Putting "Shed Pal" to the test

Shed Pal is a cordless grooming vacuum that's billed as a mess-free way to control shedding. Here's how the infomercial describes it:

"The secret is the massaging nubs on the u-shaped brush that gently gather the hair while the recessed, rotating motor sucks it into the canister."

The pet vac takes three double a batteries and, of course, a pet. I "borrowed" a friend's long-haired cat named Alabaster-, otherwise known as Fat Al.

He's rather aloof, but seemed to enjoy being groomed the old school way -- with his wire grooming brush. Because it's a vacuum, Shed Pal is a little noisy as far as animals are concerned, so with Fat Al that called for a distraction -- food.

The instructions say you should first massage the pet with the vac turned off, so they'll get used to the contact. Then turn it on. At first Big Al was mildly annoyed, but not too annoyed to stop eating. That didn't last for long. After about 30 seconds of the whirring racket, Al got antsy. After 52 seconds, Al was gone.

After two more tries with similar results, I got the message.

Even though I was able to get a considerable number of strokes in with Shed Pal, I got more hair and less hassle, with the old fashioned brush.

Alabaster's owner went next door and tried Shed Pal on her neighbor's German Sheppard and had better success. The dog was a little nervous because of the noise, but didn't dash, and the vac did collect a fair amount of dog hair. According to the Shed Pal instructions, it may take a number of attempts for an animal to associate the vac noise with the soothing massage.

While the vac did work with the German Sheppard, it's owner was only mildly impressed. On a scale of one to four, I give it about a two and a half- maybe a three if you're a person who likes battery operated gadgets, has a pet that will tolerate it, and are disciplined enough to use Shed Pal on a regular basis and keep plenty AAA batteries on hand.