Three kids, two dogs and two cats can take up a lot of space. That’s why when Lynette Watson and her husband, Craig, built a home on a 10-acre lot in Edwardsville, Ill., they wanted to make it as pet-friendly as they could.
“We don’t ever plan on moving again, and we knew as we aged we wanted things to be as easy as possible,” Watson said. “We wanted to be able to use as much of this (acreage) as we could, but at the same time, we can’t leave our dogs out because we do have coyotes.”
This is when the idea sparked to create a space that was not only family-friendly, but pet-friendly as well. The first step of the project focused mainly on the family’s two Chinook sled dogs, 5-year-old Yukon and 4-year-old Blaize.
A survey by Kelton Research says 81 percent of individuals consider their pets part of the family, equal to their children, and 54 percent consider themselves pet parents as opposed to pet owners. That’s why it’s not surprising that homeowners are renovating to better suit their four-legged friends. Sites such as Pinterest have a multitude of tips and ideas as to how to go about creating your pet’s dream space, from dog showers to kitty kingdoms.
A room for the dogs
Watson said they selected the mud room as the ideal spot for their renovation: the dogs’ own room.
They started with a doggie door. Watson said Blaize is easily spooked, so they wanted to steer clear of a traditional swinging door. Plus, she didn’t want to risk finding a coyote wandering through her kitchen one morning.
“Instead of a swinging door, it flies straight up and down; so it goes into a little chimney above it, but more or less opens like a garage door,” Watson said. “They will have a special thing on their collar that when they get up against the door and they are moving, it will open the door for a certain amount of time and close down behind them. It only does this if they are moving though, so if they lie down in front of it and go to sleep, it won’t open.”
In addition to easy access outdoors, they also tackled the project of access to water. Watson wanted to create a way to get water to the dogs without the water puddles that usually ensued when the dogs quenched their thirst.
“We found – for lack of a better way to describe it – sort of like a gerbil feeder, where no water comes out until they lick it, but it goes directly onto a water spigot like you would have on the outside of your house,” Watson said.
The spigot itself was around $10 from PetSmart and an additional spigot attached to their mop sink.
Aside from these renovations, the Watsons added a shower wand to the sink, to make baths easier for the dogs and allow the family themselves to wash off. The room also has tile halfway up the walls to make for easier cleaning, comfy dogs beds and special storage for their food and toys.
Creations for cats
However, the Watsons didn’t forget to spoil their cats. Their two cats, Delilah and Dexter, make their home in the laundry room, with a cat door the dogs can’t fit through, so they have a room where they don’t have to worry about the dogs.
Jill Worobec, planner and certified designer at Mosby Building Arts, has designed a multitude of rooms of this sort, and said it can be interesting because a lot of people are very attached to their animals and want them to be as comfortable as they are. In one particular room she designed, the cat has a private bathroom underneath cabinetry that only he can fit inside. In addition, there is a special storage system for food and water.
“For this particular design of the cat cabinet, they had three dogs who were actually eating the feces of the cat, so (the homeowners) were trying to keep the dogs away,” Worobec said. “(With these rooms) you are trying to solve a problem or make the animals more comfortable; either way it’s really fun. You have a goal in mind and you’re solving a distinct problem.”
Plan your projects
Worobec said for those looking into renovating their homes to fit their pets’ needs, she recommends thinking about what they are trying to achieve before embarking.
“Is it aesthetic or is there a problem they are trying to solve? And honestly, how do they anticipate using that space, because if it’s not going to help them be more efficient, I don’t know if it’s necessarily worth it,” Worobec said. “They need to figure out how their animal uses the area and if they will. That was the biggest challenge, trying to find out if the cat would even use (the litterbox) once we did all of it – and I will say the cat does use it, so it was a success.”