Pampered pets

46_doghouse_01Dave Sullivan, owner of Doggy Dream Homes in Fayette, Mo., has taken the ultimate plunge on pooch pampering with his business. A professional builder with 18 years experience, Sullivan has a special niche in the marketplace building custom dog playhouses for his clients' beloved pets.

"I started this company building smaller homes to pamper our pets a couple of years ago and that's when I thought I might offer my skills to everyone," says Sullivan, who has toy-breed dogs of his own, Brussels Griffons and Affenpinschers.

Sullivan builds the "ultimate doghouse" for clients using the same caliber of materials anyone would expect to be used in their own home. The homes can, of course, be built for other animals as large or small as the client desires.

"We have considered how to make the dream homes owner-friendly. The interior walls and flooring will be constructed out of materials that will be easy to keep clean. The exterior of your choice can be constructed of materials that are essentially maintenance-free," says Sullivan.

Styles range from single units to doggy duplexes to two-story mansions. Exteriors can be painted, brick or stone.

"We try and offer homes that can be used all year around, not just when it's warm enough or cool enough so heating and cooling is one option. We offer so many options like running water, electric, insulation ... basically, you can get anything that's in your home, just in a smaller version."

Sullivan offers pre-drawn designs and also allows clients to change details as they wish. The designs can be "home matching," which is building smaller versions of your home, or make-believe homes, such as castles, villas and cartoon versions. Once the building itself is complete, a variety of further customization options are also available.

In the furnishings category, there are custom dog beds that, rather than a giant beanbag, are a semblance of a human's bed. For feeding etiquette, there are posture trays for food and water bowls, and fire hydrant dog-treat jars. There are toy chests for dog-only toys and, for the backyard, a splash pool shaped like a dog bone with a setup similar to a human's hot tub. Pricing generally ranges from $6,500 and up.

Clients are from all across the U.S. Sullivan's workshop is at his home and he hires employees for building and installation as needed. He says he likes having a small business, and not mass-producing, to ensure quality.

"The economy has affected our business just like anyone offering luxury items. We enjoy building these homes and knowing the customers and their furry family members will have the chance to enjoy them for many memories that will last a lifetime," says Sullivan.

Sullivan also builds custom playhouses for children as well. For information, visit www.premiercustomplayhouses.com. Contact: Doggy Dream Homes. Tel: 660-248-5023. www.doggydreamhomes.com

This article originally appeared in the October 2009 issue.