By Dave Elmy
He built a little set of stairs a couple of years ago because his cat was clawing at the walls trying to get up to their window ledge. That was it, until he retired, and was looking for something to do.
Terry Bell, owner of Pet Carpentry stated that his wife, Maxine, said that I had to get into this because people were looking for it. So, we started spreading the word and putting a couple of ads in places and got our business launched.
As a previous millwright, Bell had also done a fair amount of carpentry work in the past. “Working with wood has always been a hobby,” Bell commented. “I’ve done a lot of work around home and the cottage.” Also, Maxine had a store in downtown Orillia where he built shelves, cupboards, display cabinets and the like.
Bell explained that everything he is doing with the pet carpentry is custom ordered. “I hate repetition,” he stated. “And I don’t have room to store a bunch of stuff and have them sitting around. If somebody wants something,” he said, “We go visit and decide what they need.”
Just getting started, he’s already built a set of stairs and a cathouse, with two more cathouses in the works, which include wheels so that they can be mobile. Bell is hoping that these two houses will be able to accommodate about 6 cats each. “I can’t build them too big because it would be too awkward,” he explained. “But this person in Napanee has 19 cats in her house with a whole bunch more in the barn. We don’t even know how many there are out there!” He’s going to build them with wheelbarrow handles so that she can move the houses into the shade for them in the summer.
Asking if the cats can be outside in the winter, Maxine explained; “The nineteen that she’s getting these houses built for are outside cats. They wander in and out all the time but most of the time they’re outside which is why she needs some shelter for them.”
Terry went on to point out that they are not limited to stairs and houses. He noted that there were no restrictions to the custom work that he could do; whether it be some kind of frame with balls of yarn hanging from it, or something using the full imagination of the pet owner. Working out of his garage, he is fully equipped with all the tools required including, but not exclusive to, table saws, routers, band saws, planers and drill presses. “There’s got to be a million machines out there,” laughed Maxine; “And I don’t have a clue what they are!” Bell also installed a propane gas heater so he could work year round in a comfortable setting.
When discussing his plans and how far he wanted to take his newfound business, Bell stated; “I don’t know. I just want to stay busy. I’m 65 now, but I still feel good. Idleness is my worst enemy and always has been.” Bell went on to explain how he had lived in Kitimat, BC, for about 25 years and how, during that time, he saw a number of guys retire from Alcan who didn’t live past their first year. “Some didn’t even see their first pension cheque,” he stated. “They’ve known nothing but work, work, work, work and once they had retired, they were under their wife’s feet and she didn’t want them there. They’d go wander around the mall; and they’d just give up ’cause they had nothing to do.”
Maxine went on to clarify the fact that their services were not limited to cats. “Some people need a ramp to help an older dog get into their vehicle or some have little dogs that need bed stairs, so that the owner doesn’t have to lift them in and out all the time.” They visit all owners at the time of their request to ensure specific measurements for the item required, including even the height of the pet and the length of their legs.
So, for all those pet lovers out there, take a good hard look at what your pets need to make being outside more comfortable, make looking through the window easier, or whatever else they do and customize their life for them.