Dogs make the grade

Dear Readers: DOGS are intelligent, but just how smart they are is now coming to light. Experts have found that a dog can be as smart as a 2-year-old child!

Dogs can learn upward of 250 words, similar to a 2-year-old. The smartest breeds are border collies, poodles and German shepherds; we’ve taught these particular breeds to be sage, the experts believe. Hound dogs, like beagles, tend to score lower.

Dogs understand social structure, too (they are pack animals), and they even show moods such as happiness and anger, but not so much complex emotions.

Experts agree: Dogs are smarter than we thought they are! — Heloise

PET PAL

Dear Readers: Catherine emailed a picture of her adorable kitten, Moon. Brown-and-black-striped, Moon has a sweet white muzzle and chest, and he’s playing with his favorite squeaky toy.

Catherine adopted Moon from Animal Care Services here in San Antonio; check your shelter for a fabulous, fun and furry friend!

To see Moon and our other Pet Pals, visit www.Heloise.com and click on “Pet of the Week.” — Heloise

CANE AND ABLE

Dear Heloise: My cane is good for more than stability: I use it to push my laundry basket from the bedroom to my laundry area, to pull the clothes from the back of the dryer, and to move clothes if they get stuck in the washer’s agitator.

I also use it to smooth out the blankets when making my bed. I use the crook end to pull things out from under the bed or chair.

I even have been known to shake it at a naughty grandchild! Love your column. — Big Red, via email

Readers, the primary importance is your balance. Make sure you can do these tasks safely. — Heloise

THE NO-FLUSH LIST

Dear Heloise: I save store flyers and fold a few pages in my purse and also store some under my sink. Sure saves money on toilet paper for wrapping unmentionables. — Sara, via email

Glad you mentioned it! Yes, these items should never be flushed. What else is on the “No-Flush List”? Dental floss, facial tissue, paper towels, “flushable” wipes, cotton balls and swabs. — Heloise

SPILLED PILL

Dear Heloise: I found an old pill in the bottom of my purse. I wasn’t going to take the pill anyway, but there was a number on it. I put that number into a search engine online, and it told me the name of the medication. Good to know! — Tamara W. in Salt Lake City

Always be cautious of medication that you’re not sure of the expiration date. — Heloise

GIVE IT THE RUB

Dear Heloise: My fine hair flies out with static electricity when I brush it. I’ve found that rubbing my hair with a fabric softener sheet makes it more manageable. — Dr. Mary J., Katy, Texas

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Dear Heloise: I’ve TRAVELED a lot over the past 50 years, and I’m glad I did. It’s been educational, fun and rewarding in so many ways.

However, I hear people today say, “Someday we’ll get to Paris, after the kids grow up” or “Someday I want to see the Grand Canyon.” Why wait? Save up and go. Pick a day of departure and work toward that day. Put money aside, get the grandparents to baby-sit the kids, take your vacation time and go. If you don’t, “someday” you’ll regret it. — Leo K., Naples, Fla.

Leo, I agree. There’s so much to see and do in this world. — Heloise

WALK A MILE OR TWO

Dear Heloise: In a recent letter, Claire H. was right about walking. It’s the easiest form of exercise, and inexpensive. I’m 71 years young, and my goal this year is to walk/run/jog at least 3,000 miles. Through April, I’m on target to hit 3,400 miles if I keep up my current pace. My weight has gone from 212 pounds to 177 pounds, and I feel great! If I can do it, so can you. Set reachable daily goals and just do it. — Dan C., Anaheim, Calif.

PLACE MATS FOR KIDS

Dear Heloise: During special occasion such as Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, I found a way to keep children out of the kitchen and keep them busy and quiet. I buy thin, white cardboard at a craft store and cut it up into place mat sizes. I write each child’s name in the upper right-hand corner, then hand out markers, crayons and pencils, and have each of them draw their idea of the holiday on the place mat. Some draw a snowman or a turkey or pilgrims — whatever they think represents the holiday. Then I use those place mats on the children’s table, with each child sitting at his or her place mat. The children love it! — Amy W., Lincoln, Neb.

Amy, what a great idea! The children are included in the festivities in a very happy and memorable way. — Heloise

DIFFICULT SITUATION

Dear Heloise: My fiance and I are getting married over the Christmas holiday in an evening wedding by candlelight, where cocktails will be served. The problem is that we would rather not have infants and toddlers at this event, mainly because of the hour and the inclusion of alcohol, but several people we know have children in that age range. How can we gracefully ask them to leave the little ones home with a sitter? — Lauren R., via email

P.S. No, we don’t hate children.

Lauren, this is going to be a touchy subject with some families, but here are a few suggestions: First, on both the outer and inner envelope, write only the names of those invited, such as “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.” If the invitation does not say “plus family” or list the names of the children, then they are NOT included. If, on the return card, they add “and children,” call them and explain that children are not invited due to the hour of the wedding and lack of accommodations for children. — Heloise

EDITOR’S NOTE: Send your great money-saving or timesaving hint to to Heloise at P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, Fax to 1-210-HELOISE, or email to Heloise@Heloise.com. She can’t answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in her column.