Saturday, April 26, 2014

Gone to the Dog (and the Cats)

I used to be a fairly decent housekeeper. Like most women, I had been brainwashed to believe that a tidy house somehow mattered. A few things have disabused me of this insane notion, the most recent being the presence of a yarn-covered chair sitting on the coffee table in my living room.
"What," you may ask, "Does that have to do with anything? And more importantly, what does that have to do with Ray the Blind Dog?"
(This is going someplace, I promise) The yarn-covered chair sat on the coffee table for months with nary a person noticing it.
"You were probably wondering about the chair on the coffee table," I would say to my guests at some point.
"What chair?" was the usual response accompanied by such a totally blank look that I knew they weren't just being polite.
This rather defining moment in my life made me wonder why they hadn't noticed the chair and made me look at my house to see what they could possibly be noticing instead. I realized as I wandered around our home, that it had, quite literally, gone to the dog (and the cats).

To the cats: Harvey's Playground
Since no one ever notices the chair, and since it is Harvey's playground of choice, the chair remains in situ. I have it on good authority (one of Ray's die-hard fans), that unless the Queen comes to visit, I don't have to EVER take down the chair, and since I rather like looking at it, the chair will stay as long as it pleases Harvey and me.
To the dog: Foam corner with elastic band
The corners of the coffee table upon which the chair sits have always been a bit of an issue for the blind hound; even more so with the advent of his new cats. It's a very small room, and sometimes excitement causes Ray to forget where he is in space. So, looking for a way to bumperize the coffee table, I found these firm, foam corners designed specifically for moving furniture. They are terribly ugly and I have promised to come up with a better solution, but until then, they do the trick. Ray has ceased to injure himself on the corners of the coffee tables. If you look closely, you may see a very thin, black elastic band that I have strung through the foam and which runs all the way around the table to hold the bumpers in place; otherwise they would pop off whenever they were brushed against. So, for now, both of our coffee tables have ugly foam corners.

To the cats: Juno's roll of toilet paper
The dummy roll of toilet paper is for Juno. Realizing that throwing away a roll of toilet paper every time Juno felt the urge to destroy one was a waste of money, I decided to just leave one in place for her to shred. The real roll resides on the back of the toilet.

To the dog: Ray's chair-cover
Ray's chair-cover is a bit of a Potemkin Village. I doubt if any of my friends are gullible enough to believe that this is the only place that Ray sits in the living room, especially since Ray will climb up next to whoever happens to be sitting on the couch or try to force them out of Gregg's chair if they should make the bad decision to sit there while they are visiting. But somehow I just can't bring myself to admit that my dog owns every piece of furniture in the house.

To the dog (and probably the cats): Basket cover
I thought how lovely it would be to have a basket full of roving that I could dip into whenever I wanted to spin a hank of yarn. After finding this, I was forced to construct a lid for my lovely basket of roving. It used to have a stack of books on top of it because Ray figured out how to get past the lid, but at some point he stopped trying so hard. Now a knitted bowl  (that doubles as a really bizarre hat if turned upside down) resides on top. To be fair, although Moonie and Hugo eschewed yarn and wool, Harvey and Juno are much more attracted to it so this basket cover is now dual duty.

To the dog: Ray's spot to the right,
and now to the left and in the center

Used to be, Ray liked only one end of the couch in the family room. The end changes occasionally but lately it's been the one with the real wool fleece. Since the arrival of the wool hobo blanket (shown inelegantly bunched up on the back of the couch),  Ray has decided that both ends of couch merit equal attention. So now the entire couch is draped. It's not the dog hair that I consider a problem, it's the hound smell. If you've ever had a hound, you know what I'm talking about. Unlike an entire couch, all of the coverings seen here can be thrown in the wash.

This cat mat is totally unnecessary, but I made it for Juno and Harvey to lie on while they are in the kitchen. The heated tile floor attracts cats like rawhides attract Ray, and this mini hobo blanket gives the kitties a nice fuzzy place to lie. It's also good in a pinch for wrestling with.

To the cats: Cat mat (mini Hobo blanket)
Wrestling with the cat mat.
To the dog and cats: The gate

It kind of goes without saying, that where there is cat poop, there is a dog who wants to eat it. This gate separates cat boxes from the dog population. 

To the dog and cats: Cat feeding station
The cat-feeding station is dual-purpose; it gives the cats a safe place to eat and it keeps Ray from getting serious digestive issues. Since it is upstairs, in general it would not be noticed by random visitors to our house. But then, we've pretty much established that in general, people don't notice a yarn-covered chair sitting on a coffee table so they probably wouldn't notice this.

To the dog: Dog keeper-outer
When first we brought Ray home, when Moonie and Hugo were still alive, it was very necessary to keep the dog from the cats. They were terrified of Ray and he wanted to eat them. Now that Ray loves cats, the hook and eyes (except for the one on our bedroom door) are relics of the past. We still need  one, not to keep Ray from the cats, but to keep him from spooning Gregg at night. It's hard to sleep with 75 pounds of dog hogging the bed. Gregg arises at five. There's a reason the hook and eye remains in place.

To the cats: The bow window and cat bed relocation
When we undertook the large-undisclosed-amount-of-money-dog-door-project, one of the things that was done was an old airing porch was ripped off the back of the house and the door to that porch was replaced with a bow window. We chose a bow window especially for the cats, so that they would be able to sit and watch the birds at the bird feeders. We figured, if Ray got a dog door, something equally nice should be done for the cats. Moonie was too old to ever use the windowsill but Hugo used it occasionally when he was feeling brave enough to leave the sanctuary of the cat room. The arrival of the new guard (Juno and Harvey) brought the dissolution of the cat room and the relocation of the cat beds to their new favorite hangout. 

