A Dog’s Life

Every dog has its day, right? These days it seems as if dogs are living the high life. We’ve seen a growing number of adorable pooches who have their own Instagram and Facebook profile pages as well as a large following. Everywhere I’ve traveled recently, it has been easy to find hotels that are “pet-friendly,” complete with dog treats and courtesy leashes in the lobbies.

At The International Surface Event in Las Vegas, I listened to some entertaining “dog tales” from the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) team about Woodrow Forest Barker, aka “Woody.” He has become the NWFA’s adored mascot. As the NWFA team told cute stories about Woody, I couldn’t help but think there are a lot of Woodys out there that hold special places in the hearts of the dog lovers who are also choosing furnishings and flooring for their homes and offices.

Homeowners and office owners alike are now designing spaces around the needs of pets and are choosing products that will live up to the daily wear of tiny (or large) paws. If you spend any time searching HGTV.com, Pinterest, or Houzz you easily will find posted photos of “pet projects” that feature custom-tiled dog bathing areas, and comfy indoor air-conditioned and heated kennels fit for a king (or a King Charles Spaniel). Beyond dog-specific areas, the human-occupied spaces also include custom details like built-in dog feeding areas within the kitchen cabinets and fashionable dog sofas and beds with cushions upholstered in colorfully patterned fabrics.

Speaking of fabric, check out the expansive selection of upholstery fabrics by companies like Sunbrella, Crypton, and other performance brands. For years, the family dog wasn’t allowed on the furniture because of the damage it could cause, but now upholstery choices are being made based on what would be pet-friendly and easily cleaned. Now the family dog might have its own sofa covered in Crypton fabric with designs by either William Wegman or Thibaut.

According to a 2015-2016 survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 65 percent of U.S. households, or about 79.7 million families, own a pet. The pet industry is expected to surpass its $62 billion record set in 2016 according to the APPA. “The pet humanization trend is alive and well and continues to drive growth at the premium end of the market,” said Bob Vetere, CEO of APPA. “As Millennials prepare to take the reins from the Baby Boomer generation as the primary demographic of pet owners, they stand to develop this trend further.”

Pet owners are a very diverse group of consumers. Young singles, newly married couples, young families, empty nesters, and retired seniors are just some of the types who are dog owners. Regardless of the age or phase in life, dogs enhance our lives in some wonderful ways. Whether young professionals or retired seniors, many feel that owning a dog is an ideal solution to living alone. Pet ownership can provide for social opportunities with other pet owners. Pets, especially dogs, can help you connect with other people, helping reduce stress, loneliness and giving a sense of responsibility and purpose that contributes to overall well-being.

We’ve witnessed the influx of pet-friendly flooring options over the past few years as demand has grown. It goes without saying that hard surface flooring is easier to maintain when cleaning up not only spills, but also pet accidents and muddy paws. There are numerous hardwood floor options that are incredibly durable and stand up to daily wear quite impressively. Aluminum oxide finishes have eliminated a large percentage of typical surface scratches, and current flooring trends happen to include many species like white oak and hickory species, which are inherently harder than some others. Further, current hardwood trends such as low to zero-gloss, face-sawn, wire-brushed and various other distressing techniques make for a very forgiving flooring aesthetic as compared to the higher gloss, smooth wood floors of 20 years ago. Suffice it to say, consumers need not compromise on the style or quality of their hardwood floors if they have a dog to consider; they merely need to be cognizant of the wood species, the type of finish used, and adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance for cleaning.

As we move into this economy that follows the recent presidential election, we’ll continue to see the introduction of more and more pet services, pet-centric products, and pet home products. Hopefully, we will also see more hardwood flooring companies provide comprehensive and relevant information to consumers on dog-friendly wood flooring options.

Emily Morrow Finkell is an interior designer and CEO of EF Floors & Design, LLC in Dalton, a provider of hardwood floors and home furnishings, and NWFA design contributor. She can be reached at kikermorrow@gmail.com.