They also provide eggs, and compost for the garden—a garden they try to destroy. "The young, tender plants are just to their liking," Wes says. Fencing helps protect the garden.
The Hacketts say the effort is worth it—for both man and chicken. "When they can get out of the coop, they're chafing at the bit, ready to get through their little door and down their ramp, and get out into the open space," he says. "I can say, they have joy when they get out there."
The Hacketts' chickens never enter the house. But most pets do—which means they add to, or detract from the décor.
Speaking of cat scratching, we've all seen those useful but hideous cat-scratching posts that do so much to make beautiful homes look like animal shelters.
"One of the hardest things we had was to find pet accessories which fit the décor of the Eichler," says Jeff Sheldon. But he found a cat high-rise motel that does the job well, six colorful cubes that provide places for the cats to hide, scratch, and play king of the mountain. "That cat tree provides plenty of enjoyment to the cats, plus fits the style of the house," he says.
When Carol Cooper and Margaret Chester bought beds for their pets, they found biomorphic forms that fit well with their Eames chairs and vintage modern tables. "For a house to work for pets," Carol says, "they need comfortable places to lay." Their mid-century modern pet beds are comfortable on the eyes as well.
Not every aspect of modern living pleases pets, however. Jeff Sheldon's Eichler has a floor of polished concrete, stylish indeed but slippery. "They tend to fishtail as they run down the hallways, and have collided with the walls several times," he says of his basenjis. They have also attempted to run through the glass walls.
Yes, pets enjoy looking out the windows. But some dogs, including Sheldon's, miss looking out the front window at the world passing by. That's hard to do in an Eichler, with its closeted front façade. "They used to like looking through the windows all day, watching for people to come home," he says.
Ken White found the lack of front-facing windows a plus. In their old house, he says, their dog Frieda "barked non-stop. When we moved here—and there are no windows to the street—her barking decreased 90 percent."
The Whites were pleased, and no doubt were their neighbors. Pets can disturb neighbors—but they can also help neighbors become friends.
"It's an easy ice-breaker," Siobhan O'Hara says of walking her Norwich terriers through her Concord Eichler neighborhood. Margaret Chester agrees. "It gives you a reason to go, 'Ah! Look at your puppy!'"
In her Palo Alto neighborhood, Lynn Drake says, "We all get together with our dogs."
"It's a way of getting together socially, walking the dogs. It actually does bond the neighborhood."
Like any neighborhood in Palm Springs, Racquet Club Estates has seen its share of stars. The neighborhood, built by Alexander Construction, was designed by architects Palmer & Krisel.
Jackie Coogan, who starred in TV's 'The Addams Family,' lived in the neighborhood. Movie legends Debbie Reynolds and Steve McQueen vacationed here also—as did Alan Freed, the king of rock 'n' roll. Still, anyone will tell you that Racquet Club Estates' favorite celebrity is Cheeta, a chimpanzee of indeterminate age and provenance who lives—where else?—in Casa de Cheeta.
Cheeta could, in fact, be the most exotic pet living in a mid-century home in California.
The Casa, an Alexander home at the far north end of the neighborhood, has a chimp statue in the front yard, chimp photos, and two chimps in a compound alongside the house—along with a baboon, a rhesus monkey, five dogs, four parrots, and a tarantula.
Oh, yes, a human too. Dan Westfall brought his menagerie to town more than 20 years ago, after vacating the San Fernando Valley. "I had the chimps in condos, unbelievably," he says.
Why Palm Springs? "The price was right, here," he says. Westfall also investigated the city's chimp policy. "The city said: yes. They've been great."
The compound appears comfy enough for the chimps, with tires to swing on and places to play.