Choosing decor for my pet...

I can remember the my enthusiasm for getting some new furniture in the aughts (circa 2004). I was excited about the opportunity to choose new seating that reflected my style.

I chose a chocolate brown new love seat and sofa combo, which fit my living room like it was custom made. I waited patiently for my delivery, and then it arrived.

I imagined the leather would wipe clean. I thought the dark color would be resistant to staining. And most importantly, I thought the leather texture would be impervious to pet hair. GOOD-BYE, sticky pet hair pick up!

I was so happy when the sofas arrived, they looked great and they were comfortable. My kittens liked them too. In no time, they made quite a few long vertical scratches on the arms. I contacted the vendor to try to get a sofas repaired under the warrantee, but I was told damage due to pets was not covered.

So, I taught my cats to scratch on appropriate toy posts, and I permitted them to take great joy in destroying a woven waste paper basket. I told myself the sofa damage was on the side and the back, and no one would notice. I found that we crazy cat ladies and dog moms learn to live with some of minor home decorating done by our pets, and it is not worth getting too upset about.

In actuality, the leather couches performed well for many years. The sofas were relatively easy to vacuum, and could be made more cozy by adding a throw when needed.

Finally, the dogs finished off the sofas. I let my dogs sit on the sofa, and I give them high quality digestible rawhide. The dogs were in the habit of chewing rawhide while sitting on the leather sofas, so in their minds it must have seemed natural to move from licking the rawhide to licking the sofa. Eventually licking the sofa progressed into ripping large chunks out of the cushions, and a decorating decision had to be made.

It took some effort, but I eventually found the couch shown at the left (being modelled by Tina). This sofa was ideal because the frame is on the outside. The fabric wrapped cushions rest on top of the frame, which is made of painted wood. This style may remind you of outdoor furniture or futons. It is definitely a style that says casual or Scandinavian; these sofas would be out of place in grandma's traditional overstuffed living room.

One day, I will make custom fabric covers for the cushions. And if a cushion becomes soaked or ripped, the foam interior can easily be replaced. Since taking this picture, I replaced the crochet afghan with a commercially available quilted sofa cover. The cover is draped and tucked in when in use. I purchased three covers, so I can wash one, while the other two are being used. This is the best sofa solution ever!

You may have noticed the two foot porcelain tile floor. I had this floor installed in the living, dining and bed rooms shortly after buying the leather sofas. In contrast to the leather sofas, the floor still is in new condition. I can remember the sales man's surprise when I ordered this floor. At the time, tile was mostly reserved for kitchens and baths. However, the dog made so many stains on the wall-to-wall carpet, I knew that replacing with more rug would not result in a lasting solution.

My husband is not fond of the floor, because he feels it is cold on his feet. However, tile can tolerate anything the pets can do. The pets can't rip up the tile, and spills are easily cleaned. But the most important feature is the vacuum does a great job of pet hair removal. For me, tile floor was an excellent investment. My realtor says that a prospective buyer may not like the tile. However, tile is a permanent floor covering solution; it is easily covered with an area rug for a quick and temporary change, if desired.

Now, there are beautiful 2'x4' wood look floor tiles, as well as high quality vinyl plank tiles to consider. Both of these floors are durable and have the appearance of wood. And since these floors are water proof, I imagine the floors are also pet proof. I remember in the eighties when laminates became commercially available, and sales people were saying this material was suitable for animal hospitals, but I was skeptical. And rightfully so, since the thin veneer of laminate is easily scratched, and cleaning with water can warp the floor. However, I installed laminate in my home, and found the floor to be durable and affordable.

It can be tricky to try to keep the pets off of the furniture. Furthermore, if your pet lives inside, he will need some ways to stretch his legs. For me, minimalist decorating works best. I have a few sturdy pieces decorating the table tops within the pet's reach; so far, my dog is keeping away from them, probably because she is not sure how these decorations will react if she moves them. For those table tops that are irresistible to explore, nothing is on the surface. Having less stuff on table tops makes it easier to dust and makes the house look neater and cleaner. Anything that reduces the time that I must spend cleaning means that I will have more time available to play with my pets.

Having a doggie dog that opens onto a securely fenced patio with a locked gate is extremely helpful. I found a pre-made panel that my husband installed in the sliding glass door opening. I found that dogs of all sizes, ages, and abilities learned quickly to eliminate outside by walking through the doggie door. This also means that we can go out without fear that there will be an 'accident' waiting for us inside; this is a win for us and the dog. If the weather is cold or rainy, the dog still eliminates outside without my immediate assistance. Also, if the dog gets up at 4am for a bathroom break, I can stay in bed.

Previously, I had house plants and pets, but not any more. Many house plants, including the pothos in the picture on the left, are toxic. Even a plant that a pet shows no interest in, can suddenly become a curiosity. Furthermore, plants that are not listed as poisonous can cause vomit and diarrhea if eaten by a pet.

I found a solution that allows us to have the fun of plants in the house without fear of pets eating the plants is to grow hydroponics. I love the color of this Swiss Chard (pictured above), which is edible. Yes, it is possible that the pets may touch the grow lights or try to drink the nutrient solution (plant water), but I have not come across this.

Using these ideas helps to keep the pets in the center of our homes. I own a baby gate and a crate, but I rarely need to use them. I hope you found a suggestion here to help you to live your best life.

Maureen Kubisz, DVM, CVA

Total Pet Hospital LLC

1100 US Highway 9

Howell, NJ 07731

(732) 780-4499

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