Molly and Frost on Spring Cleaning

This article first appeared in the Island Word, spring, 2010.  It’s just for fun.  Used by permission (from Molly and Frost).

Serena and Monika have been having a rather ruff time of it lately, with the extra-long winter, seasonal colds, and now our shedding coats to contend with. Spring means mud to dogs, and for some reason that appears to trouble them as well. They need a break. With the return of longer days, an hour saved at the computer is an hour gained for the park. So we’ve given them the month off of column writing, filling in with our canine advice on spring cleaning and decorating for the season.

If there is a theme to home decorating this year, it is Entropy. A true monument to chaos may be above the means of some, but if you have pre-teen children, dense fir, the energy of a Border Collie and the oversized paws of an Australian Shepherd, you can come close to perfection without knocking yourself out.

The first rule of household entropy is to blur the boundaries of indoors and outdoors. Bring mud in; take chewy toys out. Bring sticks in; take bones out. Bury them, and start over. Bring mud in….

Focus on decorating below the knees. What catches a dog’s eye is what’s on the floor. Bouncy tennis balls are a must-have accessory: especially in tough economic times, these classics never go out of style. A few bones scattered about complete the look, and will make any four-pawed visitor feel more casual and welcome. Note: humans should wear shoes to avoid injuries.

As for floor coverings, while the humans have taken to hard flooring for easy mop-ups, we miss the cushy, odorous, full-sensory experience of carpeting. A good compromise is carpet on the staircase, where we can take our extra-nice bits for a good long chew-and-drool session while surveying the living area from a slightly raised vantage point. Hard flooring is fine for everywhere else, but don’t be afraid to allow it to acquire some scratches and stains. If the choice is between scratching the floor or clipping the toenails, it’s no contest. An unscratched floor is…unnatural.

A bonus to having dense fur is that it functions to collect all other loose floor dust into neat clumps resembling small animals that migrate into the corners and around the edges of rooms. These are particularly comforting when we are otherwise alone in the house. As we like to say, “If you’ve got furballs, you’ve got company”. They also make good “practice pets” for very young humans who have yet to develop their canine-friendly social skills.

Did somebody say vacuum cleaner? No, no. Bad Vacuum Cleaner. Noisy. Scary. Put it away—far, far away.

That’s better. Now, on to the kitchen. Don’t like bits of food and gravy in the dishwater, or sticking to the sides of your dishwasher? Here’s a tip from our house to yours: The Doggy Prewash Cycle. We lick the plates, then our people load them into the dishwasher to be sterilized. A similar principle works for cleaning up most organic spills on the floor. Milk, gravy, meat juice, raw eggs, and just about anything else from the refrigerator is no problem when you have two long, efficient tongues on hand to tackle the mess. Indeed, our humans often wonder how dogless households handle such problems. Here it’s nice and easy, and there is time left over to get to the park before the sun sets. Everybody wins.

Well, that’s about it! We could change the bedding and put clothing away, but nobody sees those parts of the house, anyway! With the front room and the kitchen are ready for surprise company, we are ready for the park!

Molly is an energetic Border Collie/Fence Climber cross from the SPCA, who specializes in retrieving yellow tennis balls and ten-year-old children. Frost is a rehabilitated show dog with big brown eyes, soft paws, a sterling pedigree and a devotion to “protecting” us from all other dogs in the park. Writing is a secondary vocation for them, ranking far behind their first commitment of being housedogs and playmates to the Grünberg-Patterson family.

Dr. Serena Patterson is a Registered Psychologist and Monika Grünberg is a Registered Clinical Counsellor in private practice. If you have problems other than household maintenance, you can find them at at Grünberg Patterson Counselling and Psychological Services in Comox. Failing that, try the park!