Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wine for the Joy of Roomba

One thing I neglected to really think about before getting both my cat and dog was pet hair.

The cat I had years ago lived only to cuddle, sleep, eat, and deposit as much hair as she could on every available surface of my apartment.

This invariably included me, and the mistake of getting an almost all-white cat when I had an almost all-black wardrobe soon became apparent.  The sticky tape roller became my best friend, and since mere vacuuming wasn't enough, I was forced to throw a clean sheet over my couch whenever anyone came over, in case they mistook my couch cover for a bear rug.  Or a gorilla suit.

Clearly I didn't learn my lesson with her, because Tuco is mostly white as well.  I was overjoyed when he was a puppy, though , because he seemed not to shed at all.

How fabulous, I thought.  We've managed to luck into a dog that doesn't shed!

Oh, how I was mistaken:  little by little, the scattering of doggie hair around our house began to increase, gradually covering the rug and creating tumbleweeds that blew across the wood floors within a day or so of vacuuming.

The only way to keep the house truly hair-free would have been to vacuum daily, and I'm sorry, but house-proud as I am, i just could not bring myself to do it that often.  Not to mention that every time I open the closet door that hides the vacuum, the dog runs away in fear.

It was a random woman at the dog park who told me about the Roomba; a small round robotic vacuum that swivels itself around your house of its own accord, sucking up dirt and hair along the way.

Well I couldn't resist, I got one.  And I'm not going to lie to you, I was immediately in love.  I can simply press the "clean" button before I leave the house and the Roomba will toodle around the house and clean it while I'm away.  The best part is it has a little docking station, and when the vacuum is done cleaning or its battery gets low, the Roomba docks itself and charges.

It's pretty fab.  Tuco, however, is not so sure, and the first time I took it out of its box and set it to charge on its docking station, Tuco became afraid and I had to pick him up.  It hadn't even started cleaning yet.

When it did, he stared at it, sniffed at it, jumped backward when it bumped into his paws, and then began to chase it around barking at it.

But by far the strangest behavior occurred that night and the night after:

Tuco just wouldn't settle.  He ran around the house, then he stood still, staring at us pathetically, imploringly.  He hid between our living room chairs, looking up at us, only to run away a few moments later.

Something was really wrong: he seemed sick, and i kept taking him outside to see if he needed to poop, but once outside he seemed fine.

Maybe, I thought, in his doggie way, he was trying to tell us an earthquake was coming.

He looked desperately at us, begging us to help him, but we had absolutely no idea what was wrong, so how could we know what to do?

It was shaping up to be a very long and freaky evening, when Steve, clever lad that he is, had the brilliant idea to unplug the Roomba docking station.  I admit, I was skeptical of this move, and the thought "oh yeah, that'll do it" crossed my mind.

But as soon as the words finished forming in my head, I realized that Steve had been right.  Tuco immediately seemed better.  His eyes relaxed, he stopped standing and running around, and he lay down and almost instantly fell asleep.

It must have been that whatever signal the docking station emits to draw the Roomba to it must be at a frequency which humans can't hear but dogs can.

I can only imagine how it must have been driving Tuco crazy, like an incessant test of the Emergency Broadcast System, or a fire alarm that won't turn off.  Try relaxing or sleeping through that.  It's no wonder he was happier outside.

So now I know:  I need to plug in the Roomba when we leave the house, and unplug it when we get home again.  After all, now that I have experienced the joy of the Roomba and a house not swimming in dog hair, I can never go back again.

Now if someone would only invent a robot to vacuum the actual dog, I would be in heaven.

My Wine for the Joy of Roomba is a 2008 Tardieu-Laurent "Les Becs Fins".  This red wine hails from the Cotes du Rhone Villages appellation in the Southern Rhone Valley in France.

A blend of Grenache and Syrah, this wine has nicely balanced tannins and acidity, with rich, ripe red and black fruits, tobacco, dried flowers and herbs.  The 2009 is probably easier to get now than the 2008, and can be found for under $24 a bottle.

A lot of wine for the money, we serve it with squab at the restaurant, but it would also be perfect for those days when you just want to curl up with a glass of wine, sit back and watch the Roomba do the work for you.  Just make sure to put earmuffs on your pooch first.