A cellphone, a glass dolphin statue, a comforter, crossword puzzle books and carpets: there isn’t much Trudy wouldn’t chew on. Or urinate on. Or break.
Trudy, of course, is a five-month-old Chihuahua.
Shrutika Shridhar, 13, had begged her parents for a year to get her a dog. Little did they know the terror the pint-sized pup could wreak on their home.
“She’s very naughty,” the Class 7 teenager admits.
The Shridhars learned a quick lesson in pet ownership: a dog requires more than just some love and food. The home and its furniture will have to change irrevocably.
As pet store owner Sudhir Sharma says, “You can’t change your entire home,” but certain changes must be made. Cleaning supplies and knick-knacks need to be kept out of reach, and plants need to be moved to safeguard against dirt disruption. It’s similar to letting loose a curious and sometimes untrainable child in the house. For example, most knick-knacks must be kept out of reach.
Shrutika warns that Trudy will run off with everything in her mouth if not carefully monitored. “We spent all day searching for my dad’s cell phone charger, only to find Trudy happy in her bed, chewing on the charger.”
Nadya Singh’s export business allows her to work from home and keep an eye on her two dogs at the same time. They are not her pets, she insists; they’re her babies. But, occasionally, even her babies have to be sent to their room when guests come over. Not used to being shut up, the dogs have been known to scratch at the doors, wanting to be let out. Nadya installed opaque, acrylic sheets on the inside of the bedroom doors to protect the paint.
Carpeting also becomes tricky. Before proper training, pets will often use the whole house as a bathroom. Nadya recalls how problematic it was to keep her dogs indoors while they were being vaccinated. With no garden attached to her apartment in Mumbai, she was left with few options and a few throw rugs were lost in the process.
However, carpetless floors, especially in the winter, pose a problem for little paws. Chihuahua-sized booties help Trudy, but Shrutika says carpeting is really the only solution. “Otherwise Trudy is so cold, she shivers all day.”
Though some items necessarily have to be removed, plenty of toys and pet accessories can take their place. Beth Warner, an artist, moved to Delhi from Texas two years ago. She brought her three “fabulous” cats, Midi, Thai and Kiki, along for the ride. The cats, according to Warner, were at home long before she was.
She left most of her own furniture in Texas, furnishing her Vasant Vihar home with furniture and objects picked up during her many travels in Asia. However, most of the cats’ furniture came with her from the United States. “You can get plenty of toys and food here, but I had to bring certain accessories from abroad.”
One crucial item Beth brought from London: a water fountain for the cats that imitates a running faucet by constantly pulling the water through a small pump. She says her cats, particularly 18-year-old Midi, prefer running water, but cannot handle the tap water here.
She keeps the fountain tucked away from guests’ eyes in her walk-in closet, a key to maintaining an elegant home. The cats’ accessories, while not hidden, are placed unobtrusively in corners. Upon walking into her house, the eye is drawn to the richly carved heavy wooden furniture, exotic art and plenty of plants, not to the dangling play toy in the study or the cat steps, for her arthritic kitty, by the master bed.
Accessories like the cat steps are just entering the Indian market through distributors like Petland in Delhi, Lal Pet Product in Gurgaon and KPS in Mumbai. Pet owners can also find sleek bamboo sofas for dogs or stylish pink scratching posts through international websites, such as www.ferplatt.com or www.petsmart.com (see sidebar) and order them through local pet stores or through the sites themselves. The cost for these products can run up to Rs30,000, but “people who spend nearly Rs1 lakh on the dog itself are willing to pay for the accessories”, says Sharma, Petland’s owner.
How to pamper your pet:
Savannah bed: A chic sofa for the medium-sized pup, this brown, braided bed lets your dog slumber in style. Available at www.pawprintzpetboutique.com, Rs13,200
Drinkwell fountain: This fountain imitates a faucet with its running water, giving cats their own personal sink and keeping them away from countertops everywhere. Available at www.petsmart.com, Rs2,200
Love scratching post: To avoid all the torn upholstery, give your cat a wild place to file its nails. The post can fit in any corner, but its design is anything but unobtrusive: the white stand gets pink treatment with hanging braids and an emblazoned heart. Very punk rock. Available at www.sittingprettykitty.com, Rs2,400
New Orleans chaise longue: This decadent bed is only for the most southern belle in the bunch. The removable slip-cover comes in moss, sand, coco or cheetah faux fur, for the real wild child. Available at www.pawprintzpetboutique.com, Rs17,600