“Would you please stop losing?” I beg Luke, our 55 pound dog mix. “Please keep your prodigious fur to yourself.”
Luke and I often have this conversation as I deal with the apricot puffy balls of fur that puff up around the house on a daily basis. “I know you can’t help it,” I add, “but shit!”
“He only blows his coat twice a year,” my husband, DC, says, trying to put a light spin on the situation.
“Yeah,” I said, “Once from January to June, and again from July to December.”
“How do you handle this?” I asked my dog owner friend Paula recently while visiting her home.
“With Marvin the Martian,” she said, referring to her Roomba robot vacuum.
I knew about these high tech vacuum cleaners, but never wanted one. The idea of a robot wandering randomly around the house sounds even less appealing than having dog fur everywhere.
“He only cleans when I tell him to,” she said. “I schedule his activity times from my phone.”
Back home, I tell DC about Marvin. The next day, DC, an intuitive man, calls me from Costco, where he is faced with a display of Roombas for sale. “Which model do you want? ” he asks.
That afternoon our new Roomba, Rosie, named after the housekeeper in “The Jetsons”, is connected to the house Wi-Fi and ready to work. “Run,” I say and happily press my phone’s touchpad where it says “Vacuum Everywhere.” Rosie makes a cheerful wake-up noise, disengages from her dock and soon moves across the floor and goes under chairs, beds and sofas where no vacuum cleaner has gone before.
Fur management is just one of many household issues that pet owners must deal with when bringing furry friends into the fold. And studies show that the number of homes doing just that is on the rise. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, one in five American households have adopted a pet during the pandemic. Today, 53% of American households have a dog and 36% have a cat, according to a report published last month by Spots.com.
That’s a lot of fur theft. But in addition to repelling fluff, here’s what pet owners should consider when finding or creating a home for Fido or Fluffy:
◼️ Get the HOA OK. Not all communities allow pets. Some homeowners and landlord associations limit the number and size of pets a landlord or renter can have, and in some cases exclude certain breeds. Ask about pet policies before buying or renting. Some HOAs also have fence restrictions, which could limit the type and height of fences, or prohibit adding a visible fence at all.
◼️ Choose floors that are pet-friendly. Hard floors, especially tile, stone, vinyl, or wood (provided you wipe up spills promptly) are best for pets because they’re easier to clean. Carpeting, while cozy, can trap pet odors, fur, fleas and dander, and is more prone to damage from chewing, claws and stains.
◼️ Add an escape hatch. Pet doors allow those who aren’t home all day to let their pets out. Now that more workers are returning to the office, pet door sales are on the rise, industry insiders say. Doors are available in a variety of sizes, standard or electronic (triggered by pet’s collar) and can fit through any wall or door leading outside. Although pet doors sell for as little as $50, consider paying more before drilling a hole in your wall. Inexpensive pet doors often need to have their flaps replaced and can offer poor temperature control. High-end dog doors have better insulation, stronger seals to control temperature extremes, better security features and shutters that are likely to outlast the house, says PlexiDor spokeswoman Maria Lewis, who has been manufacturing premium dog doors in America since 1985, and have doors selling for between $298 and $1,985, plus installation.
◼️ Install a secure fence. If your house has a yard, make sure your dog can enjoy it safely. Install a good fence that your pooch can’t jump or dig under. Electric fences work well for keeping pets in the yard, but they won’t keep other animals out.
◼️ Survey the neighborhood. A house or apartment with easy access to walking trails or a dog park is a real bonus for dogs and their owners.
◼️ Find a dog sitter. If you work outside the home or travel, find a friend or service that can care for your pet while you’re away and can provide tours, walks, or boarding. You can find dog walkers and sitters in your area through online services like Wag! and Rover. Younger, athletic dogs can also benefit from the socialization and exercise available through play care programs.
◼️ Build pet care into the budget. Pets can give love freely, but they are far from free. Food, treats, toys, vet care, grooming and dog sitting all add up, and that’s not counting the robot vacuum.
Marni Jameson is the author of six books on home and lifestyle, including “What to do with everything you own to leave the legacy you want”.