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Writer-s-Bloc

The dog and the robo-vac

By Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel

The robot vacuum whirled to face us, and then circled menacingly, or at least the dog thought so.  

Whenever the machine would roll towards her, Tig’ger, the Australian shepherd would tuck her stubby tail and run out of the room.  After all, the robot did make strange, loud, humming sounds, like some kind of alien animal.   

To make things even spookier, the rolling, whirling, dirt-eating disc had later knocked the wicker basket laundry lid on top of itself, and now was incognito. I grabbed my cell phone and recorded the strange phenomenon. 

It spun round and round in tight circles, akin to a buffalo with a brain injury after rutting season. I think the lid had obstructed its vision and then became disorientated, leaving the robo-vac dazed and confused. 

 I must admit, the thing gives me the willies too, especially when we first got the self-propelled vacuum. I couldn’t help but wonder if there isn’t a camera inside, hidden in plain sight.  

In this day and age, one has to be concerned about our smart phones, TVs and even our own vehicles recording our every move and conversation since home surveillance systems and baby monitors are being hacked by nefarious individuals or entities. 

I was having tea with an elderly woman a few years back when we heard a really bizarre growling gurgling noise coming from her bedroom’s audio video monitor. 

“Sounds like Gremlins,” the 90-something-year old said nonchalantly as she took another sip. 

It was all I could do not to run screaming from her house. 

Another case in point, I was alone recently and using my nine-year-old lap top late one afternoon and happened to say out loud that I didn’t understand why I was so tired. 

Seconds later, an ad came up on the screen about chronic fatigue syndrome.  Now that was freaky.  The camera had been taped over, but how do you shut off the sound? 

Hence the notion of a roaming vacuum saucer spy, sneaky enough to cover itself in camouflage, may not be that far-fetched after all. 

Perhaps it thought it would blend in better with the surroundings of the hard wood floor and tanned carpet, believing it fooled this inferior human. 

 The appliance is a more compact and flattened version of Artoo Deetoo  —the glorified shop vac — and quite possibly, far more sinister.  

They say to trust your dog’s instincts about things.  I don’t know who “they” are, but that’s good advice.   

My dogs over the decades have warned me correctly about sketchy people, whom I initially had been fooled by, but the previous pooches never encountered a robotic vacuum either, and some canines actually attack them.   

Good thing Tig’ger’s a pacifist. 

This robo-vac is plenty shifty too, besides going undercover and terrorizing the dog, it also acts like a unionized employee.  Some days it works for 30 minutes, then goes back to roost on its home base.   

I then have to retrieve it, lift it up, carry it to another room and shut the door to its recharging station, so it won’t try slacking off again. 

Other days the vacuum travels throughout the house and cleans for two full hours, before calving from exhaustion, or a dead battery.  

I catch myself talking to, or scolding it, saying:

  • “Nice try, but you’re going back to work”
  • "Oh, honey robovac, I'm home, you hoo, where are you?"

Oftentimes, there is the issue of the machine going missing, and my having to go on a search-and-rescue mission. 

One time I found it under the bed, and it had dragged one of my boots by the laces and got all snarled up in it.  The following week, it got tangled up in my apron strings. 

I heard of adult children being unable to let go of Momma’s apron strings, but this is ridiculous. 

I can never be certain where it will end up at on any given day. I can’t help, but wonder what it does when home alone with the dog.

I may need a home-monitoring, audio-visual system to spy on the vacu-spy. 

The results may very well be spine tingling. 

Tig’ger and I may need therapy after. Caesar Millan, dog whisperer, here we come.

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel is a Kelowna writer.

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