"The Perfect Dog Room"

This article first appeared in the April 2005 AKC Gazette and is reprinted with permission. AKC logo
by Marget Johnson

In 2004 we built our retirement house in Downeast Maine. After 20 years raising Newfs, I planned to build the perfect dog room, incorporating many ideas I’ve collected over the years from friends, especially Suzanne Jones of Mooncusser Newfoundlands. Our new dog room is 14’ x 24’, set between the kitchen and the garage.

A Dutch door separates the dog room from the kitchen. The dog room also has an entrance door to the front yard, to minimize traffic through the kennel area, a door to the fenced rear deck, and a door to the garage where the dog runs are located. The dog room walls are 5’ of vertical beaded wood wainscoting topped by 2’ of drywall, all painted white. Rosettes and show photos cover the drywall, adding color but positioned high enough to minimize collecting dog hair and dust. Electric wall outlets are installed at 4ft above the baseboard on separate 20 amp circuits to handle multiple dryers. Shaker peg rails above the wainscoting on two walls hold coats, leads, bibs, etc. Two pegs are reserved for the wet/dry vac hose and cord, so the vacuum is always set up, plugged-in and ready to roll whenever needed (often). The floor is exterior grade plywood waterproofed with four coats of gymnasium-strength polyurethane. The plywood is topped with a loose-laid low profile carpet in a nondescript mix of mud, Newf hair and spit colors. The carpet is cheap, easily pulled up and tossed when it gets too gross.

The grooming tub is set at 33” high. Rolling wooden stairs are a planned addition to facilitate getting the old dogs in and out of the tub (and saving my old back). The tub is surrounded with white tile that is easily cleaned of wet Newf hair using a window-washer’s squeegee. A tiled shelf at one end of the tub holds a dish drainer for drying food bowls. The water connection is a shower control fixture that allows separate management of the pressure and the temperature. Instead of a showerhead, there is a 6’ washing machine hose ending with garden spray nozzle. The washer and dryer are in a closet next to the tub, behind bi-fold doors to minimize the amount of dog hair settling on clean laundry.

The dropped ceiling is acoustical tile with florescent light panels set in every other grid space. Combined with the white walls, this arrangement gives great lighting for grooming – no shadows. A pantry stores shampoos, medicine, dog biscuits, etc, and an old pie safe holds the dog towels and bed covers. There is plenty of room for two Newf-sized crates, grooming table, large wheeled trashcan for kibble storage, and even a whelping box (maybe, someday). With Maine winters expected to be bitterly cold and the kennel area unheated, the dog room can comfortably sleep 5 adult Newfs.

After living in our new house for two months, I have only one comment: WHITE wainscoting? What was I thinking?- M.J.