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Bow Wow!

Company's custom doghouses, starting at about 4,500 bones, focus on comfort and aesthetics for the well-heeled pooch.

November 18, 2000|PAMELA DIAMOND | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

How much do you love your dog? Enough to provide a doghouse with such creature comforts as electricity, tile floors and windows that open to accept cross breezes or close to prevent a chill?

If so, your pampered pet might appreciate a custom-built luxury doghouse by La Petite Maison. The company blends the talents of Laguna Beach interior designer Michelle Pollak with Colorado builder Alan Mowrer to produce elaborate mini-mansions for kids and dogs.

The one-of-a-kind doghouses--the company has made a half-dozen since debuting last year--run the stylistic gamut from replicas of owners' homes to fantasy residences such as a French chateau in Coto de Caza. The canine chateau has an authentic copper roof, bay window, hardwood floors and a faux-fur throw rug.

A custom doghouse starts about $4,500 and can climb quickly with architectural details and extras such as hand-painted paw-print wallpaper, framed artwork and leaded-glass windows.

The price tag makes it prohibitive for most mutt owners. For this reason, of the roughly 150,000 licensed dogs in Orange County, only one is the pampered inhabitant of a Swiss chalet in South County.

Ted, a 4-year-old Bernese mountain dog, is king of the world in his chalet, chosen in honor of his breed's Swiss heritage.

Snowy white with dark wood trim, Ted's 35-square-foot house has air-conditioning, tract lighting, marble floors and a soothing, pale blue interior. There's a doggy door at the back. Ted's pet cat, Bill, suns himself on its wood shingle roof.

Ted's owner, who asked that her name not be published, said she's had to put up with teasing from her non-dog-owning friends.

"Some of them have said that in their next life they want to come back as my dog," she said, laughing.

She can justify the expense, though.

"Ted gets so hot during warm weather that I wanted a place for him to be comfortable. Then I figured if I was going to do it, I wanted it to look nice too. You couldn't spoil a human like this. Children have to grow up and be productive members of society."

Ted, however, has found a way to give back. He received his canine good citizen certificate from the AKC and will be a tail-wagging volunteer, cheering up residents of senior centers and children's hospitals.

"Our clients really adore their pets," said Pollak, who brings a gift of hand-rolled, cigar-shaped dog biscuits to each housewarming. "They indulge their dogs as if they were kids. [The owners] try to get inside their [pets'] heads and assume what they would want."

Comfort and decorative aesthetics play key roles in client choices, but Pollak has found that "every person has a different sensibility."

The doghouses are made to order and commissions can take six to 12 weeks.

Pollak has branched out into custom pet accessories and is creating a fringed cat bed to match an eggplant-hued living room.

"Anything my clients ask for, I will design. I can be as over the top as the rest."

For information, call (877) 404-1184 or http://www.lapetitemaison.com.

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