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Keep cookouts safe

Dogs are notorious for stealing items off the grill — or at least begging for a taste — but make sure you know what's safe before handing out treats or laughing off a canine food theft. Say yes with a smile to a bite of skinless, boneless lean meat, such as chicken, as long as it's not slathered in barbecue sauce or anything spicy. Grilled veggies such as broccoli and carrots are OK, too. Avoid ribs and pork chops; the small or oddly shaped bones can cause choking or obstructions. Same for corn on the cob. And anything on skewers is a serious hazard. Keep trash out of your dog's reach, and alert guests not to give Baxter anything he shouldn't have.

Meet the parlor panther

Have you met the Bombay? The black cats with copper eyes, sometimes nicknamed "parlor panthers," are smart and affable, enjoying their owners' company as well as putting out the welcome sign for visitors. Bombays often enjoy walking on a leash or playing fetch with small balls. They love attention and are frequently found adorning a lap.

Starter pets

Goldfish are popular "starter pets" for kids, but they need more and better care than they're typically given. First rule of fin club: Don't keep goldfish in bowls. They need a good-sized aquarium, one that holds 75 to 100 gallons. Surprised? Goldfish can grow to be well over a foot long, and it's a myth that goldfish kept in small bowls or tanks will stay small. So give them space. They also need a good water filtration system and frequent partial water changes to keep their aquatic environment clean. Finally, don't overfeed them. Give only the amount they can finish eating in a couple of minutes, once or twice a day.