Love note to a dog bed

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Warning: The following is an ardent product endorsement.

Each January, we publish a feature in WDJ called “Gear of the Year,” where we tell subscribers about the best dog-care and –training items we’ve seen and used and appreciated all year. In January 2021, one of our occasional contributors, North Carolina dog trainer Lisa Lyle Waggoner, wrote a glowing review of a dog bed called the Wash ’n Zip Pet Bed – a quilted bed that has a zipper along three sides. The zipper allows you to unzip and unfold the bed into a larger rectangle for easy washing in a standard washing machine – or to use as a larger blanket on the lawn, sofa, or car seat. I was sold on the bed just from Lisa’s description and from photos of the various covers and sizes on the company’s website.

We published the review and I guess a bunch of you ordered beds, because Stan Pelz, the owner of the company, later sent me a note of appreciation – and one of the beds to try out myself! Well, for my dogs to try, anyway. He not only sent me a beautiful extra-large bed, but a “Puppy Proofer” – a large slipcover-like cover for the bed that helps protect the bed from getting chewed by bed-chewing puppies.

My senior dog Otto really liked the bed; I put it, zipped up and covered with the Puppy Proofer, in his favorite spot to nap during the day, inside a door-less crate in my office.

Then, recently, I started fostering a litter of eight mixed-breed puppies. Otto’s favorite crate and the Wash ’n Zip bed got called into more pressing service. All the other dogs beds I have on hand are huge, deep, foam-filled beds – and when you have to wash a bed every few days, or even every day, because tiny puppies walk through their formula and wet food (and poop!) and then crawl into bed – the huge, foam-filled beds don’t cut it. Even though the covers zip off to launder, they are a pain to “dress” and “undress.” The Wash ’n Zip bed, though – wow! What a breeze! In the few weeks that they were using the bed, I washed the Puppy Proofer cover about eight times, and the bed itself just twice. The cover handled most of the abuse; none of the puppies’ crusty messes soaked through the cover. I had to wash the bed only when it got messy when the puppies were using it while the cover was in the laundry.

Love note to a dog bed
This is not a great picture of the Wash ‘n Zip bed, but because I was so busy with puppy-care  and grandson-care while working, I didn’t take many pictures of this litter of puppies. Due to an early and prolonged spell of extraordinary high temperatures, I had to keep the puppies in my cool office each day for the peak heat. I had a tarp on the floor, with wood shavings to capture the poop and pee, a rubber mat for feeding them on, and the bed. It was soft and comfy – and the wood shavings brushed right off the PuppyProofer cover.

Then it was time to take the puppies back to the shelter for adoption. Now, I’m ALWAYS a mess on that day. The puppies have been cared for at my home ever so tenderly, and with an eye on enriching their social and physical experiences while sheltering them from becoming frightened or uncomfortable. Going from a safe, loving home with a lawn to romp on to a concrete-walled kennel in a building with more or less constant loud barking is traumatic for them, and seeing their fearful, uncomprehending little faces in the kennel is always traumatic for me. I know that they will adjust (and, in fact, they have), but if there’s anything I can do on that first day to make them more comfortable at the shelter, I do it. And in this case, it was giving them their familiar bed to sleep on. Even so, tears were rolling down my face as I left the shelter.

I was also verklempt because, on the same day I brought the pups back to the shelter, I was flying with my husband and our grandson back to the East Coast, returning that grandson to his mom near Boston and then visiting our other grandson in New Jersey. (Returning the grandson to his mom after a long stay with us is just as emotional for me as it is taking the puppies to the shelter, even though Liam doesn’t have to be left in a concrete kennel. We are going to miss him and hate saying goodbye!)

It was a whirlwind trip, but it was still five days before I was back home and could go to the shelter to see the pups, now available for adoption – and to look for the Wash ’n Zip bed. I was apprehensive, because I hadn’t alerted the staff that I would be coming back for the bed (I was crying too hard when I left) but I was confident, because of its washable nature, that it would be laundered and I would find it somewhere on the premises.

