When Mervin the Chihuahua was rescued from the ASPCA in New York City, the small pup joined a rather large family of other dogs in pet parent Joey Teixeira’s Upper East Side apartment. The Instagram star lives with three canine siblings in a cozy, one-bedroom abode, which means Teixiera prioritizes function over form when it comes to home design.
“We really had to transform our lifestyle to revolve around the dogs,” says Teixiera, who works in the animal welfare field. “Any time we decorate or do anything, it’s about functionality. That’s our priority—making sure they’re comfortable, but that they’re not going to destroy our couch.”
Mervin and the rest of his four-legged family members aren’t dogs that stay off the furniture, so Teixiera simply drapes sheets over the sofa to protect the fabric. “Our dogs don’t give us a lot of space,” says Teixiera. “They always want to be on top of us. So we have dog beds in the living room and in the bedroom.”
If Mervin ever does want to escape the chaos of the apartment, he simply needs to go into the hideout that Teixiera created under the bed. “We bought a high bed frame so that we could stick [the dog] crates and their beds underneath,” he says. “We created a really cool den-like, cave space for them. It’s a safe space, but it’s also out of the way.”
But the daring, precocious Chihuahua doesn’t spend much time hanging out under the bed. That’s why Teixiera set up a pair of dog steps leading to the bed, so that Mervin—whose two back legs were surgically repaired before he was adopted—could get on and off easily. “Mervin is completely fearless. We had to get stairs because he was actually trying to jump off the bed,” says Teixiera. “He is actually the only dog that uses them. All the rest of the dogs are afraid of them.”
Just because Mervin lives in a small space doesn’t mean his wardrobe suffers. The stylish pup has plenty of clothes that are tucked away in bins and organized into categories ranging from loungewear to hoodies. Mervin dons plenty of fashionable clothes for Instagram photo shoots and special events. “I think he has a bigger wardrobe than I do, actually,” says Teixiera. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Mervin was brought to the ASPCA as an emaciated stray dog with severe dental disease. All of his teeth had to be removed and Mervin stayed in the shelter for over three months waiting for his forever home. Now, the 5-year-old pup fits in perfectly with his adopted family and uses his star social media status to promote the rescue and adoption of shelter dogs all over the world.
Deidre Grieves is a senior content strategist and digital producer. Wiener dogs are her life.