To the dog: Ray's futon with red wooly blanket
The futon was actually supposed to be used as an extra bed if we ever needed it. At some point, Ray appropriated it as his own. Since no one else ever used it, it now belongs entirely to him (and Harvey when Ray isn't around.)

Juno is the only cat I've ever had that doesn't really care if she sleeps with humans. She tried it a few times but decided, that for the most part, she prefers her own space (unless she's sleeping under my chin). At first she slept on the cat perch, but the winter cold seeping through the window panes made her reassess her sleeping arrangement. She then chose the hamper on the opposite side of the bedroom. Since it didn't look particularly comfortable, now before Juno goes to bed at night, I top the hamper with the wooly blanket that protects the bedspread from hound smell during the day. Juno seems quite content with her new spot and only leaves it occasionally to sneak-attack Harvey in the middle of the night.

To the cats: Juno's former night quarters
To the cats: Juno's current night quarters 

To the cats: Butt-friendly windowsills
Everyone who has cats knows how important windowsills are to them. So, every time I redo a room in the house, I make the windowsills wider so that a cat-butt fits comfortably. I can tell that the cats appreciate the wider windowsills, because these are the favorites and are used over and over again. I still have a few rooms with narrower windowsills. Eventually, they will all be upgraded to be cat-butt friendly.

To the dog: Scented sachets 
Oddly, these little wool bags attached to door jambs throughout the downstairs are noticed more often than the yarn-covered chair sitting on the coffee table. Visitors to the house ask what they are for or ask if they are there so that Ray has something soft to bump into. But their real purpose is to keep Ray from bumping into walls at all. Inside the bags are cotton balls scented with lavender. Every so often, when Ray starts to pass a little to close to the door jambs, I recharge the cotton balls with a drop or two more of the essential oil. Ray didn't often bump into door jambs, but since I have started to do this, he has not bumped into a single one.


  1. OMG, I'm dying because this is SO TRUE! Pre-dogs, my home was always immaculate. These days, no one is allowed to visit unless I clean for two straight days beforehand. All furniture is covered with throws or slipcovers (which are always filthy), there's a ratty old blanket covering my bed. There's a microfiber runner over the carpet on the stairs. Baby gates are everywhere. Floors are always disgusting. A humongous round dog bed takes up most of the floor in the living room. Let's don't even start on the yard! But it's ok - we are happy in our dog-sty :)

    1. I know how it is. Isn't it funny how easy it is to get used to chaos and dirt?

  2. My house too! After all there are five dogs that live here, and only three humans. Their needs should come first, right? I could vacuum every five minutes and there would still be dust bunnies made of dog hair everywhere, so I don't. We actually don't let people into our house, unless I have cleaned recently. So no visitors this year (kidding, sort of).

    1. I knew it was time to swiffer the hardwood floors upstairs when I walked into the bedroom and said "Hi Juno" to what turned out to be an enormous dust bunny. With all three of them shedding right now, I can't keep up with the pet hair.
      We stopped having people stay at the house when we turned the guest room into an infirmary for Moonie. Now that she's gone and the guest room is back, I'm open to visitors as long as they give me plenty of lead-time to clean the house.

  3. My house is similarly tricked out for the comfort of my dogs. I'm glad to hear that the yarn-bombed chair is still in situ, but kind of disappointed that the Queen hasn't visited. Does she not know how important Ray is to the spread of goodwill and responsible governance of the great state of Virginia? I hope he' doesn't feel slighted.....

    1. Ray does not feel in the least bit slighted. He sees all people as equal givers of bellyrubs, so a visit from the Queen would be no biggie unless she was down on the ground scrubbing his tummy. THEN she would be SOMETHING.

  4. This is not pet-proofing, but pet-enabling at its finest! I applaud you, Madam.

  5. Our house is our home. We dont perch there, we live there...all of us. 1 small dog, 2 lovely cats, a tortoise that lets himself in when we call him, my 10 yr old daughter and I. Is our house white glove ready? NO way. We live here. Cat shelves on the walls, sofa covers for dog hair, cat tree and scratchers and all.
    I am glad to hear of so many others, including you, who let all members of the family live comfortably in the family home. Yay!

    1. What I want to know is, do we have a choice?

    2. Touche....I think once we choose to bring non humans into our homes we have chosen to change our whole ways of thinking about how our worlds should be. I cannot imagine a home without animals. (yes, plural). A permanently spotless house would leave me very uneasy and unsettled. I love the giggles and joy and frustration and calmness my animals bring. Think back before Little Harvey, Dumpling Juno, Ray the wonder dog, sweet Moonpie and Sir Hugo. Could you now live in a house with no pets?? I don't think so. Thank goodness for all our assorted critters. Life would be terribly boring without their influence into our homes.

    3. So true. I grew up with cats and can't imagine a life without them. Even though Ray is my first dog, it feels like we've always had one. Probably because he takes up so much of my day. : D

  6. The dummy roll of toilet paper is my favorite!!! This made me laugh! You know - I AM a little surprised no one noticed that chair! I like it - but I don't know that I would overlook it since it has such vibrant colors! Your house always looks so neat and tidy in the pictures you post on this blog. Note that 99% of the pictures I take are of Blueberry outside...enough said. ;)

    1. Truthfully, the roll of toilet paper is my favorite too. You'd think it would get old, always having shredded paper around, but it cracks me up every time. Juno REALLY gets into it and it is so much fun to watch.
      Isn't it great how photos don't show dirt and how messes can be edited out? Love digital photography!