Thanks for all your suggestions about cleaning my quilt yesterday. The gummy stuff came off with some gentle scrubbing and left no stain, just the smell, but once I'd rubbed off the gummy stuff, I had to get the kids from school. When I returned the patches had dried and I had trouble finding all the patches needing odour treatment. I could smell the fish but had trouble pinpointing exactly where I should be treating. So in the end, I went with Katie and Christine's suggestion, took a deep breath and dumped the whole thing in the washer and dryer after all.
Here's what I discovered. I lack confidence in my workmanship. I'm always sure that when I put a quilt in the washer, even on the gentlest cycle, all those stitches, both machine piecing and hand quilting, will just pull apart. I'm always convinced that I'll find tatters when I pull the quilt out of the washer. Maybe the colours will all bleed, even if I pre-washed the fabrics (and did I forget to pre-wash some?). When that doesn't happen, I dread the dryer because maybe the batting will shrink too much, or the weight of the wet quilt tumbling around will pull the stitches apart... You get the idea.
I blame all those quilting books that I love to read, that all have a section on "care of quilts" that insists on gentle hand-washing and laying flat to dry, and expounds on the dangers of regular laundry detergent and the necessity of supporting the massive weight of a wet quilt, and so on and so forth. There were no quilters in my family, so no quilts, so no other experience to go on. So I stressed about washing my quilts.
I'm over that now :) . My quilt survived its washing and drying just fine. Maybe it won't last a hundred years and be passed down to generations to come (or maybe it will!). I've decided that I make my quilts to be used and enjoyed now, and any longevity is a bonus. If I didn't care about the sun bleaching and the LEGO wearing down the fabric in my son's first quilt as it lay on his bed for 5 straight years, why should I worry about using the washing machine and the clothes dryer?
For those of you who might be wondering, the dog is still alive and well and we are friends again. He really is beautifully behaved most of the time - which is good because otherwise relations with my mom might be a tad strained when she comes back in the spring and collects her pooch. Did I mention we're only dog-sitting?