Would You (or Do You?) Forbid Your Dog from Walking on the Rug?

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Anna Spaller)

Someday I’ll learn to stop asking questions on social media. I forget sometimes that well-meaning folks will offer advice I find… puzzling. This is how I recently found myself explaining that no, thank you, I’m not interested in banning my dogs from the rug.

Here’s the story: There was this tattered old Persian rug in that I fell in love with when I saw it in the window of a little antique shop near our old house. It only cost $200 for a big rug that was, even to my untrained eye, the real deal. Why so cheap? It was frayed and worn nearly through in spots. But that just made it more appealing to me—it held stories, had a past. Plus since it was already pretty bedraggled I wouldn’t have to worry about ruining it.

The rug was bound for our getaway home in Detroit, but when we sold the house later, the rug was one of the few furnishings I insisted on keeping. It made its way into the rambling old Victorian we bought a couple years ago, a perfect fit in the living room with the crimson walls. Then we brought home an exuberant puppy named Cassius Thunderpaws, an apropos name if ever there was one. Guess what: puppies play and romp and in a house full of hardwood floors, the sole rug is going to be pretty appealing. Also stray threads seem an awful lot like the braided rope toys scattered around the house. The result? The rug veered into more of what you’d call irreparably damaged than charmingly worn.

I idly posted on Facebook about the holes in the rug one day and asked my fellow dog lovers how they handle the whole rug situation.

A new friend replied to share a photo of her big dog on a bed, noting that he’s got one in almost every room and is trained to know those are his spots. Well that’s nice, and my Cash knows his beds too, but I don’t want to limit him to just those places in the house. Helpful Friend replied that she’d be very upset if her dog had damaged one of her rugs. Then she offered some unsolicited training tips and told me what a good boy their trainer had made their pup into.

Now I had to laugh because we’ve gone to the same trainer since we brought baby Cash home. This isn’t about training. I taught him a no-fly zone around the kitchen stove (tall dogs with waggy tails and gas ranges don’t mix!) so it wouldn’t be a big deal to teach him to stay off the rug.

But why would I? He and our elder little pup live here as part of the family. They sleep on the bed. They lounge on the couch. We make their food. They’re basically our world. A rug is a thing, and things don’t imprint upon our hearts like our pets do. There is not an object in our home I would trade for our dogs. And yes, of course they have rules (well, Cash does anyway, 15-pound Truffle is kind of a terror).

But I’m not interested in a stay-out-of-the-living-room, or stay-off-the-rug rule. When they play wrestle they need traction, which can only be found on the rug. (Ever watch a 90 pound puppy and 15 pound, 13-year-old wrestle? It’s priceless.) When poppa comes home and Cash has to tear around in gleeful circles the only place he can do that without slipping and sliding is on the rug. When he wants to curl in a ball at my feet while I’m on the couch, I don’t want that to be on a cold, hard floor.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Dana McMahan)

So as it ends up, I found another inexpensive, beautifully worn rug at the same shop. The other one will take up residence in a guest room where the holes are hidden under the bed, and the living room gets our new one, this one a Turkish number that used to be red and is faded to pink. It sports several scars and has visibly been repaired. I think the last owner is probably a kindred spirit who also believed dogs belong on the rug.