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Editor's Note: Susan has the week off. This column originally ran Feb. 18, 2012.

A lot of catalogs arrive in the mail at our house. Many get recycled, but one of the family favorites is “Orvis, the dog book,” a color catalog of items you can buy for your dog, ranging from beds to raincoats. We’ve never actually purchased anything from this booklet, but we love looking at the pages, filled with photos of dogs using or wearing the merchandise. We coo over the adorable puppies or older dogs who look happy and content.

“What a nice dog,” we say, pointing to a photo of a golden retriever sitting comfortably in his fleece-lined deep dish dog bed.

Of course, we want our own canine to join in on the fun, so we hold out the printed piece and say, “Here, Molly, look at this.” The spaniel sniffs at it, hoping it might squeak if she bites it, but she’s not impressed.

Lately, however, in addition to poring over the dog photos, I’ve actually started looking at the merchandise.

If you had told me years ago, when I was single and living in an immaculately kept house (translation: no dog hair) that I would consider purchasing dog-proof bedding, I would never have believed you.

Now, I’m trying to decide which I like better: the sand color or the sage.

I read the description to my husband, “Let your dog sleep on the bed without worry. (This coverlet) features a scratch-proof fabric that resists claws.” I confess I found the whole concept intriguing.

Is this what my life as a wife, mother and dog owner has come to? Excitement over a high-tech, water-resistant membrane that protects from hair and dirt?

My husband peered at the page.

“The dogs in the photo look like they sleep a lot better than you do.”

On the next page, there was a photo of a Labrador nudging a puzzle piece with his nose.

“This ad is for interactive dog puzzles — ‘a fun and rewarding challenge that’s a great cure for boredom.’”

Cure for whom? I’ve never seen a bored dog. Molly sits by the window and watches the activity at the backyard birdfeeder for hours. (My husband says she’s watching “bird TV.”)

Not long ago, I rearranged the furniture in the living room, including the chair where the four-legged member of the family usually sat. It was her vantage point to the outside view.

I was pleased with the aesthetics of the new arrangement, but my husband frowned.

“You can’t move that chair. Where will Molly sit?”

Where she usually does … anyplace she wants.

“But she can’t see out the window without the chair.”

My husband disappeared into our basement, and moments later, to my horror, emerged carrying an old bean bag chair that I had forgotten existed. He plopped the big blob next to the window. The eyesore was bright red and clashed with everything.

“You can’t leave that there,” I said. “It’s ugly!”

“We’ll move it when company comes over.”

“Am I supposed to look at it every day?”

At that moment, Molly walked over to the monstrosity and climbed onto it. She spun around three times and gave it her stamp of approval by immediately falling asleep.

My husband smiled, triumphantly.

These days I sit in the living room chair, newly positioned by the fireplace, while Molly rests on her big red bag by the window.

Maybe all your bag needs is a prettier cover, I say to my faithful companion. Oh look -- here’s one in the catalog.

“A quilted throw appliqued with a pattern of dogs at play. Yarn-dyed tartans and colors are chosen to complement your den or family room.”

And it’s not bright red. Sold.

Contact Susan Hazlett at susanrhazlett@ or write to her in care of The Pantagraph, 301 W. Washington St., Bloomington, IL 61702-2907.


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