As Seen on TV: The Shed Pal Is More of a Frenemy of Pet Hair

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Spring is here, bringing fresh flowers and sunny skies, warm days and sweet breezes. But if you're a pet owner, the warm weather also brings some less attractive arrivals -- namely, drifts of hair as your beloved animal sheds his or her winter coat. Traditionally, there have been just two solutions to the problem: You could either brush your pets regularly or you could invest heavily in scotch tape and lint brushes.

Recently, the As Seen on TV folks rode to the rescue with the Shed Pal, a handy-dandy gadget that -- they claim -- sucks up the excess hair while giving your pet a nice little massage. We decided to give the Shed Pal a shot; unfortunately, neither I nor any of my friends owns a dog.

The Shed PalLuckily, the Shed Pal commercial claims that it can also be used with cats, so I decided to give it a try with one of mine. In the instructions, it suggests getting your pet used to the machine slowly. The first step is to "Introduce with Shed Pal off. Use praise!" In my case, I plied my cat, Beezer, with treats and plenty of petting, while slowly combing him with the machine. He put up with the treatment -- largely, I assume, because of the steady stream of Whisker Lickin's that I was feeding him.

The next step is to "Acclimate with Shed Pal on. Use treats!" Although I'd already tried the treat trick, I figured that bribery was my best route, so I gave Beezer a few snacks, then switched on the machine. Beezer, his mouth full of cat munchies, gave the machine one frenzied glance before jumping up and running out of the room.

A few more treats and a bit of catnip later, Beezer and I gave it another shot. I managed to get a couple of passes in with the Shed Pal before he jumped out of my lap and again scurried off. Repeated attempts got us to the point where he would put up with the machine for about thirty seconds before the fight-or-flight instinct kicked in. Ultimately, I had to acknowledge that the Shed Pal was a pretty solid failure, at least as far as Beezer was concerned.

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Not that it mattered all that much, as the Shed Pal's performance was not quite as good as advertised. On TV, it seems to suck up excess pet hair like a Dyson vacuum, but in reality, it picked up very little, either from my cat or from my upholstery. To make matters worse, even the small amount of hair that it managed to grab quickly shot back out through the holes that liberally perforated the Shed Pal's containment vessel. Reading through more of the instructions, I soon understood why: While its $16 price tag seems like a reasonably good deal, the Shed Pal pretty much comes half-assembled. If you don't want hair flying all over your home, you need to install a Shed Pal filter. The company charges $9.99 for five of them.

By comparison, a good pet comb costs under $10 and a pet hair lint roller runs just over $2. Together, they cost a lot less than the Shed Pal, and will do a much better job of getting hair off your pets and keeping it off your furniture. To sweeten the deal, they're also a lot less likely to lead to cat scratches and freaked-out dogs. In other words, when it comes to taking care of your pet hair problems, the classic methods still work best.



Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.
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