People often swoon over my dog’s clean-cut appearance. Even by naturally short-haired, no-brushing-required Vizsla standards, she always looks impeccably groomed. And petting Finley is like gliding your hands over a chenille stuffed animal — no greasiness is left on your fingers, as is the case with some pets. “She doesn’t even shed! Does she?” friends and acquaintances coo into her little wet nose while stroking her silky ears.
Actually, technically, she does. Though Finley has no undercoat and her short reddish brown hair isn’t cluttering the dusty corners of my hardwood-floored home, it does gather with gusto in the seams of our little sedan. The car is the only place where we notice Finley’s shedding, and it’s impossible to miss. Those teeny-tiny hairs cling to the gray fabric seats for dear life, and no amount of tape or lint rolling will free them. Vacuuming sucks up some of the debris, but not all of it. Even after a thorough visit to the car wash, my sister still complains about her pet fur allergies any time she has to ride with us. And I’ve been embarrassed on more than one occasion when friends hop out of the car only to find themselves covered in Finley fibers.
While this hairy car problem pales in comparison to Finley’s separation anxiety, I’ve still been looking for a solution that doesn’t involve a visit to the car wash every week. But when I came across the idea of using a dog hammock, I thought the design was far too simple to actually work. Wasn’t it just like laying down a blanket in the backseat? I’ve tried blankets and all they did was encourage Finley to spend the car ride tunneling herself into the back cushions. She doesn’t just lie down on the blanket, she twists and turns and paws at the material in an effort to shape it to her liking. It drives me crazy.
I was willing to give the Kurgo Loft Dog Hammock a shot, mostly because I’ve been impressed with the quality and design of the company’s other products, like the Skipping Stones and the Loft Dog Jacket. Like other Kurgo gear, the hammock has ripstop fabric, which was especially appealing given how Finley frequently rides standing up on her paws — plus the aforementioned digging into the seats.
The hammock also has five attachment points to keep it from sliding all over the back bench. Four adjustable hitch straps loop around the front and rear headrests to ensure the hammock stays put. And if my sister or parents join us in the car, we can easily drop the front two loops and the hammock turns into a seat cover. What’s also nice about the Kurgo is the zippered seat-belt slots, which allow you to thread belts into the hammock so they lie flat against the seat and aren’t pushed outward awkwardly. There’s also a bungee cord that you can pull over the seat corners to make the hammock extra snug.
Installing the hammock took all of two minutes, and it manages to make my perpetually messy used car look fairly sleek and sporty. It’s also waterproof and machine washable, which I can really appreciate as a parent-to-be anticipating more messes than I care to clean up on a daily basis.
But the best part of this doggy hammock — for me, at least — is the fact that it accommodates a car seat with an extra zipper opening in the center. With a little one on the way, my husband installed the infant car seat a few weeks early to get Finley accustomed to sharing the back with another passenger.
During our first few trips around town with Finley in the back, she didn’t seem to mind the slightly more slippery surface of the Kurgo hammock. She spent most of the time standing and watching the world flash by outside her window. When we parked for 10 minutes so I could make a few phone calls, she settled down and curled up in her newly encroached-upon space next to the car seat.
When my husband drove the three of us to the hardware store, I thought his pedal-happy style would send Finley flying all over the backseat, as is usually the case. The hammock prevented our pup from skittering onto the floor, although she did still slide around a bit. The only other difference I noticed in the time since having the hammock is that I can hear Finley’s movements on the ripstop fabric much more than I ever could on the car seat fabric itself. But I don’t find it distracting. I really like knowing whether she’s standing and awake for the ride, or whether she’s lying down for a quick nap.
As far as my primary motivation for trying a dog hammock, the Loft easily keeps the back seat cleaner than it’s ever been in the entire two years I’ve owned the car. With a quick wipe of a towel, I’m able to remove all hair, sand, dirt, and whatever else Finley picks up off the street and at the park. I imagine it’ll do the same for cracker crumbs and bottle spills when a future toddler is sharing the space.
Impressed with the hammock’s simple functionality, I did some perusing on Kurgo’s site and saw that the company also has a bucket seat cover for doggies. I don’t suspect we’ll be needing it for the next couple of years, but it’s hard to deny we’re entering the minivan phase of our lives. The joys of parenthood, right?
I was spending about $15 a month on cleaning my car’s interior, so the Kurgo Loft Dog Hammock should pay for itself in five months. And saving myself the frustration of having to make that monthly pit stop is practically priceless.
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About the author: Whitney C. Harris is a New York-based freelance writer for websites including StrollerTraffic, Birchbox and WhattoExpect.com. A former book and magazine editor, she enjoys running (with Finley), watching movies (also with Finley), and cooking meatless meals (usually with Finley watching close by).