Maybe some of you don’t know how most animal shelters handle bedding. All shelters have a perennial wish list for towels and blankets to be used as pet bedding. When they get donations of thick, heavy pet beds, they accept them and use them – until they get soiled. Then, they usually go into the Dumpster. Yes, those giant $80 (and up) beds go into the trash once they get wet and soiled. If the dog who is using the bed is extremely house-trained and won’t go potty in the shelter, and the staff realizes this and the dog gets taken outside frequently, a big, thick bed might last the dog’s entire stay. More frequently, though, the beds get wet because the dogs have to eliminate in their kennels, and there isn’t enough room for the poop and pee to stay separate from the eating/sleeping area, or because there isn’t a good way to hose out the kennel without the bedding getting wet. Smaller blankets and towels get washed. Large, thick quilts or pet beds usually get tossed.

If the shelter is large or has a big budget, they may have commercial-size washers that are capable of handling thick or large bedding. Most shelters I’ve been in, though, including my local shelter, have just a row of ordinary washers and driers, which can’t handle giant blankets or beds. That’s why these things usually get thrown away when dirty.

Love note to a dog bed
Zipped open, you can see that the sheets of polyester batting that pads the bed are sewn into place, so the bed doesn’t get misshapen or lumpy with laundering. (Editor’s note: I initially wrote that the padding was cotton; I stand corrected. The company describes, “The inside of the Wash ‘n Zip consists of sheets of 100% polyester batting that are sewn into the outer seams of the bed and then box-stitched, so the padding stays in place and the bed keeps its shape over time.  The polyester batting dries quickly in the dryer.“)

You see where this is going. I had a joyful reunion with the puppies – who had all happily adjusted to their new environment, no longer looking shell-shocked – but couldn’t find the Wash ’n Zip bed anywhere. It wasn’t in any of the 64 kennels in the shelter. I looked in the shelter “kitchen” where the laundry gets done and dog dishes are cleaned. It wasn’t in any of the four washers or four dryers, nor in the stacks of clean bedding, nor in the shopping carts full of dirty bedding – and, yes, I did paw through all four shopping carts of poopy, wet towels and blankets that had come out of the kennels that morning and were waiting their turn in the washers.

I quizzed the staff: The person who cleaned the dog-adoption kennels on the weekend (right after I left the pups there) remembered the bed; she said she put it back in the kennel after cleaning the kennel, but the person who cleaned the kennel on the weekdays following said he didn’t remember a bed being in there. Most likely, it got wet (and/or poopy) and was put into the shelter Dumpster. Because of the Puppy Proofer slipcover, the staff member surely never saw that the bed could be unzipped and put in an ordinary washer! ACK!

I went out to the Dumpster to see what I was up against. It was full to the brim – due to be emptied later that day. It gets filled with not only wet dog bedding, but what gets cleaned out of all the cat litter boxes, and all the other garbage that comes out of a large animal shelter. Given that the bed had likely been discarded days before, several layers down in the Dumpster, and that I was not equipped with a scuba-diving mask, suit, and gloves I had to accept the fact that I had screwed up and lost Otto’s favorite nap bed – and an extremely useful one, at that.

Yes, the bed was a gift; losing it didn’t cost me a dime. But guess what? I loved it so much, it was SO damn useful, I’ve had to order another one – and they are not cheap! And they shouldn’t be! They are so well made, so versatile, so washable (even if this was not apparent to the shelter staff, alas), that I hate the idea of not having one here for Otto or any future foster pups. The extra-large size, with the additional Puppy Proofer cover and shipping, cost me $170 – ouch, that was a costly mistake! But that’s also how you know when a particular dog-care product is truly extraordinary – when you decide that no matter the price, you can’t live without it.

37 COMMENTS

  1. While I first I thought “Whoa, that’s expensive!” But then I quickly added up how much we’ve spent on dog beds over the last 20 years. It sounds like this bed might last almost forever!

