The Fido Mansion: A Look At America’s Most Pampered Pets

Americans own approximately 61 million dogs and owners spend an average of over $2,000 a year to keep their pooches healthy, happy and well-fed. If you do the math, that adds up to a lot of kibbles and chew toys.

But what about people who can afford to be far more lavish in pampering their prized poodles or indulging their Irish setters? Take a look at the homes they’ve provided for their faithful companions in the hourlong special Doggone Design, premiering Aug. 19 on HGTV. The custom-built doggie digs include pagodas, palazzos and miniature versions of their owners’ luxury homes complete with custom furniture covered in luxury fabrics.

Among the owners featured are the Feldmans, a family in Hull, Mass., who own three ornate doghouses. As Jo Feldman puts it, it’s not that they are all that they are really so into pampering their dogs, but they are apparently aficionados of unique yard art.

When Feldman and her husband were invited to Barkitecture (a fundraiser for which architects build ornate doghouses that are auctioned off to benefit Hull Seaside Animal Rescue in Feldman’s hometown), they had no intention of buying anything. However, they were immediately smitten by one of the houses, a lighthouse with a working rotating light. Living right by the ocean, they decided it was perfect for their yard. “Of course we bid on it, and we paid too much,” Feldman says. Cost: $12,000.

Needless to say, they were invited back the next year and went, but only after swearing they would not buy another doghouse. Instead they donated another $17,500 to a good cause and went home with two: a windmill — to celebrate Feldman’s Dutch heritage — and Fenway Bark, a replica of the Boston Red Sox stadium.

The first two houses are kept outside. The stadium replica is kept in the house because, Feldman says, it is too precious to allow to weather.

Doggone Design also looks at other things owners buy to pamper their best friends – designer shades to protect those soulful eyes from the sun, jeweled dog collars and luxury clothes, and trips to canine fun parks and day spas that offer everything from “pawdicures” to hydrotherapy tanks and acupuncture.

It’s hard to tell what the dogs so pampered think of all this fuss. Maybe, like Feldman’s dogs — and most everyone else’s — they like their fur unadorned and prefer to sleep on their owners’ beds.

To solve their crowded sleeping arrangements, Feldman says, “We needed to get a king-size bed because they were taking up all the room. After all, we pay the mortgage so we thought we deserved a decent night’s sleep.”

For a look at more ways to pamper your own dog or other pets, check out Pet Expo 2006. This special airs immediately after Doggone Design and takes you inside a trade show filled with great new products for pet care and amusement — or indifference, in the case of cats.