Recently my family became the proud guardians of a lovely rescue dog from Mexico. Canela (Spanish for “cinnamon”) has undergone quite a transformation from feral to family, and in the process she has made our lives much bigger with her quiet and loving presence. As her photo suggests, she’s a big girl. Her mellow nature allowed her to integrate into our home almost effortlessly.
There are lots of practical considerations in how pets occupy space in a home: feeding, sleeping space, access to outdoors, grooming, allergies (yours AND theirs), cleanliness. There are relationship issues too — their role in the family, conflicts that may arise with other pets, the possibility of additional pets in the future. Pets occupy a lot of different roles in a household: seen but not heard; surrogate children; beloved companions; exercise buddies; sources of entertainment; working animals; outside/inside or both.
When building or renovating, don’t forget to plan for your pets. Do they need independent access to the outdoors via a pet door? Once there, do they need shelter from the elements, a place to access food and water? Would an outdoor run or a sunny aviary be an asset? Will outdoor pets reenter the house freely, or would you rather limit access? Where do they enter, and how will you deal with any dirt tracked inside? Maybe a vestibule or mud-room is the answer.
Then there’s the question of where to put all your pet’s stuff: the dog/cat bed, the bird cage or aquarium, the feeding station and toys, the cat condos, grooming equipment – the list goes on. These are questions that I routinely ask my clients when we’re planning a home. Whatever size or shape your non-human family members assume, it’s important to consider the size and shape of the spaces they occupy.