  2. Why not suggest to the shelter staff that any donated beds not suitable for the laundry be kept aside and given to the person who adopts out a pet? That would seem a far better use and keep more trash out of the landfills and oceans.

  3. In 2016 we spent $240 on an orthopedic dog bed called Big Barker. It eased the last years of our old Yellow Lab and now, with the addition of a waterproof liner ($80), is is a mainstay in the life of our Black Lab puppy. Regardless of the brand, a high-quality dog bed is a good investment.

  4. Hi everyone! This is Stan Pelz, the owner/inventor of Wash ‘n Zip Pet Bed.

    I just created a coupon code for you to use when you order. Use code WDJ to get 15% off through our website store. My cell phone is 407-454-1167 if you’d like to call me directly. Thank you so much!

  5. I purchased one of these beds for my service dog, a golden retriever, after reading about it in WDJ, and it truly lives up to its description. It is so easy to unzip and fits beautifully into my regular-sized washing machine. It is well worth the cost, and we heartily recommend it.

  6. I am very excited about this new bed for my fur baby Lucky 🐕 , but, I will have to wait until I have enough money to purchase. I have been so disappointed with all of the other pet beds I have spent money on 🥺 looking forward to seeing what this dog 🐕 bed has to offer 😊🙏🐕

  7. Since you are promoting a product I must have you look up the company Hollywood Feed. They have a dog bed: Hollywood Feed Mississippi Made Memory Foam Orthopedic Dog Bed.
    Yes, it’s pricey, but well worth it. Unlike many others, it has 2 layers of egg-crate foam, which is wonderful for my 11+ year old Labradoodle.
    Here’s a secret; when it was on sale, I bought 2 of them. To heck with the cover, just take it off and substitute some old sheets or towels as a cover. Doesn’t everyone have dog sheets? It’s so much easier to maintain.
    Lastly, since I bought 2, I now use 3 layers of foam, cover it with the dog sheets and my guy is happy.

    • Oh gosh, no. “Dog sheets” or towels are not easier. They’re always being rumpled up, dug in and torn completely off, toenails go through them quickly, and so on. Give me a zipper cover that fits the bed properly any day of the week.

  8. It sounds great, and perfect for my aging coonhound. Another great bed for arthritic dogs is Dogbed4Less – it is 4-inch-thick memory foam, with a removable zippered waterproof cover, topped with a zippered fabric cover. It comes with 2 of the external washable covers, so your dog never has to be without his comfy bed! One caveat: the 4-inch thick memory foam made my old girl feel unstable getting up and down, so this Wash & Zip sounds better for her. But for anyone looking specifically for memory foam, I highly recommend it. I got mine on Amazon.

    • I bought a DogBeds4Less orthopedic bed for my previous dog Ramses when he was a senior. It is a great bed. The foam was thick enough to support him but also soft enough to provide him a comfortable sleep. The two covers were convenient as he was only without his bed for the few minutes it took me to switch them and they laundered beautifully. Since Ramses was used to stepping in and out of his Coolaroo bed he didn’t have any problem with the thickness of the foam.

  9. You talk about a litter when advertising the bed. Taking the litter to the shelter – Why are you having litters of puppies that’s just populate the shelters why don’t you fix your dogs so they don’t have more puppies crowding the world and shelters??

    • You must be new here – and I apologize for not making it more explicit. I wrote about fostering this litter two blog posts ago (https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/blog/must-at-least-like-dogs/) and took it for granted that people knew I was talking about the same litter.

      I frequently foster pups for my local shelter; this litter was brought in at about three weeks of age (WAY too early to be separated from their mama) by someone who “found them” (grrr). My two neutered dogs are both from my local shelter. I am a strong “spay, don’t litter” kind of person.

