Using the Dyson Groom tool on my dog, Beaker, reminded me of going to the dentist for my first filling. I remember sitting in the waiting room. Though the drill I could hear was through a door and down the hall, the buzzing sound was ringing in my ears. Taunting me. I was expecting Orin Scrivello when I went through the door to meet my maker, but was met with just a pinch from the needle injecting the Novocain.
But now I was the dentist, the Groom my drill. This new brush attachment promised to whisk away loose fur, straight from Beaker’s body directly into a Dyson vacuum cleaner’s dirt canister. The fact that the process promised to be pain-free was of little solace to Beaker, who seemed to wonder: Why are you making a dog play the role of guinea pig? Sorry, buddy, but on a 10-point shedding scale, you are a 7 -- not too extreme, but worthy of notice. When it came time to review the Groom, you were the perfect test subject.
Beaker is 6, and I have had him since he was 3. He rarely makes a fuss, and he’s even fine with taking a bath. Though not terrified by the vacuum, he has always been timid, so I eased him into the process, using the Groom tool unplugged as a brush for a couple of days.
The Groom tool was designed for medium- to long-haired dogs. The bristles can adjust in length but come out at an angle that could be uncomfortable for dogs with short hair. Beaker’s fur is short- to medium-length, but his coat is a little thicker -- especially for a pug-beagle mix -- so the bristles were at a good length when just the tips of them were protruding. He likes to be brushed, so he got used to the feeling easily. The next step was the hard part.
Remember how I said he was not terrified of the vacuum? Yeah, that changed. I brushed him with the Groom, just as I had previously, but when I pulled out the vacuum cleaner and attached the Groom extension, Beaker shot me a look that didn’t require an animal psychic to translate: Don’t even try it.
I tried it.
I held him by the collar with my left hand and used the tool with my right, like the Dyson demonstration showed. He tried to flee, running in place on the hardwood floors until my shoulder lost the battle. I tried crouching down, like a catcher in baseball, in front of him, blocking his path with my body, holding him down with one arm and using the tool with the other. It was very awkward, but it started to work. I could see the loose fur coming off him and piling into the dispenser. Victory!
Maybe I started celebrating a little early because Beaker had put up with enough of the grooming. He plowed through me and scampered into the other room. I blame the awkward stance, not the fact that I haven’t lifted weights since high school.
This was definitely a two-person job.
When my girlfriend, Christine, got home from work, she reminded me that Beaker is motivated by food. We crushed up a couple of Milk Bones, and the bribery began.
We fed him treats throughout the process, and he calmed down. He tolerated the Groom tool. His heart wasn’t racing, and he actually started blinking again. The vacuum cleaner’s dirt canister filled with his loose fur. It just piled up in there.
My skepticism about the product began to ease with Beaker’s anxiety. The Dyson website advises not to use the Groom tool on the dog’s more sensitive parts while the vacuum is on; it’s best to stick to the back and sides. With the vacuum off, we used the tool on Beaker’s chest and stomach. We turned the vacuum back on once we were finished, and the hair trapped in the bristles was sucked down into the canister.
The whole process took about 15 minutes. It would have taken five without the wrestling match.
Our couch was decorated with much less fur than usual for about four days and the need to sweep and vacuum wasn’t nearly as dire.
The Dyson Groom sells for $69.99 on Dyson’s website. The company says the tool is compatible with any Dyson vacuum that is not a hand-held, Motorhead, Stowaway model or the DC01 line. Click here for the suitability page.
-- Michael Robinson
Photos, from top: Dyson Groom tool. Credit: Michael Robinson / Los Angeles Times.
Beaker tolerating the Groom tool. Credit: Christine Tran.