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(US FL) New Fabrics Keep Dog Lovers Clean and Happy August 14, 2005 4:20 PM  

The Orange County Register

Who domesticated whom? Did the wild dog creep up to the fire for warmth and stay when it got the bonus of a meaty bone? Or did Neolithic man invite dogs into the cave to keep them warm at night or help with the hunt in the morning?

I'll put my money on the dog. After all, canines can comprehend up to 200 spoken words, while we can barely understand one barketty thing they say.

Even so, we instinctively sense what they need, and above all, it is companionship. Dogs are not solitary animals. Their pack instincts tell them that when we eat, they eat. When the pack sleeps, they sleep.

Of course once they settle in, dogs feel entitled to the sweet spot on the couch, the extrasquishy bed pillow and the best chair for watching the world go by. But does sharing your home with a canine mean you'll have to compromise on comfort or confront endless stains?

"Absolutely not," said Julia Szabo, author of "Animal House Style" (Bullfinch Press, $19.95), a guide to every chic option available when designing a home to share with pets. "People with the most beautiful interiors are happily sharing their sofas with pets."

Far from having a paws-off mentality, animal lovers with a sense of style are increasingly permitting pets to join them in their living quarters. Look at any decor magazine and you'll spot a pooch on the fashionable perch.

To accommodate this trend, fabric makers are leaping onto the dog wagon.

Kravet, a luxury-fabric designer, has introduced the William Wegman collection of Crypton fabrics called "Material Dog," a petfriendly line of chenilles, twills and suedes that resist stains, moisture, bacteria and odors.

A home that cleans up easily is the solution to living with dogs.

"If you design an interior that can stand up to pets, then it will also stand up to anything you throw at it," said Szabo. "And when your home is pet-friendly, everybody wins."

Here are some tips on making sensible choices about fabric, flooring and paint, which can make all the difference in the way your house handles your interspecies relationship.


Choose furniture with loose-back cushions and seats. That way you can tear the couch apart for vacuuming or flip a dirty cushion when company is coming.

Don't pile too many throw pillows on your sofas and chairs. Your pet may revert to primal behavior and go round and round in circles trying to tamp them down to make a nest.

If you're shopping new, think about slip-covered furniture from a custom sofa company. Every fabric it offers holds up to at least 10 washes.

If new is not in your budget but your couch has had it, try this last-resort approach at your own risk: Take the zippered covers off your couch, zip them closed, and run them through the delicate cycle in the washing machine with cold water and a laundry soap designed for fragile fabrics. Immediately put the damp covers back on the cushions before they shrink.


Matching fabrics to the color of your dog's coat is a good idea. Even so, pet hair should be vacuumed off your furniture at least once a week. Or once a day in the spring when the dog is shedding. Dog residue can stink.

Say no to "nubby" and textured fabrics. Stiff types of dog hair will grab onto textures and not let go. Instead choose tightly woven but sturdy fabrics such as heavy cotton and linen, which are easy to clean. Leather is also a durable choice.

Ultraseude, a synthetic material, is becoming popular for pet decor because it is easy to vacuum and can be wiped clean with water and a sponge.

Look for Crypton, a synthetic fabric that has gone from commercial uses to family-room couches. You can slop on it all you want and still it wipes clean.

If your dog sleeps in the middle of the bed, make sure all your bedding is washable. I switched from a comforter back to a blanket because the whole lot can go in the wash once a week.


Most floor types will stand up to a dog or two. Washable woods, brick, linoleum (yes, it's back) and tile are best.

Among the carpets, 100 percent wool is the most resilient and long-lasting, and you can clean it over and over with nearnew results.


Make sure your paint and wall coverings can handle cleaning with dish soap and hot water.

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