Four-Legged Love

February is a month when everything focuses on love. Chocolates. Flowers. Romantic dinners on Valentine’s Day. There are so many ways people celebrate relationships with each other,

However, there is a type of relationship that does not involve all the special day amenities. With this kind of love, every day feels like a holiday, and it’s almost certain to last a lifetime. Honest Abe homeowner Russell Saunders has that kind of relationship with his rescue cats, Charlie Girl, age 1, and feline brothers Gypsy and King Malibu, who are 6; along with his 12- year-old labrador, Roxie.

“Animals are as innocent as and similar to your children,” Russ observed. “They give and receive love unconditionally.”

He admitted that the best part of the day is settling in with a lap full of cats with Roxie nearby.

Russ, who has been an Independent Dealer for Honest Abe Log Homes since 1999, built his own West Virginia home in 2004. He chose 8″ x 8″ round logs and used a customized version of the Honest Abe Navajo plan for the interior and a modified Bellewood plan for the exterior.

Russ’s pets became family members after he built his home, so living in a log cabin is all they’ve ever known.

“Cabin life is hard,” Russ said, commenting on the photo (above) of Roxie and Gypsy sprawled by the hearth. “”Their personalities are so different but one thing for sure, they are full of energy and love to snuggle around the fire.”

Designing a home to share with pets.

For those planning a log or timber frame home for their current or future furry family members, here are some questions you will want to ask yourself and address during the design phase if you plan on living with pets.

  1. What is the size of your pet?  Make sure there is enough space for them to move around comfortably, including room for them to sleep, eat and play.
  2. Is there a safe and secure area for them to be when you’re not home?
  3. Are the materials you plan to use durable and easy to clean in case of accidents? Hardwood and tile floors may be easier to clean than carpet, for example.
  4. Does your cat like having vertical space to climb and scratch? Why not plan for enough space install a scratching post or a cat tree?
  5. Where will the animals be allowed to potty? Think about the location of your cat’s litter box. It should be easily accessible for your cat, but also in a location that is convenient for you to clean up after them. Same is true for your dog’s potty area.
  6. Think about the location of your pets’ food and water bowls. Are they easily accessible and in a convenient location?
  7. Is the home safe? Are there any toxic plants or chemicals that could be harmful to your cat or dog? Are there any areas of the home that are not safe for them to access (e.g. a pool without a fence)?
  8. If your pet is aging, do you need to ramps or steps for pets with mobility issues? Can they easily get to their food and water? Would an orthopedic bed be helpful?

Making the adjustment easier.

Once you are ready to move into a new home, it is important to help your pets adjust, especially if they are older. Keep their routines as consistent as possible. This includes feeding times, walks and playtime. Bring familiar items from their old home, such as toys and bedding.

Set up a safe and comfortable space for them in the new house. This could be a crate or a designated room where they can retreat to when they need some alone time. Gradually introduce them to the new surroundings. Allow them to explore the new house at their own pace and give them plenty of time to get used to the new sights and sounds.

Spend quality time with your pets and give them plenty of love and attention. This will help them feel more secure and help them adjust to their new environment. However, you want to consider hiring a pet sitter or dog walker to help with the transition. This can help alleviate some of the stress of moving and allow you to focus on getting settled in your new home.

Remember to be patient with your pets as they adjust to their new surroundings. It may take some time for them to feel completely at home, but with love and care, they will eventually settle in and love your new home as much as you do.

“Success and achievement can be measured in designing a plan properly the first time,” Saunders observed about building a custom log home. “Success begins with an idea and approach to create something wonderful and everlasting that will give your home a sense of warmth and character.” 

Roxie, Gypsy, Charlie Girl and King Malibu could not agree more.

Story: Claudia Johnson, Honest Abe Log Homes

Photos: Russell Saunders, Log Homes of West Virginia 

Roxie, 12, was the Saunders’ first dog. Russ calls her “the best dog ever.”

A rescue kitten, Charlie Girl was six months old in this photo, but she’s now  had her first birthday and feels right at home as can be seen below.

King Malibu, above, and his brother, Gypsy, below, are 6-year-old rescue cats.