A very dog deserves a good home. For Madeline Wilson, owner of the Janesville-based Mama’s House Vintage, that has a double meaning.
Wilson makes specialty dog crates that double as decor, which helps make “home” feel even more homey both for pets and their owners.
In recent years, many have discovered the comfort of canine companionship. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 23 million American households added a pet to the family during the pandemic. American Pet Products Association reported that 70% of US households had a pet in 2020 — an all-time high. Many welcomed “pandemic puppies,” and with a little help from people like Wilson, owners have gotten creative about making space at home for their new additions.
The inspiration for Wilson’s home crates arose not so much from recent upticks in pet ownership, but from an idea her husband had.
“My husband approached me saying he wanted to build something for my furniture business,” Wilson says. “He had been doing research on things small woodworking companies make, and it turns out that several had been making dog crates and kennels. It was a unique idea and not something a lot of people were doing.”
Originally, Mama’s House Vintage specialized in upcycled furniture with a worn, rustic, found-at-the-flea-market look. But due to high demand for the custom dog crates, Mama’s House Vintage is making more items for dogs than humans now.
The crates are made to double as tables or countertops and some include built-in shelves to hold decorations or dog accessories. Wilson collaborated with a client, Linda Nunley, on a custom creation.
“We have our entertainment center and kids’ gaming system attached with this piece,” Nunley says. The crate is used for goldendoodle service dog Bacon “when we know we will be gone for a longer period during the day,” she says.
Design meets functionality in Wilson’s crates. Many dogs are crate-trained for when they’re left alone in the house. “Bacon tends to be a counter surfer and tries to get in the trash,” Nunley says, adding that she asked Wilson to make the custom crate about the same size as the kennel the dog was used to being in.
“Our crate was made specifically for our cane corso puppy, Xena, who absolutely loves it,” says JennieLynn Rude, another of Wilson’s clients. “It is her safe space. We have trained her to go to her room, and she happily trots to her crate when asked. It’s got a big comfy bed, blankets and all the toys a pup could want.”
Quick Tip for Crate-Training
Contrary to popular belief, many dogs do not instinctively feel comfortable in crates, says Carla Dusel, operations and behavior advisor for Central Bark, a franchise originally founded in Milwaukee.
“Helping dogs feel comfortable with confinement can be a big undertaking, but it’s an important life skill to start developing in dogs of all ages. If we start at home, we can begin to build a powerful history of reinforcement that can help our dogs feel more comfortable in other situations [like the vet clinic]where confinement may be necessary for their health and safety.”
To train your dog to accept and even love their crate, Dusel suggests helping them associate their crate with good things. “Try pairing your dog’s crate with daily mealtimes, enrichment toys that can be filled with food, puzzle toys or long-term chews like bully sticks or beef bones,” she says.
Michelle Mastro is a home and lifestyle freelance writer.
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