. Seeing how far we have come is all the motivation we need to continue to expand our outreach and education to reach more and more individuals like you who can make a difference. We are able to protect, restore, and manage habitat in a variety of landscapes because of the support and commitment of our community, and the only way we will achieve our shared vision is by continuing to work together, support each other and learn from each other. Thank you for standing with us!-Scott Black, director of the Xerces Society

Dear S.B.: I would add that all who use anti-flea and -tick drugs and other anti-parasite medications on their dogs and cats should realize that they may be putting their animals at risk (safer, integrated pest-control methods are detailed on my website,

Additionally, many of these drugs are distributed in the animals' feces. All fecal material should be picked up and disposed of in contained garbage. This is because, when fecal-consuming insects and their larvae in the soil are killed by these residual drugs, the cold- and warm-blooded vertebrates who rely on the insects and larvae as a food source are being put at risk. This is even more the case with manure from pesticide-treated livestock and poultry not raised under Organic Certification standards. Dear Dr. Fox: I saw a recent article by you about problems with incontinence, and my dog has a similar problem. My dog is staying with friends who have two other dogs. Mine is a 16-year-old bichon/shih tzu, who is peeing everywhere, including her bed at their home. She will be staying with them for four months this winter. At the moment, I am taking her to a Banfield vet in a PetSmart store. She does not pee all over when she is with me. I am taking her to the vet to see if she has a urinary infection. I have no one else to leave her with. Any ideas will be much appreciated.-M.F., St. Louis

Dear M.F.: This is an old dog, and I fear she may be put through stressful tests with the veterinarian, then put on medications for the incontinence that could make her even more anxious. But it is important to rule out cystitis and bladder stones. There may be some dementia in addition to the anxiety, which could account for her incontinence when in an unfamiliar place away from home. I would suggest that the caregivers give her 1 mg of melatonin at night to help with sleep, and also try Traditional Medicinals' organic Nighty Night tea. The tea is for humans, available in many grocery and health stores. Make the tea and let one bag seep in a cup of hot water. When cool, give it to your dog in the morning and again in the early evening. Season with a little milk or gravy to encourage consumption.

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Send all mail to or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Visit Dr. Fox's website at