Thursday, September 28, 2017

My new dog is a robot vacuum

While we were gone, all our neighbours got new puppies.  So maybe I have dogs on the brain now but when I unpacked the robotic vacuum cleaner I bought after lugging our usual one up and down the stairs four too many times, I couldn't help but see the similarities.

I mean look at that.  Flat top, round body - you can totally see it, right?

Yeah, okay.  It's not so much a physical resemblance.

The first thing I did with the robot was to panic.  I couldn't figure out how to get the charging dock into a good location for both me and it, and to make an adjustment I had to pick up the robot for a minute, and it FREAKED OUT.  Its wheels were turning like mad and it was making all kinds of whirring, whimpery noises like a new puppy that is just desperate to hit the ground and start running.

I'm not used to appliances that have a mind of their own, so all this was a little alarming and I found myself talking to it to calm it down again.  I got it onto the dock and backed away slowly wondering whether
a/ I had made a terrible mistake and
b/ it was too late to take it back to the store for a refund.

After it was fully charged and ready to go, I had to carry it to the room I wanted it to deal with.  I set it down carefully to do its business, and pressed the button to indicate it could get going already, and off it obediently went, snuffling along the floor, its whiskers spinning around and around, drawing stuff into its path for a closer inspection.

How can you not immediately start calling a thing that does all that, Rex?

Since that first day, Rex has become part of the family.  And to prove it, he eats everything we put down in front of him.  I mean other dogs may be willing to lick a plate clean but they have nothing on Rex and our floors.  Some of his litter mates balk at a black floor, apparently, but Rex has no problem with our charcoal grey tiled hallways.  Sometimes I stay to watch him explore, and sometimes I go off for a while to do some other job and come back later to make sure he's still okay, only to be reassured by his single-minded hunt along a track that only he can see.

On the landings, Rex is amazing.  He gets very close to the tops of the stairs and then stops himself, correcting his path and carrying on like the ground always just drops away into nothingness and is nothing to worry about.

Upstairs though, Rex gets a little silly and sometimes hides under the bed when he finishes what he was doing.  The game is, I have to find him, then go under and lift him out because I still can't figure out how to get his remote control working.  He loves this but doesn't do it every time - I guess he doesn't want it to get Old before he does.

He can't do the actual stairs but those are still plain wood, and a Swiffer duster makes short work of them, so it's not really a hardship.  And he is so tiny!  Carrying him from floor to floor is nothing, and I can just let him roam free or close him into a room while I go off to do other things.

Probably Rex was not the best investment I ever made.  He was VERY expensive and he is not perfect.  For example:

He takes a long time to get through a room and his priorities are to cover all of it, not just the various parts that I can see have the most problems.  If I carry him over to a particularly bad mess and press a particular button on his back he is all over it, but generally he is more about process than product.  Rex is not the dog you want cleaning your floors when you find out guests are dropping by in ten minutes.  Basically, you have to be a proactive cleaner to be Rex's human, so I am having a big learning curve on that point.

He is bagless, which means that periodically I have to pull out part of his undercarriage and dump what's in it.  Probably I am doing this wrong but his leavings don't just fall into the garbage - I have to pull stuff out and that is both gross and messy.  (this is actually a good place to pretend I'm not using a dog analogy for this entire post... sorry about that.  ahem.)

He will only get into nooks and crannies that are larger than his body.  We've had to buy a little more new furniture for the house, and my choices are dictated by what will make Rex happy first, and what will look nice in the house second.

He doesn't do upholstery or the car.

On the other hand... we can always fill in the gaps with our  original vacuum. We would have wanted open-bottom furniture anyway, because of the infloor heat.

And you know what, the other options for lightweight vacuums - you know, the ones you can take up the stairs without having a heart attack from the strain? - they weren't so great for me either.  They may be as perfect for stairs as they are for upholstery but from the research I was doing before I bought him, it looks like the most working time you can get out of a cordless stick vacuum is 20 minutes - and even then, not on high power.  Sometimes it's as little as five minutes.  What can you clean in five minutes?  Then you have to find a place to charge it, which takes hours.  I don't know about you but even in this small house, it takes a lot longer than 20 minutes to vacuum everything, and if you only vacuum one room you will be tracking stuff into it from the others all day long.

So: we sort of live with a dog now.  He may never wake me up and save my life in a fire, but he'll keep me from drowning in dust, and that's pretty good in my book.

No comments: