Dogs and Carpets 101

Dogs and Carpets 101

You came home to a rug that’s been chewed to shreds and a mess on the carpet—again. Now your house is smelling (and looking) a bit like a kennel… You love your dog, so you’re thinking it may be time to scrap the carpet altogether.  

But think twice before you make any rash decisions. Carpets have so many advantages for your home! They muffle noise. Dogs won’t slip and slide on them like they can on hard surfaces. You also don’t have to worry about their claws scratching your hardwood floor. Plus, carpets are a soft place for your feet and for their paws. 

The good news is that dogs and carpets can actually coexist nicely. Here’s what you need to know.


Choose the right carpet. 

Not all carpets are the same when it comes to protecting against pet stains and messes. Look for carpets made of nylon, wool, or a material known as olefin. The most popular option, nylon is durable and easy to clean. It also has built-in stain resistance. Wool, the more expensive option, has some natural stain resistance but cannot be treated with a stain-resistant coating. Olefin was originally used in outdoor carpets but has been engineered to have more of the feel of wool. It’s made from plastic fibers, is easy to clean, and repels moisture. 


Take care of new messes right away.

Cleaning up after your pet is part of being a responsible pet owner. The best way to keep your carpet from staining is to address your pet’s accidents right away. If you use a store-bought cleaner, choose one with a neutral pH to help remove the acidity of your pet’s urine. You can also make your own cleaning solution from vinegar, baking soda, and water. Here are two natural methods for cleaning up pet urine on carpet. 

Method #1

    • Place a thick layer of paper towels over the wet spot. 
    • Cover the towels with layers of newspaper. 
    • Stand on the newspaper for a few minutes for it to absorb the urine.  
    • Remove the paper and paper towels and dispose of them.
    • Rinse the area with cool water. 
    • Blot up the water with towels. If you have a wet vac, you can use that instead.
    • Once most of the liquid is blotted, spread baking soda over it. Use ¼ cup or less. (Note that large amounts of baking soda are toxic to dogs so keep your fur baby away.)
    • Let the mixture sit overnight and then vacuum the spot thoroughly the next morning. The area should feel clean to the touch. 


Method #2

    • In a clear spray bottle, mix one cup of distilled white vinegar with one cup of water and 2 teaspoons of baking soda. Shake it up.
    • Spray the mixture on the stain. 
    • Let it sit for a few minutes and then blot it with a towel until clean.

You can use these methods for other pet messes such as vomit or poop. Remove the vomit or feces before treating the carpet, being careful not to embed it in the carpet fibers. Act quickly; the acid in vomit can quickly discolor your carpet.


Take care of old stains, too.

Old urine stains can cause a lingering odor in your home. You can take care of these stains in several ways. One way is to use an enzymatic cleanser that breaks down the stain at the molecular level. You can find these cleansers at pet stores. Another way is to rinse the area thoroughly with water, then use a wet-dry vacuum to clean it up. Importantly, do not use a steam cleaner. The heat can set the odor and stain permanently. 

Not sure where the stains are? A blacklight can help you find them. The wavelengths of blacklight cause the proteins in urine to glow.


Add a carpet runner to high-traffic areas.

Consider a carpet runner or area rug over your wall-to-wall carpeting for an extra barrier. Place it in high-traffic areas or where your dog commonly goes. Carpet runners and area rugs may be picked up and cleaned, and more easily replaced, if needed.


Clean their paws and clean your carpet.

There’s a lot of preventive care that you can take to keep your carpets clean. Start by wiping and drying your dog’s paws when your fur baby comes in from outside—especially on rainy, snowy, or muddy days. Then, take care of your carpet by vacuuming regularly and shampooing your carpet every 12 months to remove dirt, grime, and allergens. You can schedule a professional carpet cleaning or do it yourself.


Train your pet.

