Ask Heloise

Quick hints for a new year

Dear Readers: You may have some downtime right now — use it to get organized for the new year. Here are some hints:

∫ Clean out a couple of drawers in the kitchen or bedroom. Donate unused things, and throw out anything broken or worn.

∫ Check the fluid levels and maintenance schedule for your car.

∫ Change the batteries in your smoke detectors and alarms.

∫ Replace any burnt-out light bulbs.

— Heloise

Fireworks and pets

Dear Readers: Fireworks safety and pets — it’s that time of year. Fireworks noises can be terrifying for dogs and cats. Our furry felines typically will go off and find a safe place to hide.

Dogs are different. Taking the dog for a long walk before a fireworks show is a good idea. Feed Fido, and hopefully he will drift off to sleep.

If he’s awake, create a safe haven for him — close all blinds, and turn on the TV or music to help muffle outside sounds.

If your dog is prone to anxiety, let your veterinarian know. There are meds that can be prescribed.

— Heloise

Pet pal

Dear Readers: Linda L. emailed a picture of Maggie, 10 years old and a terrier mix; Molly, 11 years old and a dachshund-poodle mix (a doodle); and Sadie, 2 years old and a poodle mix. Linda says they are all strays that her family adopted, and they can’t imagine life without them!

They are ready for the new year! To see these three and our other Pet Pals, visit and click on “Pet of the Week.” Email your funny and furry friends to

— Heloise

House shoes

Dear Heloise: I have a simple hint for the reader who sent reasons to wear shoes in the house: To keep bacteria, chemicals and dirt out of the carpet and flooring, you need a pair of shoes you wear only inside.

My feet get cold, too. I wear orthotic inserts, and my feet just feel better in indoor athletic shoes.

— Mindy in Omaha, Neb.

Dog dish

Dear Heloise: Regarding cleaning the dog’s dish with vinegar: The bowls do get yucky after a spell. Vinegar works well, but how about the liquid in a jar of pickles? I recycle it (more than once), and it is already paid for!

— A Reader in Trenton, N.J.

Well, pickle juice does have vinegar in it. However, vinegar is pretty darn cheap and has a multitude of uses around the house! Would you like to learn my favorites? It’s easy! Visit to order my handy pamphlet, or send a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. The liquid in the pickle jar is called brine, and it contains water, salt, vinegar and flavorings.

— Heloise

Keep off the grass

Dear Heloise: To maintain my lawn during a hard freeze in the wintertime, no one is allowed on it. Driving or walking on the lawn when it is frozen may kill the grass. In the spring, you may see unwanted bare spots.

It’s certainly hard to keep everybody off!

— John H. in Cincinnati