Doggy mansions don't come cheap. La Petite Maison's start at $6,000, and that price does not include landscaping, furnishings or shipping.
LOS ANGELES — Darla, Chelsea and Coco Puff share a quaint Victorian-style home.
Their dwelling has a cedar-shake roof, vaulted ceilings and hardwood floors, heating and air conditioning, moldings and casement windows, drapery with valances and fanciful wallpapers.
At this time of year, Christmas music from the RCA Victor radio carries outside to a grassy yard surrounded by a white picket fence.
A sign on the porch reads: “Three spoiled dogs live here.”
Most Read Business Stories
- Seattle among top markets as U.S. home prices increase by double-digit percentages for the first time in years
- Another top Amazon executive to leave company
- Boeing 757 bound for Seattle makes emergency landing
- Alaska Airlines ordered to pay $3.2M to family of woman who died after escalator fall
- Fry's Electronics executive accused of embezzling $65 million
For Yorkshire terriers Chelsea and Coco Puff and Pomeranian Darla, Mom is Tammy Kassis, 45, a former insurance agent who lives in the Riverside County community of Winchester, east of Los Angeles. To call her an animal lover is an understatement.
“I’m beyond that,” she says, later adding with conviction, “My dogs are my life.”
Kassis is also the owner of 2-year-old Rio, a Doberman pinscher, and a pair of Arabian horses, Cheval and Page.
Five years ago, when she and her husband, advertising executive Sam Kassis, were living in a Victorian home in Temecula, she decided the dogs needed their own place.
“It was a great place for the horses, but it was so rural I was afraid for the dogs. An owl almost carried off Coco Puff,” Tammy Kassis recalls.
But not just any old doghouse would do.
Surfing the Internet, she happened upon Alan Mowrer’s La Petite Maison, a builder of deluxe custom doghouses.
“I can do any style,” says Mowrer, whose repertoire includes French châteaux, Tudor mansions, Swiss chalets and brick Colonial dog houses.
Kassis requested a replica of her own Victorian home.
But doggy mansions don’t come cheap. La Petite Maison’s start at $6,000, and that price does not include landscaping, furnishings or shipping.
Kassis guesstimates she has invested nearly $20,000 in construction, transport and equipment if she includes the painting, landscaping, screened doors and windows, mini-blinds and ceiling fans, as well as a yard with artificial turf.
When the couple moved to a new home in Winchester this summer, Kassis refused to leave behind the dogs’ house. A long flatbed truck and a 45-ton crane were required to transport the 5,000-pound home.
Today, the three little dogs live in their 8-foot-by-11-foot abode, which Kassis has decorated in what she calls “French boutique.” Just above the chair rail is a wallpaper frieze of Parisian shopping bags; a lamp shaped like a handbag lights the room. Overhead, a small fan circulates the air; dog photos decorate the walls. A vintage dresser holds the dogs’ clothing.
“My mother buys them most of the outfits,” Kassis says. “She treats them like they’re grandchildren.”
Each dog has its own bed. Although Coco Puff has a wrought-iron berth in the doghouse turret, he prefers to sleep with Darla on her leopard lounge. Chelsea, on the other hand, gets completely out of sorts when anyone approaches her canopy bed.
“She can get very aggressive — a very naughty girl,” says Kassis, stroking the senior dog who is half-blind.
Sitting just outside the picket fence, 85-pound Rio looks wistfully into the yard.
“He’s not allowed in unless I’m here to supervise,” Kassis explains. “They all get along, but if he gets excited he could step on them.”
For the holidays, Kassis plans to string white lights around the house and install an artificial tree. Large faux lollipops are staked in the flower bed around the doghouse.
Also, she confides, Santa is planning a big surprise for “the kids.”
She has her eye on a small plasma-screen TV.
“They love to watch Animal Planet,” Kassis says. “It’s their favorite.”