This week’s ‘Stare of the Dog’ will doubtless have the non-dog owning fraternity laughing bellicose wails of derision. A laughter made at the expense of ‘saps like me who have probably become way too soft of late. It is a story of canine comfort and refinement, as I cast an eye over the expensive litany of battered beds and blankets used and abused by young Dudley.
Initially housed in a puppy crate, Dud’s first nod to life’s fineries was, on paper at least, little more than a strip of carpet on the floor of his cage. In practice however, the half metre squared strip of grey, fluffy material manufactured by Vet Bed was a lot more. Much tougher than other similar offerings, Dudley’s piece of grey shag pile luxury did stand up robustly to some pretty wild behaviour. Often subjected to his need to assert dominance, poor old Mr Vet Bed had more dry humps than a dehydrated camel. Initially indestructible and confidently advertised as such, the sliver of comfort that Dud came to recognise as his very own portable home did some travelling too. Racking up more miles than a Rolling Stones roadie, it was often seen trailing from his mouth as he moved stealthily about the house like a ninja. In the end though, tough as it was, rips and tears began to show before it eventually gave up the fight and was binned.
Adult beds followed, the best of which being a great hunk of formed and moulded plastic. Acquired second-hand from a relative, it naturally came with assuring bite marks, every exposed corner and edge bearing scars, each one a cherished memory of a former inhabitant. Old duvets and bed sheets were pressed into service at no extra cost to ensure that Dudley would have a little bit of luxury. And as with the Vet Bed before it, anything not nailed down went on manoeuvres. Unlike the Vet Bed however, a full size single duvet complete with linen sheeting retains a greater and more potent canine fragrance as it travels about the place. Travel it did too, skilfully navigated around chairs and cabinets by a dextrous Dudley as he strutted before us in triumphant fashion like a hirsute Napoleon. The resulting miasma of pestilence that followed each wafting ‘pass by’ was more than enough to hasten the decision to re-think his sleeping arrangements.
Way too lazy to be constantly washing and refreshing this ‘duvet of death,’ it was decided to find a solution on the high street. In the end, a ‘day bed’ was bought for him to use in the lounge, whilst also retaining his other more nasally aggressive slumber pit for use in his bedroom. If nothing else, I suspected it could come in handy as another security deterrent in case of burglars entering via the back door. Taking its place inside the house would be a new, clean and more importantly, cleanable piece of real estate for Dudley to wheeze and wallow about in at his leisure. The concept of a ‘day bed,’ I had to admit, did conjure up images of our spoilt specimen pacing around the coffee table, clothed in a paisley patterned silk robe and pulling long and indulgent draws from a cigarette holder in an insouciant manner. Amusing though the thought was, in reality, things were very different.
Initially a success, Dudley’s lounge bed was kept clean and dry and so offered no more of an affront to our noses than the rest of his brown and hairy ensemble. Over time however, successive day beds fell apart, and always in the same fashion. First a rip or a tear, the odd stray thread, a gradual process that ended with each one billowing out plumes of fabric like Victorian chimney stacks from the industrial age. In terms of where the responsibility lay for the failings of these products, it’s difficult to say with certainty. I suspect a good lawyer and a soft judge would have left Dudley with no case to answer. Knowing differently, I prefer to offer a more equitable interpretation of culpability, a perfect storm of cheap and shoddy manufacturing allied to the repeated interferences and grinding molars of a bored and frisky Labrador.
Latterly, the hound lies prostrate and lifeless, entombed within the one-foot high kidney shaped perimeter of his latest doggy den as designed by Sophie Allport. Judging by the state of the amorphous brown lump spilling clumsily over the sides of it like dirty washing cascading out of a laundry basket, I can report initial customer satisfaction levels as being stratospheric, at least if body language is anything to go by. Either way, the loud and hollow boom of Dudley’s snoring suggests there’s no need to keep the receipt too long.
And apart from a rather natty design featuring dozens of rather underfed looking Labradors, its best-selling point without doubt is the tiny, square, laundry label attached to it which simply reads, ‘all parts machine washable.’