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This Old Doghouse

This Old Doghouse

In the news profession, they say, you need a quirky angle to get a story read. No one would read a story with the headline, "Dog Bites Man," but everyone would read one that said "Man Bites Dog." So it was with great interest that I read a short item entitled, "Playful Pooch Shoots Owner."

The story comes from the website www.ananova.com. It seems that a dog (we don't know what kind) was holding its owner's gun in its mouth when the gun fired, sending a bullet into the back and neck of the owner. "I don't know how this happened," the man told the police. Presumably, it was not an intentional act and the police have no plans to arrest the dog.

Theories abound about why the dog would have shot its owner. Mine is that maybe the dog was fed up with its living situation. I thought of that while reading an ad about doghouses.

"In the doghouse" used to be a phrase that expressed punishment. If you were in the doghouse, you did something really wrong. Not any more. Doghouses today are marvels of engineering, a veritable tour de force of technology. To see what I mean, check out the models developed by Adams, Inc. (www.cedarwoodfurniture.com). The company manufactures red cedar doghouses that are so plush you might want to live in one yourself. The cedar withstands temperature extremes, and the cedar oils repel fleas, ticks, and termites. Options include AC/heater combo units, thermal-ply insulation, and-my favorite-custom-fit pet floor mats. A spokesman for the company says the floor mats are made from "latex rubber." They're water proof, and they don't sag. No dog wants a mat that sags.

The doghouses come in a variety of sizes, from the puppy version to what Adams calls the "Godzilla" style (floor size 57 x 45 inches). You may wonder, like I do, what marketing strategy lies behind the naming of a doghouse model after a cinematic lizard on steroids, but, perhaps they're going after a special niche, like dogs with an attitude-or an identity problem.

Oh, one other feature of Adams doghouses that's important: Each one bears the hand signature of the craftsman who built it. Your dog would want to know that.

Of course, if you really want to impress your dog and keep it from taking aggressive action against you, you could always build the doghouse yourself. Actually, that's a great idea if you're eventually planning to build your own home. The doghouse project would be an exercise in prototyping, a kind of proof of concept for your future castle. And building it would give you the chance to use all the skills you have acquired and use in your day job: CAD, for the initial design; materials and fastener selection; and-if you're really ambitious and really like your dog-electronic components.

If you don't want to start from scratch, so to speak, you'll find some interesting pre-fab doghouse designs at www.rewarddog.com, which promises models to suit your dog's personality and tastes.

Now you can quibble that the best houses for dogs-the ones where they'll be the happiest and most content-are the ones their owners live in, and you may be right. Just be sure there are no cats in the neighborhood. The Angelical Cat Company (www.angelicalcat.com) sells what it calls condos for cats. They're two and three stories tall. The company calls its premiere model the "Cat-illac." If your dog hears about that, it will go through the woof.

Reach Teague at[email protected].

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