“Would you please stop losing?” I beg Luke, our 55 pound dog mix. “Please keep your stupendous fur to yourself.”
Luke and I have this conversation often, as I deal daily with the apricot puffy balls of fur that swell around the house, gathering under chairs and in corners. As I plead, he looks at me with emotion with those bassett eyes. “I know you can’t help it,” I add, “but damn it!”
Anyone who has lost pets knows fur patrol is a second career.
“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.”
During a recent visit to my friend Paula, I asked her how she did it. Paula has two shedding dogs and somehow a spotless, furless home.
“With Marvin the Martian,” she says, referring to her Roomba robot vacuum. “He only cleans when I tell him to. I schedule his activity times from my phone. When he’s finished or needs a break, he returns to his little dock, empties his trash can and reloads.
Back home, I tell DC about Marvin. The next day, DC, an intuitive man, calls me from Costco, where he finds himself in front of a display of Roombas. “Which model do you want? ” he asks.
That afternoon our new Roomba, named Rosie after the maid in “The Jetsons”, is connected to the house Wi-Fi and ready to work. “Run,” I say and happily tap my phone’s touchpad where it says “Vacuum Everywhere.”
Rosie makes a cheerful wake-up noise, disengages from her dock and quickly moves across the floor and under chairs, beds and sofas where no vacuum cleaner has gone before. I feel like I’ve finally entered the 21st century.
Fur management is just one of many household issues that pet owners face when bringing furry friends into the fold – and studies show that the number of people who do just that is increasing. 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.
But in addition to repelling fur, here’s what pet owners should consider:
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 have a pet. The gates are available in a variety of sizes, standard or electronic (triggered by the 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. According to Maria Lewis, spokesperson for PlexiDor, which has been manufacturing high-end dog doors since 1985, and whose doors sell 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 dog cannot jump or dig over. 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 plus 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 pre-screened 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, dog grooming, and dog sitting all add up, not to mention the robot vacuum.
Marni Jameson is the author of six home and lifestyle books, including “Downsizing the Family Home – What to Save, What to Let Go”. Contact her at www.marnijameson.com.