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Neale Whitaker on living with pets

'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that two men in possession of a good home must be in want of several dogs.’ Of course, Jane Austen never actually wrote those words, nor - come to that - did Cesar Milan, but I like the sentiment. I am a dog person. My partner David and I are dog people. Therefore (Austen would have said ‘ergo’), we exist happily in a universe (inexplicable to those who are not dog people) where our dogs sleep on beds (and occasionally in, but more of that later), relax on sofas, listen to radio (ABC Classic preferred), ride in cars, frequent cafes and pubs and generally dictate and disrupt our daily lives. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.  


Neale and his partner David have three beloved canine members in the family.


Meet the canine family


Our canine family currently numbers three. Thibault (pronounced Tee-bo and often misheard as T-bone) is our senior Weimaraner, adopted into our family and hearts in 2020. Gentle, tolerant and a little world-weary. Teddy, our junior Weimaraner, seems to grow bigger overnight every night and - if true to his breed - will remain a puppy for another five years at least. Around 35 kilos of energy and joy. And then there’s Graham. Not the whippet that many people imagine him to be (he’s OK with the faux pas, us not so much), but an Italian Greyhound. Cheeky, funny and whip (not whippet) smart.


Neale’s pets rest on the Zaza Sofa (left). Neale is pictured with the Zaza Sofa and Fleur Lounge Chair.


The myth of Instagram-perfect


One of the things David and I get asked constantly is how we manage to keep our home looking Instagram-perfect with three dogs. We even have white floors, for goodness’ sake. Well, I hate to be the bearer of shattered illusions, but here’s the thing: our home is not Instagram-ready most of the time. We’ll get to the dogs in a moment, but like most people, David and I create mess. Dishes stack up on the kitchen bench; clothes mysteriously multiply on the bedroom chair; books, magazines and papers proliferate on surfaces, and not always artfully; feet are placed on coffee tables; drinks get spilled. In other words, we’re kinda normal. And then there’s Thibault, Teddy and Graham. If there are any rules we live by - with three dogs - they’re these.


Neale and his partner David are featured with the much-loved Luna Outdoor Chair.


Sharing the home with pets


First and foremost, our house is a home. It’s not a showroom. We long ago reconciled choosing things for our home that we love - sometimes valuable things - with the business of actually living in it. Apparently there are some dog people who manage to keep their dogs off the furniture, but David and I are not those people. We like sharing the couch with our guys, and our guys seem to enjoy our furniture choices. And when it comes to the bedroom, there is no more soothing a lullaby than a snoring dog (funnily enough that’s not the case with humans). Secondly, we live in the country and the country is often wet and muddy. 2022 was cataclysmically wet and muddy. And when the weather is cloudy with a chance of muddy paws, down go the towels, blankets and drop sheets - whatever comes to hand - on sofas (our KING Zaza Sofas, indoors and outdoors, are dog magnets), chairs, rugs and beds. And those white painted floors? Actually perfect for spotting paw prints and much easier to clean than carpet.  



Neale is pictured with the Fleur Lounge Chair.


Fabric and colour palette choices


Look, I’m not pretending our solutions are foolproof, but living with animals is a compromise worth making. Accepting that your home is their home is fundamental to making it work. I’m often quizzed about fabric and colour choices where pets are involved. Over the years, we’ve chosen fabric sofas and leather sofas and there are pros and cons to both. Paw prints and scuff marks can be buffed from leather relatively easily which might just give leather the edge, but we’re currently living with fabric sofas with no discernible downsides. Nor is our colour palette dictated by the dogs. With twenty or more years of dog ownership beneath our belts, we’re pretty confident in our choices, but if you’re even slightly concerned about your pet’s relationship with the furniture, my advice would be to stay within the realms of charcoal, brown or navy.  


Above is Zaza Outdoor (left) and the Serenade Bed (right).


Thirdly, dogs will be dogs. Italian Greyhounds, for example, are infamous burrowers. When Graham crawls beneath the sheets (with or without us) or hides amongst the pillows on our KING Serenade Bed, he’s following his instinct, not admiring the thread count. Admittedly, his Italian genes might have heightened his aesthetic sensibility. Unlike his Weimaraner brothers, Graham’s a sun worshipper and he always singles out his favourite Luna Outdoor Chairs (something about that wide, low-slung design makes them irresistible) and the Zaza Outdoor Sofa, which obviously feels as deliciously inviting to him as it does to us. And let’s face it, the colour suits him. Far be it from me to act like a stage father, but I think Graham’s ready for his close-up, not to mention his first sofa campaign. But then I’m a dog person.  


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Zaza Outdoor

Zaza Outdoor


Zaza Sofa


Fleur Lounge Chair


Luna Outdoor Chair


Serenade Bed