Four-legged friends are the true heart of many a home
Neale Whitaker reckons our four-legged friends are the true heart of the home.
OK, let’s deal with the elephant in the room. Or perhaps that should be the Weimaraner in the room. Melbourne photographer Nicole England forgot to feature my boys Ollie and Otis in her beautiful book Resident Dog: Incredible Homes And The Dogs That
Live There (Thames & Hudson, $75). But no, we’re not bitter. We realise every dog has its day and this wasn’t theirs. Still, Nicole, you should know it took some explaining and a lot of Schmackos when I put your book on the coffee table.
England’s book is a gem, although I should add you probably need to love dogs to fully appreciate what the canine touch brings to these sumptuous images of some of Australia’s most architecturally significant homes. In the author’s words, “The presence of a dog allows us to see these homes in a completely different way. Whether they end up in the final shot or not, dogs can bring vitality, warmth and movement to sometimes static spaces.”
For me, England is preaching to the converted. My partner David and I agree that our dogs make our house our home more than any furnishings, clever design, mood lighting or art.
Those things are all important, but the levelling presence of O&O (as we call them) and their unconditional love for their humans and their surrounds is where the magic happens. When they’re not at home, it feels wrong. But when their paws once again sound on the floorboards and they resume flophouse positions on the sofa – their sofa – all is right with the world.
Clues as to the home – and dog – owners lie in the acknowledgements and credits at the back of England’s book, and let’s just say these are pedigree pooches in more ways than one. But on the page, the homes bear the names of neither architect nor interior designer. Instead, they’re the domains of Skipper, Scout, Ginger and Harry, Buddy and Muddy. As dog owners, we all know who really owns the house and so Resident Dog simply tells it like it is. At first glance, the photo captions look as if they’ll contain the usual information about tiles, timbers and textiles, but closer inspection is a delight: “Polly is like Pedro’s shadow, but with better hearing and less farting. She loves warmth and sleeps away most of her day, often roasting herself under the wood heater.” Polly, I want your life.
“Our dogs make our house our home more than any furnishings”
TAILS OF LUXURY (from left) The sleek residence of Enzo the Italian greyhound in Sydney’s Surry Hills; Charlie the spoodle gets to call this wood-walled retreat in Blairgowrie, Victoria, home; (below inset) Neale Whitaker’s much-loved Weimaraners, Ollie and Otis.