I grew up with fancy cats. The kind of cats with pushed-in faces and special markings that went to the pet salon every week for a wash and fluff. They had names like Alexander and Natalie and were as gorgeous and well-mannered as they were well-groomed.
Still, all through my childhood, I begged for a dog.
“I’m allergic,” my mother would answer. I didn’t understand how she could know this since I was pretty sure she’d never been within ten feet of a canine — nevertheless, she stood her ground (while she quietly swallowed allergy pills to manage the cat dander).
Then came adulthood. That magical place where they let you pay your own bills, clean your own house, make your own decisions — AND you can have all the pets you want. I knew I wanted to rescue a big dog.
Enter: My Two Dogs Monte and Titus
Monte, returned at a one-year-old when the family realized he wasn’t a Border Collie, is a three-year-old Staffordshire Terrier/St. Bernard/Dane mix.
Titus, abandoned by his owner down south, is a 100% pure, gangly, 15-month-old, Great Dane.
Have you ever seen the movie “Step Brothers” with Will Ferrell? That’s what I think of every time I see them wrestling or knocking a vase of flowers off a table. Two grown men, possessing zero spatial awareness, not a care in the world, just happily tearing up the joint.
People always ask me how I maintain such a clean house. The answer? Constant effort.
My daily routine includes washing the couch and cleaning the sliding glass doors (and the lower windows) daily. I keep spotless counters, zero clutter, and nothing of value out in the open. (For some reason my dogs like to eat eye glasses — the more expensive the better). Why do I do continue to do this? Simply put, it’s too late now. Our dogs are family and like I reminded myself when the children were toddlers: at some point they will grow up and knock it off.
However, until that happens, I live by a few different rules.
1. Indoor/outdoor rugs
Ballard Designs and several other companies make a quality, comfortable, indoor/outdoor rug. They are easy to clean, inexpensive, and knowing that I can steam off the dirt easily allows me to be able to have light colors without worry of permanent stains.
2. Leather furniture
Going back, I might not have gone with white. But the upside is I can wash my couch with a soapy sponge, and unlike fabric or a dark color, I can see the dirt, making it easy to remove.
3. Buy secondhand
I purchased the dogs their own IKEA slip-covered couch. I found it on my local yard sale site for $150 and it came complete with two “new in the package” covers. I wash it weekly and while it washes really well, I will swap out the reserve slip cover for Airbnb season so my guests have one that is fresh and new.
4. Dog beds
My monsters require XL dog beds. If you’ve purchased one of these, you know they aren’t inexpensive. After buying two fancy ($$$) XL dog beds at my local pet boutique, I came home to them completely torn up and fluffy bed stuffing was all over my house. I’m rarely speechless, but this one actually took my breath away. I discovered it was less expensive to purchase a twin mattress and make a platform bed for the dogs.
5. Give your pets their own space
Like children, animals crave security. They like a space of their own where they can retreat when overwhelmed, scared, or just tired. For me, I like having a place to send them when they come in covered with mud and I’m not in a position, or the mood, to manage it immediately. With the addition of an extra tall metal baby-gate, this unused balcony makes the perfect oversized pup crate.
6. Floor mats
Soggy Doggy makes a great extra large doggy doormat. It is ultra absorbent, helping to dry wet, muddy paws, and since its super soft, the dogs like to nap on it. The downside of this particular product is that it is expensive ($90 for the XL), so if you don’t require the extra size, I suggest purchasing a dark chenille mat from your home goods store or bed and bath store. I purchased two chenille door mats and use them under the water bowls to keep the drool puddles to a minimum.
7. Robot vacuum
This is pure indulgence — go ahead and judge. When a friend originally mentioned it, I thought it was a ridiculous idea. Then I borrowed his. My Roomba earns its keep every. single. day. Stop by any time and you will find her gobbling up fur and dust without complaint. Amazing.
8. Keep your sense of humor
Managing animals, of any size, takes time, money, and a lot of patience. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.