Deconstructing the House

Photographer’s notes:

Please have the home prepared before the photographer arrives.
1. Turn on every conceivable light.
2. Open window coverings.
3. Remove pool hose, pool supplies and backyard toys.
4. Open patio umbrellas.
5. Remove BBQ cover.
6. Remove cars and trash cans from driveway.
7. Remove laundry, toys and cleaning supplies, brochure stands, etc.
8. Hide the dogs (and yucky evidence of dogs), if any.

My house is for sale and yesterday was the day for taking photographs.  I read the instructions carefully—I like to be prepared.  Numbers one through seven were easy, although removing two very conspicuous red cars, a Suburban and a Corvette, took a bit of doing.  And fortunately I have no brochure stands in my family room, or magazine stands in the bathroom (who has time?) But number eight—“Hide the dogs (and yucky evidence of dogs), if any”— say WHAT?  That was going to take some serious planning.  It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that not everyone loves large gray hairy dogs as much as I do.  It is interesting that horses add ambience because you can’t smell manure in the photographs, and even more interesting that there were no comments about hiding the yucky children.  The horses are pretty and the kids are grown and gone anyway.  But dogs, well, dogs are just yucky.

I tried my best.  I had the carpet, nearly new but already showing the telltale signs, cleaned professionally on Tuesday.  By 8:30 am, the dog beds were all dragged outside and piled on the patio outside the master bedroom, hidden from every conceivable camera angle.  The dog bowls were emptied and neatly stacked in the pantry.  The crates in the garage had new clean pads installed, and smoothed wrinkle free.  The grooming table was stashed behind the crates, out of sight.  The morning “deposits” were scooped and emptied into a heavy duty, heavily scented drawstring bag which was in turn, placed in the small shed where the garbage cans are duly hidden.  The footprints from the previous evening’s wandering through the freshly watered grass were wiped from the kitchen floor.  The three deerhounds themselves were fed early, and were napping in their kennel runs.  The only trace of dog impossible to erase was my vocal little rescued terrier/Chihuahua mix Yoda.  I resigned myself to the fact that the only way to keep HIM quiet was to carry him around with me.  Four hours and one aching left arm later, mission accomplished.  I sent the photos to my kids with the note: “Look ye upon these photographs and know ye, that ne’er before has this house looked so perfect, and ne’er again will it.”  I didn’t want them to miss that one brief moment where we could pretend that we had no muss, no fuss, no chaos, no life, and no love.

Last night I dragged the dog beds back in, and then for good measure–because one girl just finished her heat season, and as sisters often do, the other just started hers—I took throws accumulated from 20 per cent off discount coupons from Bed Bath and Beyond and completely covered the master bedroom floor in a patchwork of riotous color.  I refilled all the water bowls and made sure that the pillows on the couch were fluffed and arranged just the way Queen and Yoda like them.  I made sure that the house, so ordered and neat and perfect for the photographer, was once again, perfect for the dogs.  After all, they are the ones who live here now with me and my husband.  I took new photographs of life as it really is—messy, chaotic, sometimes downright dirty.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

11 thoughts on “Deconstructing the House

  1. We, who live in large ‘dog’ houses, fully understand! Those who don’t understand….well, you just can’t explain it to them….

  2. Your “ life, no love…” quote is right on. I used to fantasize about having a sunroom with French doors where I could have my own little spot of solitude, no dogs or birds allowed. But then I thought about it and realized that meant no dogs snuggled up on or next to me when I was reading or napping. No soft heads to pet. No dog nuzzling into my flank with a contented sigh. What fun is that? Besides, they just would have left nose prints all over the French doors anyway.

  3. What will happen to your dog and horses when you sell? Do you have another home where they can live with you?

    • Patsy, don’t worry! We will be buying another home, smaller with a bit less land, just not sure where yet. I will board the horses if I need to– my ideal buyer would let me pay to keep them right where they are, but that may well be a fantasy! There are several good “retirement communities” for old horses here if one is willing to pay, which I am. The dogs come with me, wherever we go. M

  4. I can so, totally relate! I suppose I am a bit lucky in that the dogs, cats, bird, and fish will be moving to the new house before this one goes on the market but it will be very lonely here without them. I do dream of a “Pottery Barn” home but with all the critters, is is more like a “barn” most of the time; dog toys and beds all over the place…if only the cats and IWX shed as little as deerhounds! Thank you for the smiles.

  5. Love this post….can’t imagine how to make a house a home without dogs and/or associated critters – waaaay too sterile for my taste!

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