For the Dogs (and Cats)

By May 19, 2020 architecture, Life

I think our dog Boo is confused.

While moving my office home was an adjustment for me, lately we’ve been noticing that she’s having her own adjustment. Or at least it seems that way.

Because James has worked from home for so long, she’s accustomed to sleeping away the day in his office. Both dogs did (when we still had both) and now she rotates which dog bed she sleeps in. I guess depending on her mood. And she still barks at me when I walk in.

But lately we’ve found her laying in the front entry. Or somewhere in the hall. And occasionally in one of the beds in the master bedroom. Making us wonder if the changed environment has left her a little unsettled and wondering what to do.

When designing, architects can very easily overlook a client’s pets. Our education and training focus so much on how people utilize their spaces. I can remember one professor trying to teach us about how to feel moving through the space.

However, no one ever taught us how to design for pets. Instead we’ve had to learn to ask the right questions as we go along.

Where do you store toys? Where do you feed them and store food and treats? Where does the litter box go? We recently designed a corner cabinet in a laundry room for the client’s litter box complete with a cat-shaped opening. The client never has to see it, and their cat gets a little privacy in return.

Does the dog sleep with you or in your room? In a bed or in a crate? Do you need a doggie door for nighttime sojourns? We learned early on that a doggie door was essential, and our first dog slept in a large crate next to the bed. Sure we couldn’t get our closet door all the way open, but she had been crate-trained and was accustomed to sleeping there.

Even when helping select furniture, we must consider if the sofa needs to be pet-friendly, or if the bed needs to be low enough to allow the dog to jump up freely. Writer Michael Thomas Ford penned a great essay about living with his Labrador and at one point pulling his mattress onto the floor because his dog had pulled a muscle in his back and could not get up on his own.

And who hasn’t seen the Facebook posts of cats hanging in miniblinds? Or pictures of blinds where the blades were broken by a dog who used that spot to watch the world go by? I think my dog may be a little upset that I’ve placed my desk in front of the guest room window and blocked one of her vantage points.

In the 18 years (wow!) that we’ve owned at least one basset, but usually two, we have found ourselves making multiple accommodations. We made certain to mark on the plans for our remodel the doggie door location. And have the contractor build multiple platforms for ease of exterior entry. Our very first dog was even afforded a handicap ramp to get inside the house.

Currently, we’ve ceded the leather bench in the front window at lunch and dinner so Boo can snooze and bark at passersby. We just thought that was a nice place for the bench to go.

So remember when you’re working on your home, if you’re architect doesn’t ask, be sure to let them know about your pets picadilloes. We aren’t taught to, and we can easily overlook your fur babies as we lay out new spaces or rearrange old ones. Because they need their space too, even if it’s something as simple as the sunniest spot to nap in.

Or that bench you never use. At least not anymore.

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