When you adopted your pet, you made the commitment to stick with them through the good and the bad. Oftentimes bad behavior like going to the bathroom on the carpet can be un-trained. You can do this by kennel training when you are gone or using a reward method when they go outside. If you need help, talk to your pet’s veterinarian for ways you can teach your pet to unlearn these behaviors or find a local trainer! You may think you are doing them a favor by not disciplining them when they make a mess or start chewing on furniture, but really you are getting in the way of the great pet they have the potential of becoming- by not letting them learn that these behaviors are ‘bad’.   

Keep in mind the age of your pet plays a factor. A puppy or an older dog may need extra attention and may have more accidents than a dog in its prime. 

Does homeowner’s insurance cover damage from your pets?

Unfortunately, homeowner’s and renter’s insurance both do not cover the damage your pet does to your carpet—or to any of your personal property. Take note that even your carpet warranty probably does not cover pet damage. If your pet, however, gets loose and damages property at your neighbor’s, the liability coverage in your homeowner’s policy may kick in and cover some of the costs. 


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

Tips to Keep Students Engaged

Tips to Keep Students Engaged

It’s nearly the holidays, and in classrooms everywhere, students are “bouncing off the walls” with excitement. It’s one of the most challenging times to keep young minds on task. But it’s not the only time. After the holiday break, the long winter months loom ahead. When students are cooped up, and darkness descends early, this is another difficult time to teach.

Here are some tips and tricks that have been used successfully by veteran teachers. Try these creative ways to keep students engaged before the holiday break and during the winter months.


Tip #1: Choose seasonal content and themes.

You don’t have to ignore the holidays in order to teach quality content. In fact, acknowledging them lets you in on the fun. Choose holiday-themed books for literature circles, and writing prompts that spark imagination like this primary grade example, Trapped in a Snow Globe. In social studies, introduce diverse winter holiday traditions from Christmas to Hanukkah, Diwali, Kwanzaa, and more. Focus on common themes of family, sharing, and light. In math class, challenge students to budget and “buy” items for the holidays. Extend seasonal themes into the winter months by inviting your students to study the geometry of a snowflake, write a poem about snow, or research its insulating power. Don’t forget, decorate your classroom for your winter-themed lessons!


Tip #2: Add a seasonally-themed reward system.

You have your year-long reward or incentive system, but during the holidays, consider including an added incentive to keep students focused. Reward good behavior with snowballs (cotton balls). Students place them in a jar, and when it’s filled, the class earns a hot cocoa break or extra recess time. You also could hold a holiday raffle using items from the dollar store. Reward good behavior with raffle tickets and a chance to win. Importantly, don’t ditch your primary reward system. Think of this as additional positive motivation.


Tip #3: Introduce new experiences and activities.

Grab students’ attention with an experience or new activity. Scavenger hunts and escape rooms are engaging games that can be used to review curriculum content. Plays and skits developed by the students are great vehicles for learning. Google’s 3D animals can bring the zoo to the classroom. Presentations created with shared Google slides reinforce digital literacy as well as core content. Invite a guest speaker to talk to students about a topic they are studying. These new and exciting activities will help focus students during the busy holiday season and the long winter months.


Tip #4: Get students moving and out in the sunshine.

Part of the challenge of teaching during the winter months is that everyone is cooped up inside. It’s tempting to fall asleep or lose focus in a warm, comfortable classroom. Lessons that get students up and moving will keep them energized. Set up stations around the room and have students circulate. Post student work on the wall and do a gallery walk, where everyone can review it. This works especially well for group projects and posters. Schedule time outside so students can soak up some sun, which helps to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Bundle up, and make an outdoor excursion a regular part of your week.


Tip #5: Create engaging lessons.

This is the time of year to pull out the most popular lessons—or create new ones. Think about hands-on lessons that extend beyond the textbook, such as STEAM activities that stretch young minds and are truly engaging. Build a snowman out of toothpicks and marshmallows. Build a snowball catapult to launch marshmallows. Ask students to design their own toys. Incorporate sensory elements such as writing in shaving cream on their desk. Analyze the phases of the moon through Oreo cookies. Being able to eat the project afterward is a definite bonus!


