Having a dog in my life has always been a priority. I just never intended to have three. Who in their right mind would have three dogs, I ask myself every time my pack greets me at the door as if I am an ice cream cone on a hot day.”
Before you put me in the category of those women who have 17 cats, where I may belong, let me explain. Four years ago, I was sadly petless. When DC came to the table, and later the altar, with Peapod as a package deal, I was delighted to have a dog in my life again. Peapod did not share my enthusiasm. She still finds me superfluous. Because I wanted a dog that loved me, two years ago, I adopted Pippin.
All was domestically under control, so, naturally, we had to mess that up.
Four months ago, not long after I thought it safe to buy a beautiful off-white sectional for the family room, we rescued Luke (better known around here as MarmaLuke or Lukamotion or Luklear War) from one of our kids. The rambunctious, one-year-old, 50-pound hound had become too much for a household with two working parents and two tots under three.
With a head like a wrecking ball, a tail like a whipsaw, and the hind legs of a wallaby, MarmaLuke crashed into our home, a hand grenade detonating several décor and lifestyle changes, all of which have made us – if not our home – better.
Because I am not suggesting you follow in these pawprints, I’m listing here eight reasons not to get a dog. However, if you get one anyway, here, too, are some doggie décor and lifestyle tips to help make them a beautiful part of your home:
They want in and out. As the poet Ogden Nash said, “A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.” Fortunately, today we have electronic dog doors. Pets wear smart keys on their collars, which unlock their pet doors so they go can in and out at will.
They track in dirt. Years ago, I learned that the easiest way to live with dogs, children and messy spouses was to meet havoc halfway. Don’t set yourself up for failure with white carpet and silk chairs. Get flooring the color of your dirt. Pick patterned rugs. The busier the print, the more sins it hides. Select rugs and upholstery fabric that include the color of your dog’s fur. Washable area rugs, like those available through Ruggable (ruggable.com/pages/pets) can give you a leg up when your dog lifts his. The two-part rug system (cover plus pad) comes apart, so you can toss the polyester-chenille topper in the wash, and, per the website, “rinse away stains and odors, including pet hair, dirt, slobber and scooting.” Yes, scooting.
They have accidents. If it’s not one end it’s the other. Buy the industrial size container of Nature’s Miracle and paper towels in bulk.
They get on furniture. You may not mind, but I do. Although Peapod and Pippin know better than to jump on the sofa, Lukamotion is still learning. For the first two months, he treated the sectional as part of his lap track. Had I known Luclear War was coming, I might have shopped for a more pet-friendly sectional, such as those offered through Interior Define (interiordefine.com/kid-and-pet-friendly-fabrics). Find upholstery fabrics made of sturdy synthetic fibers with high rub counts (30,000 plus) like Krypton or Sunbrella. Leather also stands up well. Get dogs their own good-looking beds, so they have a comfortable place that’s just theirs.
They get into stuff. One benefit of this behavior is that Luke, who shares my preference for clean surfaces, has gotten my husband to clean up his prolific paper piles, accomplishing in mere days what I have not been able to achieve in nearly four years of marriage. Now, if DC doesn’t clean up, Luke will. For example, shortly after we got MarmaLuke, DC had his family photos, from the 30 years pre-me, organized and sent to scanmyphotos.com to digitally store them for posterity. The DVDs arrived by FedEx. Luke found the package on the counter and chewed it to smithereens. I texted a photo of the damage to Mitch Goldstone, owner of Scan My Photos, who retrieved all the photos from the cloud, and sent me another set of discs the next day. “I have heard many dog-ate-my-photos stories,” he said. “Not all have a happy ending.” Backup what matters. Keep important stuff out of snout reach. Give your pup lots of safe chew toys to occupy them.
They shed. Loose pet fur is a pain, which is why many of my dog-owning friends love their robotic vacuum cleaners, like those made by Roomba (irobot.com/roomba). These Frisbee-size devices roam the house unattended and vacuum pet hair, pollen and whatever the cat dragged in. If you don’t get a non-shedding dog, get lint brushes for your closet, car and office.
They slop. Our pups treat the communal water bowl like a kiddie pool. A one-gallon gravity-dispensing water bowl put an end to their splash fests. They get clean water as needed, and my wood floors stay dry.
They have stuff. If dogs are going to be part of your life, lean in. Design them into your home décor by adding beautiful bowls (Bone Appetit!), fetching treat jars, handsome leash hooks, and hearty toy bins.
Yes, pets require sacrifice. But that’s a sweet surrender in exchange for their affection, devotion and ability to put life’s hard edges into soft focus. A dog may be a small part of your life, but you are all of theirs. Having one is an honor. So, above all, be kind.
Syndicated columnist Marni Jameson is the author of five home and lifestyle books, including Downsizing
the Family Home – What to Save, What to Let Go and the forthcoming Downsizing the Blended Home – When Two Households Become One (Sterling Publishing, Dec. 2019). You may reach her at