Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lucky's Doghouse

Jonathan, Lucky, Max and Willow
and the completed dog house.
This morning it was 45 degrees at 6:30 a.m. when I took my dogs out to pottie.  Lucky immediately curled up in her dog house for warmth, which reminded me how it was about a year ago that my grandson and I built it.

Since Jonathan usually spends a long weekend with me at Thanksgiving, I'm always looking for short projects we can do that will develop his manual and thinking skills.  Something he can do besides texting his friends and playing video games. Something requiring planning, thinking, and a tangible result.
Since Lucky is technically HIS dog,  what better way for Jonathan to show responsibility than to build "his dog" a dog house.  I have tons of scrap wood and screws (one of the advantages of living on a large property is my ability to store stuff), so the project wouldn't cost us a dime.

Our plans on paper, and the pattern
for the upper curve of the door,
 of Jonathan's design.

It was glorious fall weather, great for being outdoors, no jacket required. We reviewed our materials, set up a table out by the shed, lined up all our fabulous battery-powered DeWalt tools, then sat down with paper and pencil to design a house.  I had a some exterior siding left over from the shed's construction that would not need painting, some 1"x1" remnants for the supports, and a neat wooden "counter top" I had salvaged off of someone's trash pile . . . . . (yep, I'm a certified dumpster diver with the T-shirt to prove it - but that's another story.)  I had been saving that plank for about 10 years, waiting for a perfect application.  The width of our doghouse was determined by that top.  The length and height were determined by how much siding we had to work with.

Granny (that's me) operating the skill saw.
There was only half a sheet of siding (about 4' x 4'), so we used up every square inch we could to make the doghouse as long and as tall as possible.  We drew the lines together, then I operated the skill saw myself to make the cuts.

Very important was the skeletal support. The frame had to be sturdy. Lucky is a powerhouse of a dog and would tear up anything weak. Based on the sides we had cut out, we determined the length and height the framing posts needed to be, then built the frame. That was an interesting project all in itself. Both Jonathan and I learned some things about structure from that.

Jonathan operates the battery powered drill.
Next, J operated the drill to secure the sides to the frame after I tacked it into position. He liked doing that, and good thing because we used over 50 screws.  We were extra careful that none of the pointy tips stuck out on the inside, which could have cut up a dog pretty badly.

Next was the door opening.  We needed that as big as possible.  I showed Jonathan how to make the upper arch symmetrical by folding a paper in half and cutting out one half.  Open it up and it's the same on both sides.

Jonathan's door pattern, and the finished product.
He of course said "I know" to every trick I showed him, and didn't seem surprised about anything.  Age 12.  I had forgotten, 12 year olds are on the cusp of knowing everything.  Of not being much impressed by anything.  Of being sure adults don't know anything.

Still, I KNOW he had a good time because when he forgot to be cool and bored, he was grinning and gigglish, posing for pictures, jumping in and out of the doghouse, barking, acting silly. I have many pictures to prove it (these are just a few).

Years from now when he reads this story, I hope it will help him remember the warm sun on his hair, the cool breeze on his skin, the rustling leaves, the fresh woodland air at Granny's house, the love, the laughter, and the fun we had with our dogs --  in "The Doghouse That Jonathan Built".

Coaxing Lucky into her house
with treats.
Our yard, camper in background.

After Lucky loses her fear of getting in,
Jonathan and Lucky take turns
jumping in and out. 
Jonathan hanging out with the Lucky, Willow and Maxie after the project is finished. 
Now all we have to do is pick up the tools and move the doghouse around to the back porch.
Nobody wanted to do that just yet, so we just relaxed and basked in a job well done.
P.S. J was concerned that Lucky wouldn't have enough room inside and would never use the dog house.  But the exact opposite is true.  I put a rug down under it to insulate her from the cold bricks, and she curls up in there just about every day.  I'm pretty sure all the dogs know it is hers, too, because nobody else goes in there, although Max and Willow still perch on top, as they did from the first day.

A most satisfying outcome, and my heart is still full of thanksgiving for yet another wonderful memory at Old Hammond Hideaway!

1 comment:

Dianna Payne said...

What a wonderful story about how something as simple as a doghouse can magically bridge the generation gap that so many other grandparents are unable (or unwilling) to do. I loved the part about Jonathan "forgetting" to be cool and smiling and giggling. It's refreshing to see them that way. No pretenses of what's expected of them just joy in working with their hands and accomplishing a simple task. I believe you have just inspired me to plan a creative memory-making undertaking with my children this fall. As our 4-legger, Anna Belle, doesn't need a doghouse (since she has the entire underside of my pier-house) I will have to put some thought into it. Thanks Michele!