Former Raiderette Cheers for Christmas and Canines
By JENNY PETERS
Any conversation with Lisa O’Day DeMuesy, the Orange County-based interior designer, starts and ends with two things: Christmas and dogs. Both are her year-round passions; and while neither one completely eclipses her love for her husband Rick and grown daughter Janel, they come in a close second.
The all-year-round-is-Christmas angle in DeMuesy’s life came about as a result of her past life as a Los Angeles Raiders’ cheerleader, a journey she began in 1983.
“In ‘82 I was cheering on my high-school football field; and in 1983, my first year with the Raiders, we went to the Super Bowl!” she recalls with a hearty laugh. “So I went from wearing this innocent cheerleading skirt to this uniform that was all sex-kittened out and my parents were cracking up. I used to tell my dad that I got as far as I could to the NFL.”
And she really did go far with the NFL. “I ended up staying with the Raiderettes for the entire time they were in Los Angeles, which was 13 years. It’s the longest anyone has been a cheerleader in the NFL,” DeMuesy reflects.
It was while she was cheering that her design career took off, in a completely unplanned way. “That is how I ended up with interior decorating, because of the Raiders. One year, one of the players asked me to decorate his condo. I did and it snowballed from there. Literally snowballed, just by word of mouth,” she says.
Doing interior makeovers for pro NFL football and NBA basketball players became her full-time job, and she soon launched her own firm, Designs by DeMuesy. But then, in recent years, things took an even more interesting twist.
“I decorated one of the athletes’ homes one year for Christmas, and it snowballed. Now my main job is I decorate people’s homes for Christmas. It just took over. It completely took over. Last year I did 22 trees. Believe it or not, the first trees go up in October.”
DeMuesy roams from Calabasas to Rancho Santa Fe to do these installations, for which she charges $120 per foot of tree (and more to do the rest of a home’s interior). It’s almost a full-time job, one that goes all year, not just at the holidays. “In January, I’m already shopping and researching for the next year. I am constantly at the design centers and trade shows, picking out things for the coming year. I am the Christmas dog lady!” she says with a laugh.
Her “dog lady” moniker is hard earned, as Lisa DeMuesy has also devoted herself to animal rescue for the last dozen years. “That’s the biggest thing I do, helping with dog rescue. I work with five big organizations here in Orange County, including Promise 4 Paws, and I also work with The Greendog Foundation, the Kris Kelly Foundation, Paw Prints in the Sand Animal Rescue and Dream Fetchers.”
DeMuesy devotes countless hours to the cause, as she describes. “I go wherever I can help. Mainly what I do is a lot of transporting. I will go as far as taking dogs to San Francisco, Las Vegas. I’ve driven dogs to Arizona. I do a lot of transporting and pulling from the shelter. You go and you pull the dogs from the shelter for the rescue. What happens most of the time is you end up keeping them for a couple days until you find a foster home. But if that foster is me, I end up being a total foster failure, and I end up keeping the dogs,” she jokes.
Her two favorite doggie children are Lacy (a Shepherd/Chow mix) and Bella (a Chihuahua), but at any given time, her household is full of other foster dogs that she successfully finds homes for, using social media as a catalyst.
“That is what I do and I absolutely love it. What is so important about it is people have no idea how just giving a dog a home for a few days helps, because sometimes it’s just those few days that a dog needs, until somebody sees their picture and says, ‘I want to adopt that dog,’” she explains. “I’ve been doing this nonstop for the last 12 years and just seems to get to be more and more. It’s funny, because I tell my husband, ‘Just one more dog!’ all the time.”
Lisa DeMuesy really is the champion of dogs in need and she wants the world to know that it isn’t hard to join in the cause. “People who cannot adopt a dog, that’s fine, but they can foster or simply donate. People have no idea how much one dollar helps. One dollar can help go get that dog spayed and neutered. Blankets are so important to give your shelter, bedding for little dogs in the shelters that have no hair and they’re freezing in the winter. So when people say ‘What can I do?’ there’s so many little things that they could help with and all of it is so important. It’s really everybody working together, helping in some way. It’s such a cool feeling at the end. Seeing that little dog’s face that you helped, posted with its new family with a big smile on its face, it’s like Christmas morning every time you have that win.”