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#there's a dog on the sofa...

Pepper is going to be 1 year old on July 2nd. It took us ages to decide what kind of dog we wanted. In fact, we started thinking about it roughly10 years ago. Then we decided to have a baby and the dog idea was put on hold.

A couple of years ago, we started thinking about it again. Our son was not a toddler any more and a boy's gotta have a dog.

There was a long list of requirements. We wanted a breed that was neither too big nor too small, good with kids, not prone to running away in an un- fenced yard. A sociable dog that did not require excessive amounts of exercise and would be equally happy in the city and country.

The debate went on and on. We stopped strangers in the street and asked them about their pets (Everyone assured us they had chosen the best breed, which didn't help narrow the field) our son was adamant that he wanted a "pink Labradog". Then, one Sunday in Rhinebeck NY, we encountered the most ridiculously adorable puppy. He was a Sheepadoodle- half old English Sheepdog, half Poodle, and that was that. The decision was finally made.

All of the reputable Sheepadoodle breeders had a long waiting list, so we had to wait seven months to meet our puppy. Our son had already decided he would be called Pepper so we used the time to plan what kind of dog owners we would be.

One of the things we were clear on was that the dog would not be allowed on the furniture. Sheepadoodles are very smart so it would be easy to train him to keep his paws off the upholstery.

We were right- and wrong. Pepper is very easy to train. We are not. As it turns out, there is nothing we love more than lounging on the sofa with a furry dog blanket snoring on top of us.

Pepper is now officially allowed on the furniture - and instead of worrying about how he will mess it up, we think he makes our home look better than any decorative item. He is a gorgeous, happy, ball of black and white fluff with a shiny black nose, and has incredibly beautiful fur, that looks better than any Mongolian sheepskin pillow in the living room.

We long ago decided that there was to be nothing precious and untouchable at home. We are pretty selective and obsessive about how we decorate our homes and we are certainly unwilling to sacrifice looks for practicality but we have found a way to balance both.

Washable soft furnishings are essential: throw pillows, seat cushion covers and especially white or cream slip covers. Contrary to what many people believe, these are very easy to maintain. They can all be thrown in the washing machine every couple of weeks and give the room a relaxed, freshly laundered look. Rustic, reclaimed wood floor boards add character to a room with dents and scratches, a few more just create a new chapter in their story. Same goes for vintage wood furniture. We like to finish ours with wax, which protects it and gives it a soft glow, without making it too hard and glossy. As for rugs, natural fiber textures and over dyed, vintage Oushaks add texture and depth, and are not too pristine to dog nap on.

Whether you allow your pets on the furniture or not, we believe homes are for living in. For kids and dogs to run and play in, for laughing, loving, fighting, and everything in between.

It is hard to find good looking furniture for pets.If you want to keep your dog off the furniture Below are some great options for dog beds, and other stuff:

Hobo Dog Co. is a great source for unique dog beds - and bandanas. They are hand made in California. Their ticking stripe pet mats are beautiful and come in all dog sizes, from tiny, to giant. $35 to $77 depending on size.Picture from Hobo Dog Co. For link, click on image.

Blink Things Makes handmade rope dog collars and leashes and lovely, modern organic pet tags. They also offer hand sewn and hand printed toys made of all natural materials - good for both kids and pets. Leash from $48 to $62 depending on size. Toy from $20 to $25. Photos from Blink Things. For link, click on image.

Below is another great dog bed, from Adore Custom Pet Bed. I love the feed sack stripe and natural color. $140 to $255 depending on size. Photo from Adore Custom Bed pet. For link click on image.

We looked and looked for a neutral dog bed. Finally found this one from Sparky Dog Club. It looks like it is made of natural and grey color linen but is durable and washable. It will enhance any decor $45 to $100.00 depending on size. Photo from Sparky Dog Club. Click image for link

Does your pet go on the furniture? leave your comments below. If you are enjoying Hapeman Hill, please follow us and share it with anyone you think would like it!

All Pepper pictures by Ian Cartwright.

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