Animal shelter fund-raiser draws creative designs for canine castles |

Animal shelter fund-raiser draws creative designs for canine castles

Sherri Kuecker of Aspen plays with Zoe on Wednesday in front of the doghouse she created for an auction to benefit the animal shelter. Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times.

With pet massage, specialty dog and cat shops and even acupuncture for pets in the Roaring Fork Valley, a little indulgence for man’s best friend isn’t that unusual.But local architects, designers and even students are coming together for “houndhaus,” the first local competition of its kind to benefit the Aspen Animal Shelter. They’ve designed and built homes for dogs and cats that would spoil even the most pampered pet in the valley.Amy Feldman, a board member for the Aspen Animal Shelter, came up with the houndhaus concept, based on Aspen’s love of four-legged friends and on the town’s roots in the German Bauhaus art school. Aspen visionary Walter Paepcke hired Bauhaus architect Herbert Bayer in 1946 to build the style’s characteristic clean, modern lines of the Aspen Institute.The dog and cat houses that will be unveiled at Saturday Night’s Bow-Wow Meow Ball for the Animal Shelter will be judged, and the top three houses will be sold at a live auction. The others will be silent auction items. Feldman said she hopes the shelter can raise $2,000 to $5,000 for each house.

At Poss Architecture + Planning and Poss Interior Design in Aspen, designers decided to capitalize on the Bauhaus theme by naming their structure “Bowhaus” and using a modern style. Designer Marina Skiles said the house has steel legs, exterior birth veneer plywood and a trellis of redwood. She designed the structure along with team members Holly Gingles, Barbara Mullen, Sam Kachmar and Brian Brookman, and the home was built by Silich Construction.”We typically do large houses, so this was a unique challenge, and it was very fun,” she said. Their dog house includes a side wall that folds down to create a front porch.Sherri Kuecker of Anderson Ranch Arts Center teamed up with her son, Aspen High School student Nicolas Maraziti to work on their doghouse. Maraziti designed the structure in his high school drafting class, and his mom worked on the outdoor decor. Kuecker said they “literally fought like cats and dogs,” but she still felt it was a fun project.About 20 boxes worth of milk bones cover the exterior of their house, and around 250 rawhide dog chews “shingle” the roof. It’s a sort of gingerbread house for dogs, Kuecker said.

“We just said, ‘What would a dog like the house to be made of?'” she said. “The whole thing is sealed with wood sealant so it can be placed outside – I hope that works.”Building the doghouse with one dog and five cats in her own home was a challenge, Kuecker said, because her dog went crazy every time she shook a box of milk bones, and her cats took to sleeping inside the creation.Most of Kuecker’s pets are from the Aspen Animal Shelter.Bruce Bell, who owns Mountain Closets, got his dog Alloy from the Animal Shelter. He was at work on Wednesday finishing his houndhaus – an exact replica of The Red Onion building in Aspen, circa 1892.

“I just wanted to do something that was a known building in town, and I was thinking about the Hotel Jerome, but The Red Onion sounded funny,” he said. His structure includes a “lower living area” with glass windows and storage for dog clothes and food upstairs.At Aspen High School, wood shop and advanced drafting instructor Ben Kelly encouraged his students to design their own creative doghouses at the end of the school year. Together they agreed to create the “Howl at the Moon Saloon,” which includes swinging doors, a front porch and awning, and an elevated food and water bar inside.”We can picture a cowdog in there, or whatever,” he said. “I’ve known Seth (Sachson, animal shelter president) for years, and he gave me a heads up about this and I said I’d try to weave it into my curriculum.”Feldman said the Aspen Animal Shelter is $300,000 away from being finished with its private capital campaign for the new shelter that’s already being constructed near the Airport Business Center. The Bow-Wow Meow Ball, a major fund-raiser, and houndhaus auction are scheduled for Saturday night at the Chaparral Ranch in Woody Creek.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is

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