Our dogs are spoiled, I will be the first to admit it. Growing up, both Kurt and I had dogs, so it was always known that we would have them in our adult lives. When I finished University and finally moved out of my parents house (thankful for the free accommodations!), I knew a dog was going to happen. Ellie caught my heart the moment I saw her. I was living in a townhouse that only allowed dogs up to 30 lbs. She was advertised as a beagle cross, so I felt confident in bringing her home. Turns out the “cross” is with a Rhodesian Ridgeback, which can get up to 110+ lbs! Luckily she stayed at about 55-65 lbs, depending on how many workouts she is getting. At her heaviest, rippling with solid muscle, she was 65 lbs. Last weigh-in, she is about 57 lbs.
When I brought Ellie home, I was determined to not allow her on all the furniture. It is hard with a puppy that you want to snuggle all the time, but I was determined. I did however, give her a chair that was hers. Already the princess ways were forming. That chair, for the last 10.5 years has been Ellie’s chair. No one else sits in it, mostly because it is not always the cleanest, but because everyone knows it is Ellie’s chair. Although she has complete free-reign of all the furniture (my determination faltered quickly…and I moved in with Kurt who is completely at Ellie’s beck and call), she still mostly prefers her chair. She is affectionate but not a cuddly dog, unless she feels like it, and prefers not to be touched when she is trying to relax.
When we brought Basil home a few years ago, Ellie’s entire life was disrupted. At first she was not sure about this little ball of energy that seemed to want to touch her at all times, and cuddle her, and smother her with love. As Basil got bigger, and soon out-weighed Ellie, she suddenly had some interest in Ellie’s chair. Ellie was un-impressed and there was often whining or wandering the house because Basil had taken her chair. I think Basil had just hoped that Ellie would jump up and cuddle with her in it. So the solution? Build another chair!
The original chair was my grandparents, and was a fairly simple design so I felt confident that I could re-create it. Plus, I had the chair as my template for measurements and reference. This was a project from a few years ago, but I wanted to share it since it was my first piece of furniture that I built. At the time, I did not have many of the tools that I have now, so if I were to build this chair again today, there are some adjustments that I would make just based on the tools I now have at my disposal. I also did not do a good job of documenting my build plans, so I will work on those and share that in a separate post in case anyone is interested in building this chair for themselves, or for their pooch.
The original chair is built using 1″ thick wood, likely planed down from a standard board. As I didn’t have a planer at the time, I chose to use 1″ boards, which in reality are actually about 3/4″. It worked out, and the chair is very solid, but it did result in slightly different dimensions when assembled. That being said, when side by side, they look close enough. The other big difference is that whoever built the original made the seat out of a frame with a heavy weave material. I chose to use 3/4″ MDF board instead. If I were to build it again, I would likely still use the MDF board. When sitting in both chairs, I don’t notice a difference between the two. I would say that the MDF will last longer, but I have to say that the original chair is holding up very well. The material is not sagging and is over 20 years old. The cushions are definitely needing to be re-covered or replaced, but that is what happens when you let a dog have a chair that has white cushions!
I also used this build as an opportunity to use doweling to assemble portions. Although it was fun testing out a new skill, pocket screws will also achieve the same effect. There would just be the extra step of filling the pocket screw holes. The doweling have held great and again, the chair is very sturdy, it was just a lot more finicky than using pocket screws. It would likely take about the same amount of time either way due to filling the pocket holes once assembled.
I would also use a different wood. I used pine, which is quite soft. Already, after only 2 years, there are quite a few marks on the arms where the dogs nails have dug in, or they have plopped down a bone too hard. The original chair has a few marks, but minimal considering the age. Pine was great at the time considering my in-experience. Pine is abundant and cheap to buy, so if it hadn’t worked out or if I had made mistakes and had to re-do portions, it wouldn’t break the bank. If I were to do it again, I would look at birch, which is still cost-friendly but much more durable. I love hardwoods, and have been purchasing some beautiful boards for some upcoming projects, however, I wouldn’t use most of those expensive options for a dog chair….no matter how princess-like my dogs are! For furniture for Kurt and I, I would definitely consider those other hardwoods due to not only their beauty, but also their longevity.
When I stained the chair, I used a matte clear coat. I applied about 5 coats to make sure that it gave a finish that offered easy cleaning. I wanted to be able to give it a good wipe-down due to the dirt, and marks that the dogs were guaranteed to leave. I should have used an amber-hued stain to match the other chair, but that is ok. If I were to go back and re-do it, I would try to find a stain to make them a matching set. I would also use a semi-gloss. I don’t love full gloss, but a semi-gloss is nice to give it a little lustre.
After all was said and done, Ellie now has 2 chairs and Basil prefers to stretch out on the couch or cuddle with whoever is available. Ellie does cuddle or sit next to Basil on the couch some days, which Basil loves. Lately, Ellie has taken full preference of the new chair, rarely sitting in the old one. I think it is because there is extra-thick cushions on it, made from all of our old pillows, so she is in the full comfort zone. Basil actually showed little interest in either chair since I built hers, little brat. I’m just glad that one of the dogs uses it. I almost considered sewing better cushions for it and putting it in my office as a reading chair, but luckily Ellie has taken a liking to it.