Dog vs. drapes: keep pets in mind when decorating

Joan Fieldstone

January 19, 2015

By: Joan Fieldstone, Home Improv Advocate

In: Interior DesignGeneral RemodelingWindows and Window Fashions

Though neutered, my rescue dog, Clooney, still lifts his leg and urinates indoors on the moldings, furniture legs, and carpeting when he is anxious -- and he's anxious about a lot of things. It's called marking, which is a little different than not being housebroken. He does the same thing outside, stopping every ten or 15 steps to leave his calling card on every tree, shrub, and street sign. In the house, he sneaks off to do the dirty deed so I can't call him out.

I have been forced to confine him when I leave the house because he gets separation anxiety. After I basically urine-proofed the downstairs by buying inexpensive, second hand furniture like a naughahyde 1960's sofa and waterproof, resilient vinyl flooring, he moved his clandestine activities upstairs where I still have carpeting.

Decorating? Pets are a top priority

I thought with time things would settle down, he would be less anxious at home, and all would be well. Then I thought when I began working from home last year and could let him out and walk him during the day that he would stop, but he didn't. All I could think was that at least he got along with my old, sick cat, Cali, and that was more important.

A year ago I had to euthanize Cali and the next day my BFF brought me the three kittens to ease my grief. Clooney, even with his issues, has never tried to hurt the new cats. They get along, but I think he's afraid and envious of them. They are a lot like a gang of little punks who rule the house, which is the problem. He knows I'm not the pack leader, and not being a dominant personality himself, he must feel insecure that I'm a pushover where they are concerned. I've read up on this stuff, but understanding it has not helped overcome the problem.

I need the Dog Whisperer. Unfortunately, animal behaviorists are costly, and if I had to pay for one I'd be even more stressed than usual. I'm a worrier, which I can tell upsets the dog. But I didn't worry enough, apparently, about spending my holiday money on what for me was a lavish window treatment -- four thermal, room-darkening, sound-deadening, full-length, drapery panels in a nothing-short-of-fabulous, iridescent brown that also went perfectly with the color I'd recently picked out for my bedroom walls.

silk drapes

I was somewhat concerned that the cats might shred them. Why didn't that deter me? After all, these are the former kittens who made confetti out of full rolls of toilet paper. But the cats surprised me. They like playing hide-and-seek behind the drapes, but I have not seen even one catch in the lovely material.

It was less than two weeks after my BFF painted the walls and hung the drapes that I saw the stains. That time, the dog only soiled two of them. They are dry clean only. The dry cleaner sent them out, and they came back looking beautiful. But when I hung them up, they had shrunk about five inches! The dry cleaner let down the hems, but those two panels were still a couple of inches shorter when I rehung them. I was beyond upset, but at least they were clean.

Two days later the dog struck again.

Now all four panels are stained and two are too short. This is why you have to remodel and decorate with your pets in mind. I love my drapes, but I love my dog more. No more drapes, no more expensive luxuries. Tomorrow I'm going to cut my losses. The drapes are going back to the cleaner -- this time for alterations. When I see them next, they'll be 63" curtains. Meantime, the dog is wearing a wienie wrap designed for male pooches with pee problems.

Neither solution cures my dog's issues, but guess what? They certainly help the human's stress and anxiety level, which is really what remodeling for pets is all about.

Clooney the rescue dog


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