Tip #6: Incorporate service learning.

The holidays and winter months are ideal for community service projects. Consider a class project that incorporates the curriculum but also gives back to those in need. Partner with a nonprofit in your community. Chances are they would welcome the help with fundraising, awareness, and more. Fundraising projects involve literacy, math, and art. Awareness campaigns can help students build research and presentation skills. Service-learning promotes teamwork and provides students an opportunity to create meaningful change.


Tip #7: Keep it consistent.

The holiday season can be especially disruptive for teaching. Holiday concerts, special activities, classroom celebrations, and school breaks make classroom time feel disjointed. That’s why it’s important to stick to the routine as much as possible. Do what you can in the classroom time allotted. Importantly, don’t try to cram things in before the holiday break. Give children the time to learn and the space to learn it consistently. There will be plenty of time during those long winter months. Thankfully, we add a couple of minutes of light each day following the winter solstice, December 21. That means spring can’t be far ahead.

Do you have a tip that isn’t on this list? We’d love to hear it. Share it with us and other Educators in the comments.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or



Red Apple Day: Why Apples Are Symbols of Teaching

Red Apple Day: Why Apples Are Symbols of Teaching

If you’re a teacher, chances are you’ve gotten your share of apple-themed gifts—and probably more than a few shiny red apples. In honor of National Eat a Red Apple Day, December 1, let’s explore the history of how the red apple became the iconic symbol for teachers everywhere.


Education for Apples

Early on in the U.S., teachers were housed, fed, and paid by the community in which they taught. Poor families who could not afford the teacher’s low wages would pay with produce. The early apples were bitter, sour, and smaller than the ones we’re used to.  But apples were popular because of their bartering value. They could be made into hard cider, considered safer to drink than water. Apples also could be eaten fresh, fried, stewed, and baked. They could be made into vinegar, brandy, preserves, and apple butter. They could be dried for the winter and eaten year-round.

Years later, after Prohibition, apples started to become marketed as an essential part of a healthy diet- hence the term, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Apples were still being given to teachers, but this time from their students.

The first day of school occurs near the beginning of September, coincidentally apple harvest time. Apples grow in every state in the continental U.S. They’re cheap and pretty, especially when they are buffed until they shine. That made apples the ideal first-day teacher gift. It was a way for students to show appreciation and get the year started on the right foot with a sweet, and healthy treat for their teacher.

Today, there are foundations and awards for educators, like the Golden Apple Foundation. Apples continue to decorate classrooms and hallways. Apple mugs, earrings, shirts, ties, notebooks, etc. line the aisles at grocery stores for teachers. The apple is and will continue to be a powerful symbol of knowledge and education because just like apples, teachers are an essential part of helping our children grow.


Celebrate Red Apple Day with your students!

Here are 5 apple-themed activities for Eat a Red Apple Day, or any day that you’d like to celebrate apples and sweeten the learning experience.

    • Conduct an apple taste test. Put out samples of three varieties of apples. Then have students describe them and rank them.
    • Read an apple-themed book.
    • Teach fractions, counting/sorting or measurement using apple-inspired math.
    • Make an apple-inspired art project.
    • Visit an apple orchard, learn how to plant an apple tree, and more in these engaging videos.

Do you have a favorite apple-themed activity? Please share in the comments.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or


What to Know About Winter Car Washes

What to Know About Winter Car Washes

Winter is hard on our cars. Between ice and snow, road salt and dirt, our vehicles often get covered in grime.

But the dirty car you see is just the beginning. Salt, sand, dirt, ice, and rotting leaves can lead to rust which eats away at the exposed metal and causes mechanical issues as well as hurts your car’s resale value.

