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Hints From Heloise: Service dog aren’t just for mobility issues

Dear Heloise: You shine a light on service dogs quite a bit; allow me to tell you about mine.

When people think of service dogs, they probably think of a dog who helps a blind person or someone who has mobility issues and uses a wheelchair. And, yes, those dogs are out there. But my dog, Stella, helps me with my diabetes!

Stella is trained to detect hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. When my blood sugar is low, the smell of my breath changes and I can start to perspire a lot.

She will sense this and prompt me with a paw or a nudge to treat my blood sugar while I am still able to do so.

She can also sense if I start to feel lightheaded and act like I might faint, also symptoms, among others, of hypoglycemia.

— Cayla R. in Illinois

Cayla R. in Illinois: I’m so happy you have Stella, a diabetic service dog, also called a DSD. Here’s the thing — a dog’s sense of smell is acute, to say the least.

A human has around 5 million olfactory cells; a dog can have as many as 220 million! This means the dog’s sense of smell can be 1,000 times sharper than a person’s. This is necessary to detect those changes in the smell of your breath and/or the smell of your sweat, which may indicate your blood sugar is dropping.

Send us a picture of Stella, and we will make her Pet of the Week on!

Dear Readers: Meet Abby the Tabby, perched and ready for birdwatching in her cute sweater. A cat in clothes! Jane H. in San Antonio fashioned a sweater for Abby from the sleeve of an old sweatshirt. She tolerated it well! To see our other Pet Pals, visit and click on “Pet of the Week.”

Dear Heloise: Reverse osmosis, what is it? The label on my bottle of water states the water comes from the public water supply (I assume that means the tap) and it's purified using reverse osmosis and enhanced with minerals for taste. Please decode.

— Gerry B. in D.C.

Gerry B. in D.C.: Here’s a Heloise high-five for reading those labels! Let’s look at bottled water. The “public water supply” is, yes, the municipal water from your city, but not straight from the tap.

“Reverse osmosis” is a filtering or purification process that won’t allow anything larger than a water molecule to pass through.

The minerals used for taste are typically calcium chloride, sodium bicarbonate and magnesium sulfate, but can vary.

Dear Heloise: I heard the most inspiring quote from a dancer at an audition: "Dance is about creating shapes with your body."

As we are hopefully coming out of quarantine, I'm getting ready to dance, express myself and create some shapes with my body!

— Kara S. in Pennsylvania

Dear Heloise: When I peel a sticky note off the pad, I peel it from the side instead of from the bottom. This helps the note to lie flat on the paper it's then stuck too, instead of the bottom curling up.

— R.O. in New York

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to

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