TRAVERSE CITY — Brian Manley would love to settle in on a cold winter night and know that every dog in northern Michigan is warm and protected from the elements.
But Manley, who along with partner June McGrath founded the animal rescue and placement organization AC Paw of Traverse City, knows that’s never the case.
“Some breeds, like Huskies, that have been raised outdoors all their lives might be able to tolerate the cold Michigan winters, but all dogs can’t acclimate to it. In the 18 years we’ve done this we’ve seen dogs with no shelter during winter.
“We’ve found dogs tied to trees in blizzards. Some freeze to death, and some are just miserable all winter,” Manley said.
AC Paw wants to make dog owners aware of the importance of providing a good doghouse for their outdoor pets by sponsoring a free Doghouse Building Clinic on Aug. 24 from 1 to 4 p.m. Lowe’s, 3150 U.S. 31 in Traverse City.
“Outdoor dogs have to have good shelter,” Manley said. “Our goal is for people to make a really nice house for their own dog, then ideally, they will draw more people into the doghouse building program.”
Manley turned to an unexpected resource, Dr. Michael Schulte, of Traverse City Heart and Vascular, for the plans for the ultimate dog house.
“Dr. Schulte is not only an excellent cardiologist, he also is an excellent wood craftsman,” Manley said.
The dog house he built is the prototype for the ones the clinic will offer.
“My wife is a dog lover. We’ve always had dogs, and except for one, they all came from AC Paw,” Schulte said. “My dad made the original doghouse when I was growing up, which is the plan I used for the two houses I built for my own dogs when we’re away for short periods of time.”
Schulte said most traditional doghouses have a big opening cut in the front that exposes the dog to blasts of cold air. His doghouse plan is structurally insulated with foam panels and a small Thermopane window.
The dog enters and exits through a side hallway that cuts off cold drafts. Schulte adds an insulated floor and an airtight double roof lined with commercial roofing material so dogs can stay snug and warm through most Michigan winter conditions. The roof is removable so the house is easy to clean, and the straw bedding can be changed. The upcoming clinic will offer material lists for both a deluxe and a less-expensive economy model.
“Dr. Schulte also has built 16 miniature doghouses that hold a rack for newsletters and a collection box for donations,” Manley said. “We are looking for businesses or locations that will let us display them.”
The August clinic will give pet owners plenty of time to ensure their pets’ deluxe accommodations are completed before the first snowflake flies.
“This winter get your dog outside, exercise him, work on agility training, but also be sure he has a safe, secure, warm place to stay during those cold winter months,” Manley said.
Register for the Aug. 24 Doghouse Building Clinic by contacting Manley at email@example.com or by calling 231-499-1301.