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Tattle Tails with Meg Caswell

Screen shot 2016-05-31 at 10.39.06 AMMeg Caswell is a vibrant person inside and out. Already an accomplished interior designer when she won season six of HGTV’s Design Star, Caswell, a Chicago-native, has since developed a wildly successful television career. She hosts her own show on HGTV called Meg’s Great Rooms, appears on multiple home design reality shows, and is a regular guest on national talk shows like Windy City Live and Good Day L.A.

Aside from nurturing her TV career and her home goods store, Fifth and Castle, in Wilmington, North Carolina, Caswell is passionate about animal welfare. She often opened up her former store in Chicago to adoption events, and has spoken out against puppy mills. We sat down with her to learn more about the animals and issues that mean the most to her.

TAILS: Tell us about your pets, Buddy and Teddy. What are they like? Do they get along?

Meg Caswell: Buddy is a three- year-old black cat and Teddy is a four-month-old Lab/Shepherd mix. Buddy has always acted more like a dog than a cat. He follows you everywhere and talks a lot. If he can’t find us he will walk around the house calling out “HEEELLOOO” in a loud, obnoxious meow. No one believes us until they hear it for themselves.

Teddy is a very calm and intelligent puppy. He is smaller than Buddy, but still puts in a ton of effort trying to get Buddy to play with him. The best is when Buddy just sits in a chair and watches Teddy jump around and bark at him, trying to get him to play. They are cute together.

How did they come into your life?

We had recently put our 23-year-old cat to sleep when I told my husband, Randy, that if we get another cat he will need to find us. I wasn’t going out looking for one. Soon after, we went Christmas shopping at a local store when a beautiful cat followed us in the door. The shop owner shared that he lived nearby on a landscaping business property, where he was dumped when he was a kitten. That night the temperature got down to 30 degrees and I woke up thinking about that poor kitty living in a shed. The next morning we went and picked him up.

[As for Teddy], I was speaking at a home show in Indiana a few weeks ago and they had an adoption booth there. Just three days earlier a psychic told me I would bring a Lab/Shepherd mix puppy into my life, so the minute I met Teddy and he fell asleep in my arms I knew I had to bring him home.

You’ve spoken out against puppy mills as well as donated portions of your proceeds to puppy mill rescues. What drew you to the cause?

I once purchased a Yorkie out of a newspaper. I’m so embarrassed about this. At the time, I had no clue about puppy mills and what they were. There are many people that still don’t really understand what a puppy mill is. I hope to one day help get a bill passed to stop the mills. We need to separate puppies from regular livestock when it comes to how they are recognized by the law. There is so much money backing the cattle, chicken, and pig industry. If we want the laws for puppies and kittens to change it would have to change for the other animals too.

You previously hosted adoption events in your Chicago store. Do you have plans to do the same thing at your store in Wilmington?

Actually just this week a shelter contacted me asking if I had any resources to help with their overflow problem. I immediately offered our store’s side yard to host an adoption event. We hope to do it as soon as possible, before they have to euthanize any more wonderful dogs.

Do you ever design spaces just for pets?

Yes! I had a homeowner on HGTV with a beautiful dog named Lady. I had my carpenter build her a piece of furniture that stores her food and toys, and even has a nice elevated space for her food and water bowls. Her name is prominently featured on it.

What’s your top tip for pet parents trying to create an ideal space for their dog or cat?

Make sure you pick out beds with washable fabrics.

How do you balance your hectic schedule with being a pet parent?

I give them attention when I am present—I don’t just coexist. Pets need to know you are giving them your love and attention 100 percent when you are together.

What do you still dream of doing?

I would love to have my own daytime talk show. I have always said the more successful I become, the more I can do to make sure puppy mills are gone for good. Having a talk show can give a lot of attention to the cause.

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