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Wiping feet is one of the few things that husbands are more easily trained to do than dogs. I've managed to train dogs to wait at the door for feet to be wiped but that's as far as I've got.
One day a friend passed me a leaflet for Turtle™ Mats Classic Range. A large dog with muddy paws was walking across a Turtle Mat and the implication was that it would emerge at the other end with clean paws.
I was sceptical. Well, when you've got a couple of Rhodesian Ridgebacks who are international standard at getting dirty you've every right to be sceptical. We used to have lawns, but in wet weather we regularly had more of it in the house than outside, to the extent that the word "lawn" became an indication of location rather than a description of content.
Turtle Mats have 100% cotton pile on either a latex (for use on smooth flooring) or gripper back, the latter being for use on carpets. Mats with gripper backs have a black border. Both types come in three sizes: 75cm by 50cm, 75cm by 100cm and 75cm by 150cm. The mats can be washed in a domestic machine on a 40°C cycle and tumble-dried at the same temperature. I have (many, many times) washed the two smallest sizes in my machine but the largest mat should only be washed in a domestic machine if the manufacturer's handbook shows that it has heavy duty capacity. You should wash mats before use, but don't at any point add fabric conditioner as this will restrict absorption. You should also check filters after each of the first few washes to ensure that no excess lint is trapped there – although I've never found this to be a problem.
The latex backing is said to be non-allergenic. Whilst I have no means of proving or disproving this, both my dogs have had problems with allergies in the past and the mats do not seem to cause any reaction.
The classic mats are available in black/white, fawn, seal brown, black/brown, dark grey, blue and green/black. We have three of the fawn mats for use on a wooden floor and a green/black mat with gripper backing which sits on the carpet at the front door. The colours shown on the Turtle Mats leaflets are a good representation of the actual colours and they don't fade even after repeated washings. The oldest of the mats have been in regular use for over three years and they still look smart. The mats with latex backing are easily trimmed to size with all-purpose scissors if you want to fit them in a mat well.
So, how effective are they? Well, they absorb some of the dirt from a dog's paws, but by no means all. The test that I'm using is extreme though – two Ridgebacks who've been trying to dig battlefield trenches in the garden. Some dirt will get past, but quite a lot does stay on the mat. A more realistic test is probably the fact that I regularly come home in muddy wellies after walking the dogs, unlock the door, give my boots a cursory wipe on the mat and then dash to turn off the burglar alarm. Very little dirt gets past the mat.
The mats work by absorption rather than simply scraping as does a rough-pile mat. They remove wet, dry and greasy dirt, although the longer you're on the mat the better the result. If I get the chance to leave my muddy boots on the mat much of the dirt will have fallen away when I return for them later.
The latex-backed mats are sold as being non-slip. I have known them to move when they're hit by two Ridgebacks racing into the house, but in those circumstances so does furniture. In normal use they remain in position from day to day and only move when they're lifted for shaking or washing. The gripper mat on the carpet does creep slightly, in the direction of the pile, but it's not extravagant. When it gets its daily shake it's put back in the right place.
There's a thirty-day no quibble refund if you're not fully satisfied and a five-year guarantee against defective manufacture but it's not proof against the only problem that I've had with the mats. In their puppy stages both of my dogs have found the latex-backed mats irresistibly delicious. Turtle Mat would have been classed as one of their favourite foods. When I ordered my latest mat I explained this to the lovely lady at The Turtle Mat Company and she told me that a few drops of eucalyptus oil will the deter the dog. It does, but it has the same effect on visitors who come into the house wondering who has the nasty cold.
I've not seen these mats for sale in shops (although I have seen imitations – there's one at Lakeland Ltd - which, I'm told, don't come up to scratch by a friend who uses one). You might be lucky though and find that the Company has taken a stand at a country show. You can write to the Company at The Turtle Mat Company, 92a Kings Road, Kingston, Surrey, KT2 5HT or ring them on 0800 07202300. Your call will be answered by a real person!
There's a rather basic website at www.turtlemat.co.uk which gives details of the mats available and the prices although there's no secure ordering facility, which can only be done by email. Personally I wouldn't recommend this.
The prices of the mats vary from £19.95 for a 75cm by 50cm latex-backed mat to £65.95 for a 75cm by 150cm gripper-backed mat. Whilst the latter might sound expensive it's worth considering what you might pay for a comparably-sized washable rug.
i enjoyed reading this. thank you for your advice.
glitterprincess 15.04.2003 12:49
These sound brilliant, definitely something worth remembering if we do get a dog! Jami xx
offy 02.04.2003 21:10
I've got one of these at each entrance (although I'm not sure of it is the same make) which I got from Crufts. It is amazing how quickly they go brown, but I do find they take ages to dry in the tumble drier (I was advised that this was the best way to dry them).