- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Kyle SmithIn page after page of delightful color photos, it's the detail that wags the dog.
— People Magazine
If recent findings are correct, the bond between man and dog dates back 100,000 years or more. Which suggests that somewhere between the Ice Age and the Bronze Age, man built the first doghouse.
The urge to fashion a home for our pets seems as innate as the desire to dress them in jaunty vests or feed them free-range kibble. And makes about as much sense. (Have you ever seen a dog wash down a gourmet meal with toilet water?) As Ralph Caplan observed in his amusing, insightful catalog accompanying a doghouse exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, "Doghouses are not so much designed for dogs as for the owners of dogs." True, indeed. How else to explain the glorious cavalcade of exotic, elaborate, and downright whimsical canine casas gracing these pages? We project on our pets the same desires that we, ourselves, subscribe to--one of them being the desire to live in a really cool house. Most of us can't achieve that for ourselves. But we can do it for our dogs.
(One notable exception: Marie Antoinette, who kept a niche a chien at Versailles--an extremely cool house. Her doghouse--one of the few surviving from this period--was fabricated from wood and upholstered with turquoise silk held in place by brass-headed nails. The top was fitted with a removable domed lid to facilitate cleaning. After all, who do you think got to eat all that leftover cake?)
Around this same time, in 1788, the Earl Bishop of Derry commissioned a pair of canine residences from the (as-yet-unknighted) architect John Soane. The Englishman supplied designs for a residence of a canine family in both modern and ancient styles, featuring three wings radiating out froma domed atrium.
Slightly less ambitious was the early-nineteenth-century French doghouse that now resides at Washington Irving's landmark home in upstate New York. Although the author of Rip Van Winkle never used this piece, it's still quite charming, with decorative barge boards and a trefoil-shaped cresting along the top that mimics the Gothic Revival style then in vogue. Another Gothic Revival doghouse survives in Bangor, Maine, where it was built in 1880 to mimic the look of the main house (a practice still common today).
Dogs have been a mainstay of the nation's first families from the time of George Washington. The White House grounds have seen numerous kennels and the occasional doghouse over the years, including ones for Benjamin Harrison in the 1880s and Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s. Lyndon Johnson was especially particular about his doghouse, insisting on numerous improvements, including heat, floodlights, and a Dutch door so LBJ could pet the dogs without releasing them. (He was not so particular about his training methods, earning the ire of dog lovers everywhere when he was photographed picking up his beagles by their ears.)
It was during the presidency of Ronald Reagan that the idea of doghouse-as-status-symbol became popular, boosted by a puckish parody of Vogue called Dogue. The magazine included a roundup of some of the world's most stylish doggy digs, including Chinese dog pagodas and canine Cotswold cottages. In 1988 the Atlanta Humane Society hosted an exhibit of designer doghouses called Architectural Dogfest, and in 1989 the Kentucky Art and Craft Gallery followed suit with Going to the Dogs: Shelter for the Discerning Canine. The following year, the Cooper-Hewitt (a division of the Smithsonian Institution) exhibited two dozen architect-designed doghouses in their garden. The show earned mountains of publicity for both the museum and the exhibit's beneficiary, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Inc., and launched a seemingly endless stream of charity doghouse competitions (from which many of the examples in this book were chosen).
Not every doggy sweater gets worn, and not every doghouse gets used. But in the end--to borrow from Ralph Caplan--doghouses aren't really for dogs. Doghouses give dog owners the opportunity to express their love for their pets-to repay these animals for the loyalty and companionship they show us every day. It's a tall order. But a really cool house is a good start.
Putting on the Dog
A Breed Apart
Directory of Designers
Author Biography: Fred Albert is one of the most respected architecture and interior design writers on the West Coast. He is the editor of Seattle Homes and Lifestyles magazine and is the co-author of American Design: The Northwest. His work has appeared extensively in The Seattle Times, Seattle magazine, and other regional and national publications.
Posted December 22, 2001
I gave my dog-loving friend a copy of the Barkitecture postcard book for Christmas and she loved it! I love this book! It is so cute and inspiring! Who could not love a big red oddly-shaped doghouse with a pool? Or a technicolor geometric doghouse? Those 2 are my favorites, but there are so many more wonderful ones! Like the tropical pavilion and the royal cloth one with the canopy and..well, buy it and see. There are those that will make you say 'THAT IS SO UGLY! WHO WOULD MAKE THAT FOR A POOR DOG?,' like the one called Untitled No. 2. But even the few ugly ones will amuse you and make you wonder about the people who came up with them. All in all a very very worthwhile book to get.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 22, 2011
No text was provided for this review.