Keeping your car washed and clean during the cooler months is the best way to protect it from damage. And it will also help keep it from aging. Here’s some more information on why you should keep your vehicle washed this winter.


Winterize your car—before winter.

Before the temperatures dip down, take some time to prepare your car for the winter weather.

    • Give your car a thorough wash and rinse, paying special attention to areas where salt, sand, and ice can collect such as on the undercarriage and in little crevices.
    • Apply a coating of wax, which can help protect against road salt and other debris.
    • If you wish, you also can get glass coatings, plastic trim coatings, and paint coatings at your local automotive supply store.
    • Switch out cloth floormats for all-weather rubber ones. They will be easier to clean during the winter months.

Make sure you do it on a warm day, 50 degrees or above, or indoors. Cold temperatures make it hard for wax or polish to dry and cure properly.


Wash your car every few weeks.

Your car doesn’t have to be visibly dirty to give it a wash. You should schedule one every couple of weeks throughout the winter.

If washing a car at a car wash…

    • Choose touchless car washes rather than the ones with the big twirling brushes. They will be gentler to your car’s paint.
    • Pay the extra to have your undercarriage sprayed. This is where salt and dirt tend to adhere.
    • Make sure your car is dry when you leave. Road salt and dirt stick to wet cars.

If washing a car at home…

    • Drive your car around the block a few times and crank up the heat to warm it up first.
    • Wear waterproof gloves, clothes, and boots.
    • Remove snow, ice, and other debris from the car.
    • Use warm water to help wash away the initial coat of road grime.
    • Use a car wash detergent. (Avoid dish soap which can be hard on your car’s paint.)
    • Pay attention to the wheels and undercarriage. These areas are most affected by winter driving.
    • If you like, instead of the traditional wash, you could try a “rinse-less” or waterless wash. You may purchase these washes at your local auto supply store. Make sure to have lots of microfiber towels if you choose this option; you will need them.
    • When you are finished with the wash and rinse, run the wipers for 10 seconds. This clears away excess water that can freeze later on.
    • Open your car doors and dry the rubber weather seals to help prevent them from freezing shut. Do the same around your windows and your fuel door.


Importantly, though, if the temperatures dip below 30 degrees, skip the wash. You will end up with frozen locks and door handles.


Look out for rust.

Rust forms when iron-based metals such as steel are exposed to oxygen. The rust is actually the breakdown of the metal. It’s common for rust to first appear during the winter months. Luckily, you can stop rust in its tracks. It’s important to take care of rust, because it’s considered normal wear and tear, and isn’t usually covered on your car insurance policy.

    • Check your car for rust each time you wash it. Lower door corners are popular places for rust to appear, as are wheel wells in front and behind tires.
    • Identify the kind of rust. See this article in Popular Mechanics on how to fix each kind.
    • Surface rust includes scratches and cracks in the paint.
    • Scale rust shows up as bubbles in the paint.
    • Penetrating rust appears as flakes of metal and holes.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

5 Easy Ways to Keep Your Holiday Spending on Budget

5 Easy Ways to Keep Your Holiday Spending on Budget

There’s so much to love about the holidays: the festive food, the memorable music, the timeless traditions with friends and family, and the gifts galore. It’s easy to blow your budget when you’re caught up in the holiday spirit.

We typically spend generously around the holidays, an average of $942, according to Gallup. And this season, that amount is only expected to increase. A recent survey revealed that more than half of shoppers planned to spend more in an attempt to make up for missed gatherings during the pandemic. 

Celebrate the holidays without breaking the bank by using some of these proven ways to keep your spending in check.


1. Make a holiday spending plan.

We often don’t consider everything that goes into our holiday spending. It’s more than just gifts- decorating, food, and entertaining can all add up. Planning ahead will help you understand what you typically spend, and how to make more savvy decisions.

