Design WiseShelagh Duncan

Pets & People

By Shelagh Duncan

doghouse-Spanish ColonialWe love our homes, we want them to be stylish and comfortable, chic and cosy. We love our pets too and as they are very much a part of our lives we incorporate things into our homes to make them more comfortable as well with pet doors, pet beds etc. The other side of the coin is that we also have to reduce the wear and tear that pets can have on our furniture and homes.

Royal Palm Interiors

Microfiber fabric is about the best fabric for furniture in our climate anyway, and a good quality, thick microfiber will stand up to a great deal of use and misuse. Add a pet blanket over sofas they like to sleep on. These are easily washed and reduce stains and fur build up. Bathe them often, and have you ever considered a dog cleaning station? These are a great idea – imagine, after a trip to the beach or a walk in the rainy season being able to clean them off before they get in to the house! Think about adding one outside or even in your laundry room if space allows.  Install a hand shower and raised ‘tub’ to reduce back stress – yours, not theirs! And if your pooch is small or getting on in years, adding a couple of steps helps encourage them up there. 

Dog Bed SofaCat condos and cat trees covered with carpet or wound with rope are great for our feline friends, and super-useful dog (or cat) beds that double-duty as end tables are an inspiration for those short on space and big on design. Another great idea is to add a built-in feeding station under your kitchen island or desk in your home office. (sending pic) This can also include a sleeping area and storage for those big dog food bags. For indoor cats there are imaginative litter tray covers that disguise and hide the pan while still allowing Felix access. Some of these are simple do-it-yourself projects, like converting an old TV, or suitcase, or you can ante up and buy the designer variety. 

Mini-WinneThese are the dog houses that are out of this world. Really cool and often outrageous pet pads can look like palaces or pagodas, Swiss cottages or haciendas with bone shaped pools. There is even a Mini-RV (a pooch-sized Airstream).  

We have come a long way from the days of the colour-coordinated bandana and we now have designer duds for our faithful friends – pet paraphernalia is big business. There are doggie booties to keep their feet clean and dry, Doggles, for when they stick their heads out of the car window, Paris Hilton popularised the dog-accessory bag and now we have superman costumes, life-vests and reindeer antlers for dogs. We do love our pets! Well, they are like family… 

And, strangely enough studies have shown that dogs do have some unique, almost human abilities. Because they have co-existed with humans for so long they are hard-wired to pick-up on human social cues. They can actually ‘read’ us. We all know that dogs can learn words and commands. How many times do we have to spell out W-A-L-K, L-E-A-S-H or C-A-R in the hope we can fool them! Even glancing over to the leash hanging by the door can get Fido jumping to attention and tail a-wagging. And that is probably because dogs actually tested higher than one of our closest ancestors the chimp, and higher even than kids at something called “social cognition”, that means basically that they can read our gestures, take cues and even manipulate and predict human behaviour. 

I am more of a cat person – but that’s another story for another day. However, she does think she’s a Rottweiler…! 

So anyway, it is not too strange that we attribute other human qualities to our pets.

Pets, when asked to change the light bulb…

AFGHAN: Light bulb? What light bulb?

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: The sun is shining, the day is young, we’ve got our lives ahead of us, and you’re worrying about a burned out light bulb?

BORDER COLLIE: Right away. And I’ll also replace any wiring that’s not up to code.

DACHSHUND: I can’t reach the stupid lamp!

TOY POODLE: I’ll just blow in the Border Collie’s ear and he’ll do it.

ROTTWEILLER: Go ahead! Make me!

SHIH TZU: Pul-leeze, dahling. I have servants for that kind of thing.

LAB: Oh, me, me!! Pleeeasze let me change the light bulb! Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Please Can I?

MALAMUTE: Let the Border Collie do it. You can feed me while he’s busy.

COCKER SPANIEL: Why change it? I can still pee in the dark.

DOBERMAN PINSCHER: While it’s dark, I’m going to sleep on the couch.

MASTIFF: Mastiffs are NOT afraid of the dark.


CHIHUAHUA: Yo quiero Taco Bulb.

POINTER: I see it. There it is. Right there.

GREYHOUND: It isn’t moving. Who cares?

AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD: Put all the light bulbs in a little circle.

BEAGLE: Light bulb? That thing I ate was a light bulb?

SIBERIAN HUSKY: Light bulb? I ate the light bulb, and the lamp, and the coffee table, and the carpet under the coffee table, and…

CAT: Yawn. Who cares? I don’t need the light to see 

I am bursting with ideas for pet pads now – email me if you need some inspiration!

Until next time.