Dear Readers: The school year is well underway, and everyone has settled into a routine. How about adding to the learning environment? Experts agree: a pet in the classroom can elevate children’s learning and understanding of the world around them.

Pets help students learn math (their weight, how much to feed them), entice the students into studying science and geography, and will help kids develop sensitivity and responsibility.

Pets in the classroom lessen the students’ stress level, bond the class together and even improve attendance!

What kind of pet would work for your classroom? A mouse, gerbil, betta fish and hermit crab are all good choices.

Check out for grant opportunities for financial support in purchasing the pet and maintaining its care. — Heloise

P.S. And of course, if the pet passes away, that’s an important lesson, also.

Pet pal

Dear Readers: Meet Nancy L.’s Polly, in Simi Valley, Californina Polly’s a 5-year-old ragdoll, and a beautiful, wonderful kitty.

She loves to go “bye-bye car,” but not when she winds up at the veterinarian! She hid from Dr. H. behind his computer, but alas, he found her.

To see Polly and our other Pet Pals, visit and click on “Pet of the Week.” Do you have a funny and furry friend? Email a picture and description to — Heloise

Dryer fire

Dear Heloise: A neighbor of ours left her clothes dryer on when she went to sleep. At about 2 a.m., we heard an explosion, and then firetrucks. The dryer caught fire because the vent to the outside of the house had too much lint in it.

Please make sure that both inner and outer vents are regularly cleaned. All that lint can ignite very quickly, and in the case of our neighbor, she lost everything. Be safe, not sorry. — Mommajor in Barrington, New Hampshire

A great reminder! — Heloise

Slippery squirrel

Dear Heloise: We have the funniest situation with our bird feeder and a very persistent squirrel. This squirrel is determined to get into our bird feeder, and he climbs the pole, hangs off and plants his face in the feeder. Nothing seemed to deter him.

Then my husband came up with a brilliant idea. He greased the pole with petroleum jelly. Now, one step up and down he slides. Over and over he tries. Over and over he slides. We can see him looking longingly at the feeder trying to figure out what happened. — Eveleen S., The Villages, Florida

Persistent little bugger, huh? — Heloise

Great gift

Dear Readers: Stuck for a gift for someone? How about a box of stationery and a roll of stamps? Encourage the art of letter writing! — Heloise

Baby wipes

Dear Heloise: I keep a small package of baby wipes in my bag. How many times have I used the ladies’ room somewhere and there wasn’t toilet tissue in the holders? My stash saved the day! — Annaclaire in Waterbury, Conneticut

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to

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