    • I’m sure Nancy can answer for herself, but knowing what a wonderful job she does, I have to jump in. She doesn’t breed the puppies. She takes in the ones that are either pregnant bitches or litters dumped at the shelter. You should address your criticism to those who dumped the dogs at the shelter in the first place.

  10. I have used the Wash & Zip beds for my dog for many years, I absolutely LOVE them! And so does my dog……..they are quality beds & I especially like the puffer that goes inside to make even more comfy! Buy one you will not be disappointed!

  11. If I had known about this bed with previous puppies it would have been their first bed. Diana was crated for her first weeks and only soiled the crate once. When she outgrew the crate, rather too quickly, she was house trained and allowed to sleep in the bed. During the day she uses her Coolaroo bed outside. (Although she does chew through a cover every 2-4 months. When my previous dog, Ramses got into his senior years I eventually bought him an orthopedic bed. I should have bought it years earlier. First I bought a DogBeds4Less with an extra cover for the bedroom. It was so nice I bought a second bed for the living room for him to lounge in that has a bolster around three sides. It is a Kopeks and a great bed. Orthopedic foam both firm and soft, with an inner liner to prevent staining and an outer microfiber cover that launders easily. I bought an extra cover so that when one was in the wash I could put the other on so he wouldn’t be without his bed for more than a few minutes. He loved that bed. When Diana kept growing Ramses’ old bed went to my parent’s house for their dog Dolly and I got Diana a bigger one. Recently adopted Freyja loves her Coolaroo bed outside but inside she is a “curler” not a “spreader” so I bought her a different Kopeks bed, one that is circular with a bolster to lean against. She loves it.

    Our needs for beds are different than yours so the Kopeks works better for us than the Wash N Zip. Should life change and I start fostering dogs the Wash N Zip would be the perfect solution to the rotation of dogs and puppies coming in and out of the house.

    • Thanks for mentioning that a dog’s needs for different beds change over time! When Otto was young, he chewed up countless beds. If they had ANYTHING inside them, they got chewed up. Then I found West Paw’s flat fleece mats, which had stuffing only in a narrow border around the edge. For years, those were the only beds that lasted around here. But in middle age, Otto stopped chewing his beds and started appreciating a deep, thick foam bed – but just at night or when it’s cold! Today, in his senior years (he’s 13 1/2!), he has full-time access to the thick beds, but during the daytime in the summer, he’s either in his shaded, damp sandbox, or in my office on the Wash ‘n Zip in his doorless crate. (When the foster puppies moved in, he moved out to the sandbox all day; Otto is the grumpy uncle who doesn’t like puppies near him.)

      • Yes, we tend to forget that dogs go through life changes much faster than we do. From puppy to teenager, adult and then senior. My needs have changed now that I’m a senior from where they were 20 years ago. So every 2-5 years a dogs need or preferences change too. Ramses loved his Coolaroo bed and inside just a flat blanket, then around 3-4 he preferred a pillow. I didn’t recognize (or was perhaps blind to) his need for a more orthopedic bed as he grew older. He probably would have welcomed it around 8-10. I didn’t buy him one until he was almost 12. He died at 14 and 9 months. Diana doesn’t use the Kopeks in the living room at 3, but I expect she’ll welcome it around 7 or 8. Freyja does sleep on hers but during the summer prefers the floor. She’s just a bit over 1 but I expect as she grows older, she’ll be spending more time on her Kopek’s as well. If I ever get another puppy the Wash n Zip will likely be their first bed.

  12. I bought one of these beds based on the review in WDJ and my rescue Lab mix gives it two paws up! Its much easier to travel with than a regular dog bed and so easy to wash. I may have to get another one for the puppies I foster.

  13. Read the article and went online for a look- see and then ordered the bed! I only need a small one since my dog is only 8lbs, I ordered the leopard print one which will look great with my tan furred dog on it! With the NYS tax it was $80.00 for the small size bed.

  14. Hello!

    Such a great testamonial, i was ready to spend.

