Modern Pets: Wild at Heart

Doggone right—glass houses make happier homes for the pets we love and pamper
dogs laying on bed in sunlight

We cuddle them and groom them. We cloak them in sweaters, pay their dental bills, and give them cute names. But deep down inside we know that Alfie and Ruffles, Muffy and Sadie remain wild at heart.

Is it surprising then that dogs and cats enjoy living in glass houses? "All the windows make it a happier place for them because they feel like they're outside even when they're inside," says Carol Cooper, who shares an Eichler in Concord with her partner, two cats, and a Boston terrier pup named Betty.

Humans, too, enjoy the feeling of living out of doors. Joe Eichler, after all, didn't aim his marketing at mutts. But no human, no matter how modern, can enjoy nature as intensely as animals do.

two men and three dogs

When Lynn Drake and family vacation with their schnauzer, Nyles, he suffers. At home in their Palo Alto Eichler, she says, "He spends his entire time looking out through our full-length windows. When we travel, and the house has regular windows, he can't see anything. It's pretty boring. If I were a dog, I'd like to live in an Eichler."

Consider the pair of cats who live with Ken and Carolyn White in their San Mateo Eichler. "They sit at the windows and look outside at the action at the bird feeders like it's their big-screen TV," Carolyn says. "They watch all day."

"No matter how domesticated they are," says Ken, president of the Peninsula Humane Society, "by nature they are animals, and they really enjoy experiencing that exposure to wildlife."

Like many animal lovers, the Whites provide bird feeders—as does Sara Danzelaud, who lives in a San Mateo Highlands Eichler and volunteers at the society.

three basenjis looking out a glass dor

Nothing beats a modern home for pets, says Danzelaud, who has lived on the West Coast, East Coast, and several spots in Europe too—always taking her cats. "I always pick homes wherever I've lived to accommodate the pets, and the Eichler is by far the best home we have been in for our pets," she says.

Indoor-outdoor design provides pets with more than views. They provide a chance for action.

"Squirrel! Squirrel! Go get the squirrel," Jeff Sheldon blurts at his basenjis, sleek dogs with roots in Africa who share an Eichler home in Walnut Creek with Jeff and partner Ty Rollins. The basenjis race into the yard through open sliding doors. "Squirrel-chasing is their favorite activity," Sheldon says.

Ample views can mean the difference between life and death. Danzelaud recently spotted her cat grabbing a bird in the backyard. She raced outside, rescued the bird, held it aloft, and watched it wing away.

stuffed toy basenjis

Linda McLaughlin, who lives in a 1956 Eichleresque home in Woodside, loves the home for its park-like setting. Her cats Cayenne and Carrerra, she says, "really enjoy how close it is to nature." For a time, that enjoyment included attacking birds, which didn't appeal to McLaughlin, who has volunteered at wildlife rehab centers. "I think all living beings have the right to exist," she says.

The solution? She uses 'cat bibs,' tongue-like plastic devices that dangle from a cat's collar. "It's the grooviest idea," McLaughlin says. "It keeps them from being able to pounce on birds, but the cats can still groom themselves, eat, and scratch."

woman and her cat and two dogs

The bibs may eliminate death-by-cat, but McLaughlin's house itself has been known to kill birds. "With so much glass, you have to think about bird strikes," she says. She's placed transparent decals on her windows that do little to hurt the view but "let birds know there's a window there."

"The birds are happy at our house, and the cats are happy," she says. "It's a wonderful existence."

Views that allow owners to keep tabs on their pets when they are out of doors also make it easy to enjoy wildlife. Linda Goodman, who lives in Richard Neutra's 1956 Schwind-Crawford house in Hillsborough, enjoys the nightly show of raccoons and skunks in her yard, attracted by the food she leaves for a colony of feral cats, many of which she has neutered.