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Maker Mayhem #9

Radiant Heated Dog House: Because shoving Rover’s paw in a light socket wouldn’t be cruel enough.

“As long as Rover pays his ‘doghouse rent’ in the way of companionship, watchdog service, entertainment, etc.,” the introduction of this How-To tells us, “the least you can do is winterize his outdoor quarters.” Fair enough, and further proof that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, not even for Rover.

Recommended for Makers living in “rugged winter climates,” this doghouse offers Rover a warm place to rest his ass until the snow melts by way of a sheet metal floor designed to conduct the heat produced by a set of two, 40-Watt light bulbs fastened to the subflooring beneath. But if Rover doesn’t emerge from his toasty doghouse by April it might very well be because he was electrocuted in March. And yanking Rover from that doghouse after rigor mortis has set in is not going to be easy or pretty, so wait till the kids are off to school and make sure to have a pair of work gloves and a couple of contractor bags on hand.

There’s a reason why people who live in snowy climates run sump pumps in their basements during the spring thaw: just like Rover’s subflooring, basements can flood. Unless Rover’s quarters sit on some extremely well-drained soil, just one freaky, late-winter rain over a couple feet of melting snow, and that submerged subflooring—exposed to the ground by design—could turn Rover’s doghouse into his execution chamber quicker than you could say “Do you smell something burning?” If Rover is old and incontinent, he may not have to wait until spring. Extra points for the Maker who salts exterior pathways to prevent the buildup of ice; salty water, wet paws, live electricity, and sheet metal make for one shit show of a doghouse. And what if the water never reaches the sheet metal? The bulbs might remain lit, sizzling indefinitely in their sockets, and gradually warm the sheet metal floor to a temperature hot enough to fry bacon—not to mention Rover—rendering the doghouse uninhabitable and forcing him into the cold. Or the circuit might short and trip the breaker, saving Rover from electrocution but leaving him no warmer than he’d be in a doghouse without radiant heat and no one would be the wiser, except Rover. Then just one night cold enough to freeze that water, and that sheet metal might frost over like the proverbial flagpole, fusing Rover’s balls to the floor on contact.

If this booby trap is Rover’s reward for being the perfect companion, round-the-clock security guard, and an on-call entertainer, what happens if Rover’s “dog house rent” should fall into arrears? What happens if his jokes get stale or he snoozes right through a burglary? Is he shown the door and served with an eviction notice? Is there such a thing as dog house-renter’s rights? And where does Rover turn for advocacy?

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