Not so ruff ruff designs

If you’re an animal lover you understand how a person can love and adore a pet. They are a family member, a companion, and one who can keep any secrets you may have. (Not that I have any, but it’s good to know that someone in my life can keep their mouth shut simply by enticing them with a homemade treat.) My miniature schnauzer Miss Violet Annabelle Rose Von Schnorkenheimer — known to many as “Miss V” — has a solid grip on my heart, a grip that also tickles my soul, as at any given moment she can look at me with such personality that she makes me laugh. She is cute, no doubt, and continues to amaze me every day with her charm, great looks, and personality. She is my girl and I’m proud to call her my four-legged daughter, as I see no human lineage continuation in sight.

My iPhone, my iPod, my home computer and yes, even my traveling laptop, all proudly display Violet’s photo as the screen saver. I’m hooked, and when she is not around I find comfort in designing spaces that remind me of her.

A simple framed photo will always be the classic way to display your best friend, but how about other creative ideas to embrace your love and devotion? I just might have some new and improved suggestions on showcasing the pet in your life, whether it be at home or your office, and all are easy and doable. Who doesn’t love good pet dÌ©cor anyway?

Feature your Pet

Any digital camera will offer you a high-resolution photo that can be easily turned into your own work of art. Your off-price stores, such as Home Goods, can be the perfect resource for frames and other dog-inspired art. Their offerings are like no other and you can always find something that reminds you of Fido.

I did this for some clients recently:   I went to their home and photographed their pet, Molly, and created a collage capturing the essence of Molly: her princess bed, favorite toy, her human friends and family, her leash and of course the designer water bowls. Having found several fun frames that were different, yet the same color, I enlarged the photos and clumped them together to create an accent wall dedicated to all things Molly. Now I’m sold — I need to do one for Violet.

Take your Dog to work

When I was consulting for a bank, my previous schnauzer, Corky Von Schnorkenheimer, came to work with me several times a week. She was old and spent most of her time sleeping under my desk, but knowing she was there was comforting to both of us. Today, Barbara, my next door neighbor, takes Violet to work with her in New York  when I’m working long days on the set in the studio in the city. Although this is not a regular occurrence, Barbara has outfitted her office with a bed, food and water bowls, and toys galore. Going to work with Barbara is like going to camp!

Your office may not allow you to bring your dog to work, but if they do you’re a lucky person so don’t abuse the privilege. Acknowledge and respect those who may not be interested in your new assistant and keep the excitement of your pet in the office to a minimum.

Also remember you’re at work and getting paid for it. Your dog at the office should be an inspiration to make the deal, get the job done and be more productive. They are not there to be a distraction and make you less productive. If so, this may be the last time they’re invited and although you may not be fired, your dog’s day at the office may be their last.

Inspired d̩cor

My home and office are filled with doggie-themed items. Today the dog dÌ©cor business is booming and you don’t even have to own a dog to benefit from the fun designs. A perfectly placed dog statue on a fireplace mantel, an antique door stopper on a table in a bay window, a pair of iron dog bookends or even Chinese dog dragon figures can meet just about any budget and offer an element of personality and surprise. Let’s remember that we are not talking about collecting items, rather using them as accents. I have a brass pointer dog that I use as a paperweight and I seek out other fun dog-inspired items to add to my home. If you have more than one or two dog-themed items in any one room, you’re becoming a collector and need to distribute these pet dÌ©cor pieces throughout your house. When Better Homes and Gardens came to shoot my home, they wandered around  and pulled things from each room. One comment was that they loved my collection of dog themed items and how every room had a touch of my four legged friend.

A ruff ruff dog d̩cor is a fun and refreshing way to show off your love and devotion for dogs. Whether you share one with a friend or neighbor, your own dog d̩cor items will always capture your heart and attention when spotted in a room.

Book it now

I love to read and I love to collect books on both gardening and dogs. Over time, my collection has grown and enplaned to quite an extensive library. These resourceful books offer me great enjoyment and insight to many gardens and dog varieties to which I would never have been introduced unless they had unfolded in a fabulous book. For example, my dog house designs were inspired by some great luxury dog bedding I saw in a book. I always seek out hardcover books that can stack well on a coffee table with others. They also make a great gift as most people love to get a book on something they are passionate about. Of course one can always find my gardening book in my home, perfectly stacked with other fabulous oversize picture books.

Dogs in the garden

As well as letting your dog out into the garden, you do have other ways to show off your beloved friend in the out-of-doors.

For example, the “Beware of Dog” sign is in dire need of an updated look. Why not design one with your own pet in mind? I have made several signs for our private road over the years and, with a great sign-maker, the sky’s the limit. A simple black profile of your pet, with white lettering, can work. Alternatively, keep it simple with a classic house number with the added touch: for example “Rosebrook Garden- Schnauzer on duty.”

How about a stone dog? Yes, a year-round outdoor dog may be the perfect pet. Ethan Currier recently did a stone sculpture of Violet that is such a perfect representation of her that I questioned if I would keep it indoors. A talented and amazing person, he has a gift that I was proud to embrace and welcome into my life. My stone Violet found the perfect home under my Pee Gee hydrangea. Now this life-size Violet greets all who enter the side garden, no matter what time of year it is.

Slip covers

When you are a pet owner you learn quickly how live with your four-legged friend. Corky and Violet were no exceptions, as each showed me the ropes when it comes to where they want to sit. It seems like once they make up their mind there is no changing it. Both are schnauzers, but Corky claimed the arm chair by the door, while Violet claimed my lap. Slipcovers offer two great benefits. 1-You can order matching remnant fabric and use it as an additional layer of protection. This gives extra protection for the furniture from your dog or a messy guest.. 2- Can be removed easily for dry cleaning or washing.

This idea is not limited to the furniture alone, as Violet’s crate also offers an element of slipcover surprise. Her traditional wire crate also has a custom made slipcover that adorns the unattractive metal bars and I call it a “crate canopy,” . A good friend made it to measure to match my home dÌ©cor color and theme. I have even added two chocolate brown ribbons as a way to hold the rolled-up fabric from the entrance. I tie them in a bow and leave it up for Violet to come and go as she wishes. Should Violet require some privacy I release the bows, allowing the fabric to drop, covering the entrance area. It’s MARvelous, if I don’t say so myself. That said, unless I told you about these slipcovers you would probably never notice them.

Your doggie designs dÌ©cor, whether obvious or hidden from others, should offer both a practical and creative dÌ©cor concept. Your love for your dog should shine through with the accents and special touches you create. Your home, your office and even your car can be personalized with amenities and dÌ©cor that announce that you’re a proud pet owner and willing to show it off. I’ll bow a WOW to that!

And there you have it.