I can get a little carried away. So when I started thinking about designs for a dog house, I saw nothing strange about breaking out my architectural scale ruler and the graph paper. A normal person, having drawn such an elaborate design, would have scratched it out, shaking his head slightly, muttering ‘This is for a dog, remember?’ and drawn the archetypal gable roof dog house. Me? I added stained glass windows, a green roof, and cherry wainscot. Since this is not normal, I feel some explanation is in order.
Like you, when I hear the term’ dog house’ I imagine a shabby hovel for a neglected dog chained to nearby stake. Being ‘in the dog house’ has become synonymous with punishment, most frequently used by husbands to describe their metaphorical abodes after marital transgressions. Though for them, it is more likely the couch. So making a dog house would seem to imply that I have a ‘bad dog,’ because everyone knows that in American culture, loved dogs do not sleep outside in dog houses. In fact, one survey found that half of all dog owners now allow their dogs to sleep on their bed with them. Half! Though we have never allowed her on our bed, we certainly love Clover and consider her a member of the family. So why now?
First, you have to understand that my dog is a coward. When Josie began toddling around, Clover began getting nervous. She is not the type of dog to lazily allow a hysterical toddler to pull on her ears. Now that Josie is two, and can run and scream and throw things, this cowardly dog prefers to just remove herself from this combination of indoor terror by being outside. Because it is winter and raining all the time, this means that she will go curl up under a bush somewhere in the yard. This is kind of heartbreaking. Even after Josie is down, it takes a lot of convincing to get her to come back inside.
I don’t think I can train my dog to be more relaxed or brave, so short of putting her on doggy Xanax, I can at least make her a refuge outside where she will be warm and dry. Since I love my dog, and because I was a carpenter in my former life, a shoddily made doghouse just won’t do. I also have a lot of scrap material in my garage, having squirreled away nice leftovers from job sites for years. Most pieces are too few in number or too short to use on the scale of an actual house. I figure if something’s been collecting cobwebs for four years now, I will probably never use it on my house. This is how cherry wainscot ends up being used inside a dog house.
Still, I could have easily not insulated it, or added a green roof, or took my wife up on her offer to make stained glass sidelights. But to this I say two things: 1) I’m the one who has to look at this thing every day, and I prefer to look at beautiful things. 2) Craftsmanship is integrity made tangible; therefore it is irrelevant that the recipient is a dog. Lofty prose justifying abnormal behavior I know. My wife thinks I just want some upscale lodging for when she catches me with my mistress.