    Went to the company’s website (in your article, clicked the website link in red) to view the company’s video details. A “PROP 65 COMPLAINT” flashed across the screen as the video was playing. Digging into Google to see what that meant, i found it is usually due to toxic ingredients related to the manufacturing of products being sold to consumers. You may wish to check into this with the company since you have recommended this bed so highly. I sure wanted a couple of them, but now I’m concerned. Would love to know what you find out, thank you.

    • I’m pretty sure what you saw was a banner that said Prop 65 *Compliant*, because the manufacturer mentions this qualification in the FAQs section on the website. Every web browser is different, however, and I’m not getting any banners or pop-ups from the site (though I use a pop-up blocker on my browser).

      • LOL, you’re right, Nancy. Yes our products are PROP 65 COMPLIANT. Proposition 65 refers to a set of stricter California laws when it comes to pet products and the toxicity of materials.

        Nestle Purina purchased several hundred of our beds and as part of that, we had to go through a rigorous QA process and have a full audit of our manufacturer to ensure the quality and safety.

  15. My aussie loves her wash n zip bed!! I went for the extra padding and have two puppy proofer covers. I could sleep in this bed it is so comfy!! I got this a couple years ago. How I lived without one before is beyond me lol!

  16. I want to throw in a good word for Molly Mutt. I purchased one of their waterproof bed covers for a leaky older dog. It zips over the actual stuffed bed and then you zip a regular fabric bed cover over it, of which they have a stunning assortment. You can supply your own mattress material, or order wool from them.

    I do like the concept of the Wash’n’Zip! I have done similar with an old folded mattress pad inside a denim “pillowcase” that I sewed up to fit, but the Wash’n’Zip sounds more comfortable. I will certainly check this out.

  17. I too bought an extra large bed after reading the initial WDJ review. I worried about it being large enough for our elderly Newfoundland, and Mr Petz himself actually called me and emailed me to discuss sizing!
    Yes it did fit our180lb Newf. I did get the extra comfort pad for his old bones, and it became his most favorite bed in the house. He even liked it more than the memory foam crib mattresses we use for Newf beds. That old guy has passed away, but the bed is still going strong and now the favorite of our 100 lb rescue.
    It still looks brand new when it comes out of the washer. And I can’t think of how many dog beds we had to throw out before, between elderly dogs and elderly cats! So I also highly highly recommend.

  18. This brand dog bed, DogBed4Less.com makes excellent beds. You can buy one through Amazon. They come in many sizes and you can purchase extra denim twill covers. It comes with 2 covers. One is the twill denim and a microsuede cover. The covers do not shrink too small. The gel infused memory foam is of a high grade. There are 7 different sizes! I wish I could have had this dog bed for all my past dogs.
    “Dogbed4less Premium Memory Foam Dog Bed, Pressure-Relief Orthopedic | Waterproof Case, Washable Durable Denim Cover and Bonus 2nd External Cover, 7 Sizes, Blue or Brown. ”
    The prices are more than fair. The quality of the bed will please you. Our dog likes to have a pillow so we pile a throw on the dog bed. She adjusts it to her liking. Our other 52 lb. dog liked to nest but her claws didn’t tear the fabric. She needed 2 throws! With all the available sizes it is possible to find one for most crates also.

  19. Hi -after reading the article in WDJ I went to the Wash N Zip pet bed website and checked out the fabrics and construction. I was impressed with the hard work Stan and company have put into making this such a good product. Ordered two large beds for the keeshonden – they love to stretch out. The fabric is great for keeping dog hair off and seems to be cool for them (double coated breed). These are perfect for RV travel and we are competing frequently in Nosework Trials so will get a lot of use!
    I ordered before the coupon discount but included a note about the WDJ article. Imagine my surprise when today a received credit for the discount. Customer service is amazing and highly recommend this product.

  20. Just got my two beds and they are wonderful. My girls love them zippered shut or bunched up as a nest blanket. Stan is great. Gave me the WDJ discount after the purchase. Highly recommend.

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