See a Customized Home Indoors and Out for Dogs and Cats

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By Brenna Malmberg, Houzz.

Photos by Paul and Vanessa Martin

Pets at a Glance Pets: Trixie, a tabby cat; Mugsy, a Mal-Shi-and-poodle mix dog; Paddington, a Shih Tzu-and-Maltese dog, and MiuMiu, a tabby cat, not pictured above Ages: 3, 6, 8 and 3, respectively Location: Modesto, California Owners: Paul and Vanessa Martin

Pet-filled house: The Martins welcome Paddington — the first and oldest — into their home in 2009. They adopted Mugsy, Paddington’s son, two years later. The two cats, who are siblings, moved in three years later. The accumulation of pets led the Martins to make home decisions with their quartet of pets in mind.

Meet Paddington: The ad in the newspaper said the dog looked like a panda, but it didn’t include a picture. They went by to meet him, and Vanessa says, “We fell in love with that little panda face instantly.” Don’t let his cute, bow tie-wearing appearance fool you though. He’s the tough guy around the house and follows Vanessa everywhere.

Paddington wears his bow tie for special occasions and photos. The same goes for the rest of the Martins’ pets. The bows are attached to the collar with small elastics so that if the pet were to catch it on anything, it would break away. “They don’t just walk around all day dressed up,” Vanessa says. They are always supervised while wearing them.

Meet Mugsy: The Martins weren’t exactly looking for another dog, but they couldn’t resist the snuggles of Paddington’s son, and his dad needed a friend. Today, Mugsy’s still quite the snuggler, Vanessa says, and shows lots of affection toward the couple. “If you talk about kisses,” she says, “you’re going to get kisses.”

Meet MiuMiu: Paul found him and Trixie abandoned near their home: one by the trash can and one over by the neighbor’s fence. “We were then standing there with these two tiny babies that were too small to be without a mother and we didn’t know what to do,” Vanessa says. They left them outside the first night in hopes their mother would return for them. As you can see, she didn’t. So they took them in, bottle fed them and gave them names.

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MiuMiu, named for his consistent meowing, spends most of his time curled up with Paul and Vanessa.

Meet Trixie: She is known as the troublemaker around the house. “She’s always getting her paws into something,” Vanessa says.

The cat tower, shown in the first image, keeps Trixie occupied much of the day. The Martins picked a tower with lots of levels and a hanging ball. “It’s her special area where she can go crazy,” Vanessa says.

Related: Stylish Cat Trees and Towers for the Home

Pet-proof fence: Paddington here would slip through the Martins’ old wooden fence and “take himself for walks,” Vanessa says. “Getting a new secure fence was a priority.”

They first looked at gray vinyl fencing as a replacement because they have a gray theme inside the home and wanted to continue it outside. Unfortunately, the gray color cost three times more than the white option. Paul then saw metal sheeting used for shed roofs, and thought it would work.

In one weekend, the couple and Paul’s brother built the fence and gave their backyard a modern industrial look. It’s been up for two years. “It’s very solid and there’s no way that they can get through it,” Vanessa says.

Uneven property grading was an issue during construction, but they found a workaround. They kept the fence level all the way around the backyard and filled in any gaps between the bottom of the fence and the ground with pieces of wood. The couple plans to build raised flower beds in front of those areas to cover the gaps.

Multiuse shower: The Martins completed a master bathroom remodel six months ago. When planning the new space, they thought about how they could make it easier to bathe the dogs, as they do weekly.

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They opted to create a shower that worked for human and dog baths by picking a shower panel with a handheld showerhead.

The shower panel also has body sprayers that shoot water out horizontally. The Martins hold up the dogs and use the spouts to give them a good rinse.

A shower bench comes in handy when the Martins shampoo the dogs. Each dog takes a turn on the corner bench getting a soap scrub.

Curious cat: Meanwhile, Trixie stands in the bathroom sink and waits for the dogs to get done with their bath.

Cardboard box replacement: The cats always climb in cardboard boxes, and when Vanessa saw The Cat Ball, she thought it might be a good box replacement. It’s half bed and half toy, and the one MiuMiu is sitting in is made to look like a giant rabbit.

Favorite spot in the house: “I don’t know why all of the animals love those green leather chairs so much,” Vanessa says. “They have put a lot of wear on them and I don’t know what we are going to do when we get them re-covered.” Let’s hope they approve of the new look and feel when the reupholstering happens.

Photo pros: The Martins are both photographers and own Ocean Blue Photography & Design. They have a pet photography division called The-Puparazzi. This has led to their own pets becoming great models, and an Instagram profile that the pets share.

“We’ve been taking photos of them basically their whole lives,” Vanessa says. “They understand what’s going on and if we talk to them, they will look at us. We also try to shoot fast so that they don’t have to stay still for too long.”

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Job well done: All you have to do is say the word “treat” and all four pets come running. They earn treats, and lots of praise, for cooperating on a photo shoot.

This article is part of a collaboration between Houzz and Pets Best, a U.S. pet health insurance agency. To learn more about pet insurance, please visit

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