Confessions of a Dog Bed Junkie

Maisie before her ACL surgery

Confessions of a Dog Bed Junkie

I admit it: I have been on a lifelong quest for the perfect dog bed. I have bought (and been given by companies) ten times more dog beds than my lifetime cumulative number of dogs! Over the years, I’ve always had two dog beds in every room of whatever house I lived in. If you have large dogs, as I always have, from Goldens to Rottweilers to now a succession of Weimaraners, it’s out of the question to let them on the furniture because there’d be nowhere for the people to sit! So you have to provide comfortable canine alternatives to stuffed furniture. Even in the years when I had three dogs, two beds per room turned out to be sufficient as long as the beds could accommodate two large dogs, if they were sometimes willing to “scooch over” for each other and share. We’re talking big dog beds, here — because these have been big dogs, who like to stretch out or lie on their backs with all four legs in the air! It’s been a frustrating quest, with many dud purchases.

But I also have to say, in my defense, that I’m not the problem! I’ve had to give away many of those dog beds because I’ve had picky dogs, who rejected more beds than they embraced. I mean dogs who literally did not want to put a paw on the poofy kind of dog beds made with the popular trendy filling of repurposed plastic water bottles. Even if I commanded the pooches to “go to your bed” on such beds — thinking maybe they just needed to overcome the first sensation — they would gingerly step on that kind of squooshy bed as if it was made of shards of glass and then stand there semi-paralyzed, staring at me with a “You don’t expect me to lie down on this, do you?” expression. Then they would just as cautiously step off and lie down on the floor near the bed, to make their point.

My early awareness of the challenge of finding a great bed began with the first Weimaraner I rescued, Lulu. She was a real Princess and the Pea about her sleeping arrangement. Not only was she picky about how firm or spongy a dog bed felt, but she also could not stand any wrinkling in the cover. She expected a person to sweep their hand across the surface and smooth the surface before she would get on it. Lulu could be found standing right in front of one or another on the beds with a long-suffering expression. She didn’t whine or bark or come get you like Lassie might have, tugging you by the sleeve to come fix her bed. No, she stood there quietly, patiently, with a martyr’s expression, waiting for a human to notice the “problem” of the unsmooth bed surface and tug at the cover and smooth it. Then she would get on. She trained me well to notice whether a dog bed was acceptable to a dog — even the less-discerning male dogs in the pack at the time, Scooby Doo, Billy Blue and Yogi Bear, who all watched her bed evaluations in puzzlement. Over the years, there has meant my hopeful anticipation of new dog bed arrivals — and a lot of “rehoming” of those beds!

Maisie recuperating post-ACL surgery
Maisie recuperating post-ACL surgery

Lo and behold, I recently found the pinnacle of dog beds — a dog bed envisioned for the needs of large dogs. I thought I had experienced every sort of dog bed that exists — including the ones I have branded by Sealy which are basically firm egg crate material. And then Big Barker offered me a bed to try and was a game-changer. Here was a 100% Made-in-America (really rare!) dog bed, which is basically a mattress with a cover, that rivaled the firmness and quality of my Made-in-America Saatva mattress that I’d recently taken the plunge and bought for myself.

Timing is everything, because Maisie just had her second ACL repair two weeks ago, a severe and painful surgical restructuring of the knee that requires a long convalescence and many hours spent on dog beds. Because of the delay in scheduling due to COVID-19, it also involved many weeks of waiting and worrying before the surgery, trying to keep her quiet without further injury. This Big Barker orthopedic bed was actually studied scientifically at the University of Pennsylvania vet school, and came out with flying colors for improving post-surgical comfort and mobility for dogs. I even interviewed the creator and owner of the company, Eric Shannon, on DOG TALK® about how the bed and the professional study of it came to be.

So now Maisie is stretching out in supportive luxury — and just in time!

—Tracie Hotchner

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