Fred Hueston 
Stone Care Consultant

The Case of Letting the Sleeping Dog Lie

I woke up one morning, put on my robe and walked out on the porch to a beautiful sunny day—one of those days you knew was going to be special or maybe even strange. For some reason I had this feeling that today was going to be interesting, and little did I know that I was going to be in for a real challenge.  Sure enough, just as I was finishing my cup of jo the phone rang.

“Hello, is this Mr. Stone Detective? This is Mrs. Betty Boulder. I have a white marble floor that has a stain on it and I need some help.” So I started asking her questions in my Colombo style. I run into these stain issues all the time and thought I would just tell her how to apply a poultice and be done with it. But then she told me that the stain was not always there–that it keeps disappearing and reappearing.

Well, this got my curiosity up and I had to take a look. So, I jumped in the ole Woody and headed over to Betty’s house. I pulled up to what looked like the Cleaver’s home from the late 1950’s TV series Leave It To Beaver. I was expecting June and Ward to greet me at the door with Wally and the “Beave” in the background. 

I knocked–and I kid you not–Betty was a dead ringer for June Cleaver. I think she was even wearing pearls with a fashionable dress. She introduced herself, asked me if I wanted some iced tea and led me into her dining room. 

She pointed to the corner where the stain was. “That’s right where it was,” she said, but there was nothing there. So how the heck was I suppose to solve a problem that wasn’t there?

Well, I’m the Stone Detective so I started asking some questions. I asked her what the stain looked like and how long it stayed there, and so on. She told me that the stain was gray in color and it lasted for at least one day.

OK, so now I had to do some serious investigation. My instinct told me that it had to be moisture. The floor was getting wet and then drying. So I asked her if it only happened when it rained. She said, “No, it happens all the time.”

Well, I took out my moisture meter and started checking the walls and went outside to check the exterior walls also. Next, I climbed on the roof knowing that I would find a leak there. Nothing. No sign of moisture intrusion at all. 

I went inside again to take a closer look when something caught my eye. Out in the backyard she had a black Labrador Retriever.  Now, I once owned a black lab and I knew how much these dogs loved water. So, I had to ask.

“Mrs. Boulder, what’s your dog’s name?”

She said, “Sophia.” 

“Does Sophia like to swim in the pool?”

“Oh, gosh,” she said, “We can’t keep her out of the water!” 

“Great,” I said, “I’d like to do a little experiment. Can you get Sophia to go into the pool?” She picked up a tennis ball and threw it in the pool and, sure enough, Sophia jumped right in. She climbed out of the pool, shook up a storm and dropped the ball at Betty’s feet. I asked her if this was her normal routine.

“Yes, it is. We do this almost every day for hours and then I let her in the house to rest.” 

“Um-hum… and where does she lie down when she comes in?”

She pointed to the kitchen and said, “Well, sometimes near the stove and sometimes… over there where that stain appears.”

“Bingo,” I said. Sophia was the stain. The moisture from her hair was soaking into the stone and leaving a wet mark. Of course, it would dry out overnight and the stain would be gone. So, I said, “Mrs. Cleav– I mean Mrs. Boulder, it’s only moisture from Sophia. If you’re going to continue to let her lie there, I can apply a good stone impregnator, and save you some grief.”

Another dog-day afternoon and another case solved. Now it’s it time to enjoy the weather and head out for some fishing.

The Stone Detective is a fictional character created by Fred Hueston, written to be entertaining and educational. Frederick M. Hueston is a worldwide expert on stone installation, failures, fabrication and restoration. He heads up the leading stone inspection team in the industry at Stone Forensics ( and is the chief technical director for StonePRO Solutions. Please visit and for more info on their services.

Please note a correction to last month’s Stone Detective:  website link for Safe and Compliant is