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DEAR HELOISE: I see so many people driving with their dogs sitting right next to them, sometimes called "riding shotgun." This cannot be safe. Am I right?

-- Concerned Canine Commentator

DEAR READER: You're correct to be concerned. The dog must be properly restrained in the vehicle. In the front seat, the dog is too close to the airbag. Airbag deployment can seriously injure or even kill the dog.

The dog should be held in the backseat, in a carrier or even a seatbelt. To get the dog accustomed to riding in the backseat, use treats and keep rides short. Ask your veterinarian for more advice about riding in the car with the dog.

DEAR HELOISE: I saw a gorgeous dog in a store, but he was wearing a service dog vest, so I knew not to pet him, or even to ask the owner about the dog.

When he's wearing his vest, he's working. He can't be distracted by people petting him.

-- Kevin, age 11,

in West Virginia

DEAR READER: Great job. We are all animal lovers here, but service dogs aren't pets. And you're right; don't bother them.

DEAR READERS: Let's take a look at the symptoms of covid-19, the flu and the common cold:

• Loss of smell and/or taste is common with covid, but rare with the flu and the cold.

• Fever and chills are common with covid and the flu, but not with a cold (not everyone with the flu will have a fever).

• Dry coughing is common with covid and the flu, and slightly with a cold.

• Shortness of breath? Sometimes with covid, but not with the flu or a cold.

• Headaches? Sometimes with covid, common with the flu, and rare with a cold.

• Sneezing? Not with covid or the flu, but common with a cold.

And finally,

• Nausea and diarrhea? Sometimes with covid and the flu, but not with a cold.

DEAR HELOISE: Why does the dog follow me into the bathroom? I'd like some privacy.

-- Ronald R. in Ohio

DEAR READER: Believe it or not, this is a pack instinct. The dog is protecting you. Don't be annoyed or alarmed -- he's looking out for you.

DEAR HELOISE: I use a sandwich bag filled with hot water to melt my iced-over car windshield when I park outside.

-- Rebecca W. in Colorado

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

[email protected]

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