Ask the Hippie, Vol. 2, Issue 1

OK, so technically, nobody asked the hippie this question, but if you own a dog, you will probably thank me for this sooner or later:

Q. How do I remove dog vomit (or other pet-related stains) from carpet?

A. This is a truly disgusting question. But dogs will, on occasion, do truly disgusting things, and some of the things they do are things a proper British lady like Barbara Woodhouse simply isn’t going to mention when she’s dispensing advice on caring for canine housemates.

One disgusting thing my dogs like to do — and this is something they generally do only when the weather gets really cold, although I’ve yet to figure out why — is to eat each other’s … erm … byproducts.

Another thing they like to do is come inside and throw up afterwards.

I think that if you are a dog, this is considered performance art.

If so, Scout is the canine equivalent of Yoko Ono. And this is her signature performance — kind of a rat terrier’s answer to “Cut Piece.”

This is not the first time Scout has pulled this stunt. This is not even the umpteenth time she has pulled this stunt. But this is the first time she has pulled this stunt on carpet. Up until today, she has confined her efforts to private, invitation-only performances in her crate. But this evening, she apparently felt it was time to unveil her special talent in a more public setting: the living room.

I don’t know why she picked tonight to do it. Was it a political statement? A bit of scandalous, yet thought-provoking, commentary on the war in Iraq, perhaps? A protest against the injustice of dogs being sent outdoors in the sleet to relieve themselves? A strange canine religious ritual designed to bring the ascetic terrier into closer communion with the One True Dog while elevating her sympathies for those pooches who lack the comforts of home and hearth? Who knows? And who am I to criticize the creative pursuits of another species, when my fellow humans include such notables as Gunther von Hagens and Andres Serrano?

Whatever the motivation for Scout’s performance, the aftermath was pretty nasty — and certainly not anything I wanted to find in my living room upon awakening from a nap. But in spite of her occasional attempts to explore the limits of human patience, I love Scout way too much to let Ron kill her — which he would almost certainly do if he came home and found a mess like that — so I set about restoring the carpet to its original appearance, texture, and aroma.

Here are the practical instructions if you find yourself cohabiting with a four-legged Neo-Dadaist:

1. Use two pieces of cardboard (a cereal box cut in half will work) to scoop up the solids or semisolids.
2. Blot up the liquids with paper towels.
3. Soak the entire area with Windex. (This neutralizes the HCl in the vomit.)
4. Blot.
5. Soak the entire area with cider vinegar. (This disinfects the area and prepares it for the next step.)
6. Sprinkle baking soda over the vinegar. The resulting chemical reaction will create a fizzy effect that will help draw any particulate matter to the surface. Keep sprinkling baking soda on the area until it stops fizzing.
7. Blot.
8. Sprinkle a thick layer of borax over the entire area and let it sit for a while to draw out the stain.
9. Scrape up the excess borax and run the vacuum to finish the job.

Now … all Hints from Heloise and cheap shots at Yoko aside, I found an underlying spiritual lesson in my housekeeping adventures this evening.

Some people would consider a disgusting performance like Scout’s to be grounds for getting rid of the dog. I won’t judge them for that. But my dogs are my children, and I can’t abandon my children when they make mistakes — even messy, stinky mistakes that soak into the carpet and take a lot of effort to clean up.

How could I? My heavenly Father never abandons me, and God knows the human experience is full of big, nasty messes that I wander into out of ignorance, stubbornness, or misguided self-interest. Sometimes I have sense enough to tuck my tail between my legs and cower when the consequences of my actions catch up to me. Sometimes fear or foolishness will drive me to turn around and growl at my Master, as if it’s somehow his fault I made a stupid mistake. And sometimes I just sit there with a blank look on my face, utterly clueless as to what just happened and why I’m in trouble.

But every time — regardless of the size of the mess I make or the way I react when it finally dawns on me that I’ve got a problem — the Father gently moves me out of the way, cleans up the mess, pulls me close, and reassures me that he still loves me in spite of my headstrong, impetuous ways.

How could I do less for these beautiful creatures he’s sent into my life to teach me about love?

Emily

Exhausted

I had an idea I might do a full-color sketch of the labyrinth I want to put in the backyard this spring, but for various reasons, Thursday turned out to be extremely long and extremely tiring, and I am pretty thoroughly drained at the moment.

It’s supposed to be slippery this weekend — two meetings I was supposed to attend (one on Saturday and one on Sunday) have been called off — so maybe I’ll have time to work on a few projects while I’m stuck at home.

Emily