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DEAR READERS: The following letter comes from April A., in San Antonio. She runs a rescue group for stray dogs, and she has seen animals in extremely poor conditions over the years. She is advocating for people to step up and foster a dog or cat, in a healthy and safe environment. Read on:

DEAR HELOISE: There are certain reasons rescued animals need foster "parents." One is so we have somewhere safe and normal to house the dogs, and so they can learn to be treated like family members, and to prep them for their next step -- a permanent family. We need someone to show care, love and compassion that the dogs may not have had before.

We need someone to help them learn to trust and have positive interaction with humans. If you think that leaving a dog isolated with only a bowl of food and water is fostering, then fostering is not for you. That is abuse and neglect.

-- April, San Antonio

DEAR READER: Thanks for writing in. Readers, if you have time, space and compassion, consider fostering a dog or a cat. Many times, the rescue group will provide medical care, food and other supplies. If you can't foster, consider a monetary donation.

DEAR HELOISE: I dislike plastic that stains red, such as cutting boards that I have cut red onions or red peppers on. Also, rubber scrapers that I've used with spaghetti sauce get stained orange as well.

I dried my pots, pans and plastic items on my sidewalk outside my door in the sunshine. Not only did the things get dry quickly, but also the red stains disappeared in a matter of about an hour or so. The sun had bleached out the stain -- like brand new. Perhaps your readers can give this solar bleaching method a try.

-- Doug Z.,

Costa Mesa, Calif.

DEAR HELOISE: I have noticed that several restaurants I support are hiring people to sanitize the tables and chairs between customers. My question: Should we be giving these folks who are sanitizing a cash tip?

-- Nancy in Ohio

DEAR READER: Great question. Usually when someone provides a service, a tip is appropriate. But be sure to ask restaurant management about its policy.

DEAR HELOISE: Summertime in the South brings love bugs. The water hose and used dryer sheets will take the bugs off your car safely.

-- John, via email

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

Heloise@Heloise.com

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