Mari and Gary Becker are what you might call dog people. Their three dogs, Truman, Theo and Junebug, are Chinese Crested Powderpuffs, a breed of small dogs that the American Kennel Club describes as being affectionate, social and unusually loyal. The AKC also mentions that they are most decidedly “indoor dogs.” Mari Becker acknowledges that she and her husband have taken that guidance to heart. They engaged John Boyer of Boyer Building to design and build a house for them in Wayzata that keeps the comfort of Chinese Crested Powderpuffs in mind at every turn.
“Over the years we have learned a lot about living with these dogs—we’re on our second generation of the breed—and the dog-centric aspects of our houses have become more and more refined,” Mari Becker says.
John Boyer says, “There is definitely a trend to designing for the pets. We have recently installed dog showers near mud rooms, built in dog kennels, and, as in this house, a room dedicated to dog grooming and maintenance. Additionally, significant dollars are spent on outdoor dog facilities like fences as well as dog runs and outdoor kennels."
The mudroom of the Becker house is a kind of dog activity hub. It opens to a side yard that’s covered in artificial turf; the lower level is home to a grooming table and the built-in kennels that Truman, Theo and Junebug cozy up in when their people must be out of the house without them. There’s a nice deep sink for dog baths and the grooming table is a professional grade hydraulic affair. The mudroom can be closed off to prevent the dogs from running in from outside and right into the rest of the house.
Wet paws aren’t a big problem, though, because the turf drains well and is never muddy. The family spends the worst of the winter at their home in Arizona, but if they are here when it’s really cold—and this may be the thing that separates this house from the pack, as it were—there is another smaller covered area where the dogs can go out for a quick relief visit that is warmed by infrared heaters. “We are experts about dog potty areas,” Becker says.
Boyer says, “In the past, we built dog kennels … so these aren’t really new concepts; however, as with everything in our market, things are bigger and better than ever before,” he says. “The quality of fencing is nicer, the invisible fence technology is improving, pet doors and security systems are designed to allow pet access. People love their pets as family members.”
But dog-centric touches aren’t the only thing that make this a lovely family home. The house has no carpet except for a runner on the stairs, which is good for cleaning away dog hair but is also recommended for anyone looking for easy-to-clean surfaces. The home's exterior was designed with low maintenance materials, the one-acre lot is dominated by a native garden that will mature into a landscape that doesn’t need cutting or fussing over, and the master suite is on the main floor to allow for single level living.
There are two additional bedrooms in the basement, but everything else is on the main level. “My husband has been in Arizona for ten days,” Becker says during our interview. “I don’t think I’ve gone down to the basement once. The house lives like a little cottage in that way.”
The family’s previous house—also designed and built by Boyer—was a large three-story affair that had an elevator. For this house they were looking for something less complicated. “We took all of our favorite things and downsized them into an easier and simpler lifestyle,” she says. “We say this will be our last house … but we’ll see!” Their dog-friendly abode is no surprise; in addition to being passionate pet owners, they volunteer with Safe Hands animal rescue.