Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Protecting a rug from dog smell

It's a challenge faced by millions of homeowners:  How do you keep a dog in your home without having your rugs and furniture picking up a parfum du chien - that characteristic stinky dog smell?  And how do you manage the dirt that they bring in from outdoors?  It doesn't matter how often you groom your dog - these problems will manifest.  We shampoo and shave our dog routinely and we still can't thwart Mother Nature, which designed dogs to stink, shed, and be dirty. 

Two of my recent posts (mostly this one but also this one) described area rugs we mounted on the walls of our home.  But we have other rugs that are presented more conventionally, as in, actually placed on the floor. 

One in particular gets heavy daily use by both humans and canine - the one in our living room that bridges the gap between our couch and our TV.   It's a New Zealand wool number, very well made and thick, weighing in massively at over one hundred pounds.  I watched it circulating on high-end retail websites where it was offered for almost $2,000 before I picked it up on Overstock for around $400 almost three years ago.  And as much as I love our "inside dog", I don't want her to ruin that rug with dirt and dog smell.  Overall, my house tends to be a bit cluttered, but it's never dirty.  I'm a low-grade clean freak. 

We tried a number of approaches to protect that rug for daily use, but all of our initial ideas failed. 
  • First we tried buying a second thin cotton rug that we could roll out over the top of it for her to lay on.  The problem there was that it would never stay in place and we tended to trip over the edges, given that it was a rug sitting on a rug.
  • We also tried laying an oversized towel (known in the retail world as a "bath sheet") on the rug, but this resulted in the same problem.
  • I ruled out any kind of plastic cover as simply being too ugly and too sterile.  We are not in 1970 any more (or Kansas either).
  • I tried using a cotton bed sheet, but the same problem happened again.  It would shift, roll, and bunch up every time we walked across it, creating a huge maintenance hassle.
I finally hit upon a solution by using a color-coordinated blanket - but not just any blanket.  It had to be one of those "plush" or "microfiber" blankets because they are mildly stretchy and really "grippy" - they furnish a lot of friction when placed on a low-pile wool rug.  Therefore, they do a much better job of staying in place.
That's our fifteen-year-old Mayo couch whose back pillows I talked about updating in this post.  The blanket is this $23.88 "plush" Mainstays product from Walmart in a full bed size, which means it's six feet wide.  The rug is eight feet wide so it leaves a bit of border showing on each side.  That's OK because the dog does not position herself near the edges. 

Obviously we don't allow the dog onto any of our furniture.  Do you suppose a fifteen-year-old couch would look that good that if a dog were allowed onto it??  Not a chance.   
In the pic above, you'll notice the other advantage of using this kind of blanket:  it can be tucked under the top couch cushions like this, which also helps to hold it in place.  Our dog usually sleeps with her body pressed up against the base of the couch, so dog smell would be rubbing onto that part of the couch if I didn't protect it along with the area rug. 

When we have guests over, we can temporarily pull up the blanket for a more formal look.  But the blanket is so well-fitted to the rug both in terms of dimensions and color coordination that sometimes people drop by to visit and they don't even notice that there is a blanket on the floor. 
Long photo exposure: the dog is still, but the tail be a-waggin', making for a blurry back end.
And oh my gosh, that blanket gets filthy.  I pull it up every couple of weeks to put it in the washing machine, and I am always appalled at how filthy it becomes.  If you've ever worn some of the new "microfiber" clothing, then you probably already know what a dirt magnet that type of fabric is.  The fabric is so porous that it just sucks up everything it comes in contact with - dirt, body odor, skin oils - sucks it all up like a sponge.  In almost three years now, I can't tell you how many times I've washed that blanket, but the rug itself remains clean and odor-free.  Ditto for the bottom of the couch. 

Some clever bugger is going to read this post and start marketing a microfiber product specifically designed to serve this pet odor-control purpose.  They'll advertise it on late-night TV as the latest consumer miracle product.  But don't be fooled - a cheap Walmart plush blanket will work just as well. 

And why would the dog be so inclined to press her ever-stinky body up against the base of the couch? Well, part of it derives from the animal instinct to seek the protection of confinement. But she has another more modern-day motivation as well.
Every once in a while, a mysterious arm will descend from on high, and a belly rub will be forthcoming.  That's definitely worth sticking close to the couch for. 

Post Update:  OK, here's a strange development.  After I took those pics above, I noticed that the blanket was a bit worn, and the dog's toenails had ripped a couple of small holes in it.  Time for a replacement, so as I was out at Walmart today, I attempted to buy a replacement, only to find that they have apparently discontinued the "full" size (which is 72" x 90" - the correct fit to have in front of many couches, including ours).  Choices in Walmart are now either 66" x 90" or 90" x 90", neither of which will work for my application.

And apparently Walmart is not alone in shedding the true "full" linen size option.  Amazon didn't have a source for one either.  And I've seen this repeatedly:
Since when does a full-sized mattress = a queen-sized mattress?!
Screengrabbed from an Overstock posting similar to this one
So this highly useful item is apparently now off the consumer market.  As near as I can tell, the only recourse at this point are institutional suppliers such as this one or this one.  I'll be ordering one of those in the near future. 

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