Friday, January 11, 2008

Dog Day Afternoon

This is Vegas. Part Australian Shepherd and part Border Collie, Vegas runs like the wind, herds other dogs (and humans) and is generally smarter than most people I know.

However, Vegas is still a dog, and as a dog, she tends to get pretty dirty, especially in the winter. You know those little ice balls that gather on the bottom of dogs' feet after a romp in the snow? She collects those like Elizabeth Taylor collects husbands.

All of this ice, the salt that goes with it, mud and dirt wreak havoc on the inside of Vegas' human's house - and on his carpet. That being said, there are a multitude of preventative measures he (and you, if you're a dog owner) can take to keep his home looking like Vegas really doesn't live there.

The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) recommends that you vacuum daily in high traffic or pet areas. I know, it seems like a lot of time spend vacuuming. But because vacuuming is the easiest and most effective way to keep carpets clean, it makes sense. Especially for pet owners.

To protect your dog's feet as well as your carpet during winter months, purchase a set of boots for your dog to wear during walks. Canis Major Publications, the publisher of Dog Owner's Guide (DOG), a newspaper for pet and show dog owners, says that many dogs don't like to wear them though -- and really, who can blame them? Instead, these experts suggest washing your dog's paws in warm water, then drying them thoroughly after walks. This not only protects your pooch, but your carpet as well.

As for those pesky ice balls, make sure your dog's feet are properly groomed, trimming hair between paw pads and keeping nails down to a minimum. These tips ensure that your dog has enough traction during walks, and prevents ice from packing in between her toes. And then melting onto your floor.

If, perchance, your puppy just happens to traipse rock salt across your carpet, never fear - the Salt Institute has a few suggestions. First, vacuum the dry, excess salt from your carpet. Then apply cool to warm water and a small amount of carpet shampoo and allow it to dissolve the salt deposit. Blot the spot, then rinse with clear, lukewarm water. Blot again, and if the solution didn't work, repeat the process. If this isn't effective, try a mixture of vinegar and water, rinse and blot.

When the snow and ice melt, and mud has become the carpet covering du jour, it doesn't have to stain. Wear-Dated suggests letting mud dry, breaking it up with the handle of a knife, then vacuuming up the dry pieces. Try applying a detergent solution to the spot, then blot with a white paper towel to work the solution into the stain. Continue until the spot is removed, then rinse with clean water in a spray bottle. Next, blot to remove excess moisture, spray lightly with water, cover with a pad of paper towels, and weigh them down with a brick (or other heavy object) and allow to dry. If this doesn't work, check out other options here -- and keep in mind that you may need to contact a certified professional cleaner.

Having a dog in your world makes it a better place to be - just don't let your carpet lose out on the experience. Vegas and her friends will thank you in the long run.

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