The always-infuriating New York Times Style section featured a story Thursday about insanely expensive dog houses. It was an article tailor-made made to generate the piquant brand of blind rage specific to every story featured by the always-infuriating New York Times Style section.
1. Mass-appeal general subject: Dogs.
2. Hook of excessive opulence: Dog houses designed to look like owners' houses, ranging in price from $650 - $25,000 (most of those discussed cost at least a couple thousand.)
3. Alleged associated buzzword: "Barkitecture"
4. Funny rich people reasoning: "All I can say is that if you have the money, what's the difference between spending it on a pet house or on a piece of diamond jewelry?"
5. This sentence: "The corner I put it in, it looks like kind of a plantation farm in a safari in South Africa."
But though it may seem at first to be just another fun, fury-inducing fluff piece inviting readers to go apoplectic over spoiled bitches and the bitches they spoil, the article's real scoop is dark and unsettling:
The rich people commissioning these things are nothing more than wealthy slumlords.
The doghouses discussed are exquisite deathtraps, not fit for even a dog to live in (but perfectly fine for an impoverished young woman looking to move to New York to live in: Please email me your lease requirements, wealthy slumlords).
Here's how one
architect barkitecht Frank Lloyd Bite from Philadelphia described the grift:
"It kind of began as a simple design exercise, looking at something that didn't deal with building code and clients who weren't going to change the program halfway through. It became a way to experiment with styles and construction methods."
In other words: the dogs, many of whom are unemployed and do not speak English, are being tricked into living in tiny doggie mansions that are not up to code.
Or so the owners would like.
Unfortunately for the corrupt supers interviewed by the Times, if dogs wanted to live in houses that looked like their owners' houses, they would just live in the regular, full-sized versions of those houses. And they do. And they are.
"[Whippet-borzoi mix] Maggie's never been in [her dog house]. She's a house dog."
"It's hard to get a dog to love the doghouse. He'd rather be in our bed."
But not all of the pets profiled in the story have given up completely on their dreams of independent home ownership. Some have adopted the ambitious tactic of attempting to convince their owners that they are not animals at all but, rather, human beings (presumably operating on the theory their landlords would then be forced to bring the buildings up to code).
"The cats look in every now and then. And Lucy the beagle walks by. But they say, ‘Uh-uh, we're couch people.' ".
Thus far the animals have made little progress.
So what will become of these beautiful, empty five-by-three-foot homes? Will each become a tiny Grey Gardens, left unattended to rot through decade after decade of rainy Hamptons winters, inhabited only by the bravest of raccoons and Academy Award winner Jessica Lange?
No. Because, as the aforementioned Philadelphia swindler explains, these ephemeral shanty-mansions are not made to last that long.
"If I build a doghouse and somebody is anticipating that it's going to last 10 years in their backyard, it's different from designing a house that somebody is expecting will last for 50 years. I can be more experimental."
"Be more experimental" is a Pennsylvania Dutch expression meaning "cut corners."
And these dogs don't have to stand for it.
(Because they can just live in the regular homes. As they are doing.)