    • Decorate with your budget in mind. You can reuse décor from years before or stop at your favorite dollar store for new items. Homemade decorations offer a personal touch that is extra special.
    • Consider your holiday activities. Some traditions, like watching holiday movies or going to worship services, are free while others come with a cost. Budget for the ones that are important to you.
    • Look at options for holiday entertaining. Consider scaling back your celebrations or rethinking how you gather. Maybe you’d like to set up a group volunteer afternoon rather than hosting a holiday party.
    • If you’re traveling for the holidays, make your plans as early as possible to save money. Include this expense in your holiday spending budget as well.
    • Determine the overall amount of money you have to spend on gifts. This will be your gift budget. Set it and stick to it. (If you’re tempted to go over, see tip #4.)

2. Choose budget-friendly gifts. 

Make a list of family, friends, and coworkers you would like to get gifts for before you shop. This will help you to adjust expectations, specifically how many presents in total you will give, and how expensive they each can be.

    • Create a gift list with recipient names and a price limit for each person or pet. (Be sure not to forget gifts for teachers, coworkers, etc.) Then, write down one or two gift ideas for each name. Keep that list in your purse or wallet for easy access when you’re shopping or simply out and about and spot the perfect present.
    • Don’t forget the extra gift expenses. Gift wrap, shipping/postage, and cards can be pricey. Try making your own wrapping paper and cards to cut down on expenses.
    • Shop early. If you wait until the last minute, you are more likely to overspend. 
    • Look out for deals every day. There isn’t much difference between holiday sale prices and Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
    • Look for discounts and price check your gifts. Apps like ShopSavvy allow you to scan a bar code and check the price against other local retailers or online.
    • Make your gifts. Give baked goods and homemade candy. Create a photo album. Give the gift of your time in the form of babysitting or a home-cooked meal. 

3. Keep track of your spending.

Your holiday spending plan is your overall guide. Be sure to consult it regularly to stay on track. This is the single most important thing you’ll need to do to stay within your budget. Here are some supporting strategies that can help.

    • Consider opening a bank account for your holiday spending. Deposit the money in that account that you have budgeted. Then, draw upon that account for your gifts, décor, and holiday activities. Some banks and credit unions offer a short-term account just for this purpose. Typically, you set it up at the beginning of the year and save a little bit each month until the holiday season.
    • Stick to cash only for all of your holiday spending. Take out a sum of cash and divide it among different envelopes for gifts, décor, activities, etc. Then use the cash in the appropriate envelope for any related expenses.
    • If you are using a credit card to make purchases, choose one where you get cashback.
    • Keep track of your purchases with spreadsheets or budgeting apps. Some popular apps include iSpending and CashTrails.


4. Earn extra money.

There’s an easy way to make room for a little more spending this holiday season—and still stay within budget. That would be to add some extra income. 

    • Take on a seasonal job. Retailers are hiring for the holidays and you can get a part-time job that not only brings in money but could earn you employee discounts.
    • Sell your unwanted stuff. Go to websites or apps like eBay, Poshmark, or Facebook Marketplace and sell the things you no longer use or need. This has the added advantage of decluttering your home for the holidays.
    • Give up an indulgence temporarily. If you stop to buy an expensive coffee every morning, now is the time to put that money into a jar. Do the same for dinner out or other indulgences.

5. Start in January for the next holiday season.

Saving over time is the most painless way to get ready for the holidays. Once you’ve gone through the exercise of budgeting, you can use that information to plan for next year.

    • Calculate what you spent on the holidays this year. Divide that number by 12. Then, make a plan to save that amount each month. Set up a holiday spending account at your bank.
    • Take advantage of post-holiday sales. You can get discounted décor, cards, and other holiday-themed items after the holiday. Buy them now and put them away for next year.
    • While the season is still fresh in your memory, write down the traditions that you enjoyed this year and ones that you may want to skip next year. Include any other reflections that might help when planning for the next holiday season.


Happy holidays (and happy spending) from California Casualty!


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

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