Originally published Jun 24, 2016
When Cochise first came to live with us we erected a quick sleeping shelter out of a wire fence panel, a tarp and an old barn door. It was shaped like the top of an old west covered wagon using the door as a floor and the fencing hooped over to support the tarp. Cochise quickly decided it was lots of fun to jump on top of his wickiup and flatten it out. This required that I crawl inside to push it back into shape with my neck and shoulders. It didn’t take long before we decided we’d best move on to a permanent structure.
So Marie and I built Cochise a sturdy wooden cabin with a shingled roof that hinges up for cleaning the interior and an entry vestibule separated from his sleeping area by a wind baffle.
That cabin served him well until he became a full-time house dog. Then it served many other foster dogs. Some of these were none too gentle on it and repairs were made over the years, but it still stands and is quite solid … and very heavy.
Over the years we have added more kennels and upgraded them from a dirt floor to 2” of pea gravel. But the dogs tended to moosh the gravel into the mud when it rained, resulting in mud and weeds in the pens again. We decided to upgrade again with new pea gravel over rock cloth (the rock cloth prevents weeds and keeps the rock separated from the mud below). Pen 1 is done and has been a vast improvement. Work on pen 2 has been hampered by the fact that to scrape out the old mud/gravel concrete and smooth the floor means dragging that cabin around from one place to another. Laying the rock cloth will mean LIFTING the cabin and moving it to prevent tearing the cloth. UGH!
I discussed this with Marie and we decided that it made sense to take the cabin out and replace it with another Igloo dog house like is in Pen 1. I proposed setting the cabin up in the play yard as temporary shelter (yeah, right: it’s a Play House!) for the dogs when they’re in the yard. It could be used as emergency shelter with a dog on a tether, but that would be a last-ditch situation: we don’t want to keep dogs tethered for any length of time – only as needed during training.
So I moved the cabin out and set it up on a foundation of landscape timbers (to get it sort of level on the sloping ground). Rather than cutting off the timbers, I decided to leave them sticking out front to be used with a porch floor. This could make a nice place for a dog to snooze in the sun. I added a coat of waterproofing to help protect the cabin now that it would not be under a roof but in the pen.
Once I got that done, I decided that porch really needed a roof over it … but something rustic, like the rest of the cabin, and I came up with this.
The waterproofing I applied to the sides still stinks quite a bit, so the dogs have shown little interest in it. Except for Jasper. As soon as the dog cabin was done, Jasper tucked his favorite ropey toy inside the door as a claim marker. Not that that will stop the rest of them! Before she was coned, Blondie used to sneak into pen 2 and curl up in the cabin when she wanted to nap and not be disturbed (accosted) by Jasper – who was getting real long play periods while I worked the garden.
Cochise has already asked and I answered, “No, you cannot have an air conditioner for it. It’s in a spot under a tree that offers perpetual shade in summer. That will have to do.” He humphed at me and stalked away, mumbling something about being unfair.
Blondie has already declared the cabin “wonderful” (now that she’d been de-coned). Sometimes she sits on the porch and chats with passers by, other times she curls up on the paper shred inside and naps. Sometimes she just sits in the entryway and enjoys the view out the front door.
I stuck to my guns about an air conditioner, but I did install a set of saddle blocks I made for it back when it was Cochise’s home. These blocks lift the rear of the roof about an inch to allow for air flow in the summer time. That helps to keep the heat down inside. Add that to being under a shade tree, and it’s not a bad place to hang out.
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