Forward and backward, forward and backward. I pushed the carpet shampooer forward and backward as I cleaned the rugs in my living room and hallway.
With a dog in the house, my mom thought I needed to have my own Bissell hot water cleaner, so she bought it for me as a gift a few years ago. Every couple of months, I load up the machine with soap and water, and give my carpet a once over.
This time, as always, the process resulted in a couple of buckets of muddy brown water which I dumped down the toilet. “I live in squalor,” I think to myself every time. I’m amazed by the dirt that sinks deep into my carpet, unnoticeable until it’s significant enough to be a real problem.

On Saturday, as I pushed the shampooer up and down the hallway and back and forth in the living, spraying hot, soapy water, then sucking it back up, Tilly, my one-year-old black Lab watched with fascination. She approached the machine curiously, sniffing at it and then falling back on her haunches as if she might attack it. This wasn’t the first time she had seen the machine in action, but it was the first time in a while.
I might add that it’s mostly her dirt that I was cleaning up. I’m not the one that carries sticks in with my mouth then crunches them into small wooden splinters all over the carpet. I’m not the one that runs in from outside with muddy feet or crunches up dog biscuits over the carpet, even though the wood floor is just inches away. It’s not my hair that coats the carpet and makes me wish I owned stock in the company that manufactures carpet bags.
This is why it was so very ironic that after analyzing the carpet cleaner for a while and determining that it was no threat to her that Tilly plopped down for a little nap right in the middle of the very carpet I was trying to clean.
The irony of wallowing in her own squalor was lost to her. The reality that I was cleaning up her mess while she laid in the middle of it also meant nothing to her. As far as Tilly new, the carpet warmed by the heated water made a great place for a nap. I stood there shaking my head.
Then I started nodding.
Tilly had learned from the best of us.