Susie and Angie are fast approaching middle age, unmarried and still living at home, but that’s fine with me. They’ll always be precious family members.
I love them madly despite their limitations of being able to speak to me only with their eyes and the fact that strangers often spook them — at least until they check them out and make sure they pass the sniff test. If you haven’t figured it out yet, Susie and Angie are my pet Dalmatians that make up the family “pack.”
The overwhelming majority of dog owners (with as many as 60 million households in the U.S. alone) say that they regard their furry friends as family members. And as such, many of them share the joy of nesting in style with their pampered pets, just as I do. After all, as some wise man once noted, “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.”
And what that often means is that we look upon it both as a privilege and a joy to bestow upon our little companions the best that is available today in pet housing and furniture. Really, it’s a great symbiotic arrangement.
We can show them just how much we love them while indulging ourselves at the same time. Nowadays the old saying, “he’s in the doghouse,” truly has taken on a new meaning as more and more of us attempt to provide our pets with the best that our money can buy, despite the economic challenges of the day.
On the upper end of the socio-economic scale, there are those who may want nothing less for their pets than a detailed facsimile of their own home, replete with spacious interiors and wall covering options, even faux painting. Cedar shingles, fixed Plexiglas windows, air conditioning, an operating front door and covered rear entrances, wood shutters and flower boxes and halogen lighting are just a few of the many options to choose from. I kid you not.
These are the kinds of custom luxury dog homes that really are fit for your prince or princess — and may just go for a king’s ransom, as well. A “Swiss chalet” can retail for about $5,500 and a colonial mansion for more than $6,000. And custom beds may utilize only the finest exotic woods and veneers such as a Georgian four-poster in solid mahogany with hand-embroidered fabric and retailing for over $23,000.
Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, there truly are more affordable options that demonstrate our love to our canine kids and complement our surroundings at the same time.
Beds can be modern platform styles, country French, ranch-style, Chinese, art nouveau or standard four-poster traditional. And these don’t have to cost a fortune — several hundred dollars up to $1,000.
But no matter which style you choose, be sure to select one that fits your dog’s size and weight, bearing in mind any physical ailments it might have, such as arthritis, or any allergies. And there are also day beds available for use outside the home, which are often made of sturdy wrought iron that can work with your own patio furniture. Believe it or not, different style beds suit different breeds of dogs.
And when my own pets come indoors, they enter from the backyard through custom designed French doors that feature their very own insert door that I designed to be at the proper height so that Susie and Angie don’t have to bend down too much and maybe injure their backs.
Meals can be served on a custom doggie dining table in whatever style works with your own design motif. And in reality, the elevated feeding table is much more than just a conversation piece: It’s a real benefit to their health and well-being as these tables help to promote proper digestion as well as a comfortable eating posture in dogs of all sizes.
And what better place for them to relax and take a snooze after dinner than on a sofa or chair built just like quality human furniture? These pieces are so well-made that they can be reupholstered and literally last a lifetime. High-quality upholstery fabrics can be used that will stand up beautifully to wear and tear and can be cleaned by brushing, hand-washing or dry cleaning.
Cushions and mattresses are now made with polyester “fabu-fill,” which is extremely comfortable for your pet and allows the cushions to retain their original shape. The cushions are made with cotton-zippered cases that can be removed for cleaning.
And as an extra safety precaution, the interior cushion is waterproofed to stop accidents from soaking through.
And finally, box-pleated skirts and matching or coordinating throw pillows finish off the pieces for that designer look that will complement your living room furniture and add charm to your home.
And for those of you curious as to where and how Susie and Angie sleep in my home, well can’t you guess? They snooze quite happily in their own room on their own velvet covered orthopedic beds. A dog’s life, indeed!
Stephen Leon is a licensed interior designer and president of Soleil Design (www.soleildezine.com); he has been designing and manufacturing custom furniture and cabinetry for more than 25 years. He is past president of the Central California/Nevada Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers and is a certified professional in green residential design. Questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.