The Story of Doghouses

Better Hounds and Gardens

Fanciful doghouses fund worthy causes across the Triad

By Nancy Oakley     Photographs by Amy Freeman

Like most good ideas, it all started with a casual conversation. John Grein, a professional dog trainer who trains and handles police dogs for High Point Canine Solutions, was chatting with Robin Lindsay, a volunteer with Davidson County Animal Alliance. The two had gotten to know one another two years ago after Lindsay had sought Grein’s help with a German Shepherd rescue that was showing aggressive behavior. “I do a fundraiser every year in May for the High Point and Archdale police departments’ retired K-9 units,” Grein explains. A retired builder, he remembered another fundraiser from 20 years ago, “where we built playhouses for the community, and I challenged other builders to build them.” And then came the light-bulb moment: “‘We should do doghouses.’”

Under the handle, “Raise the Woof,” the two friends formed a board that included Lindsay’s cohort in animal rescue, Allyson Little, along with Mary Souder Hites. They put the word out last winter (typically a slow period for builders), with a goal of auctioning off 30 custom-built doghouses to benefit four charities. “We wanted to help two children’s organizations and two animal organizations,” Lindsay says. They chose to support Backpack Beginnings, which combats food insecurity among children; GOFAR (Go Out For A Run), a nonprofit that Lindsay founded to address childhood obesity; the High Point Retired K-9 Heath Fund, which helps with medical care costs for retired police dogs (many of which have sustained aches and pains and injuries in the line of duty); and Davidson County Animal Alliance, which rescues neglected and abused animals, and champions spaying and neutering.

Teaming up with High Point University and High Point Canine Solutions, the crew secured a date in late February for the fundraiser. They invited several vendors, some hawking food and jewelry, others, such as Break the Chain and Camp Bow Wow, advancing dog-related services to gather in The High Point University Community Center in the former Oak Hollow Mall. The appointed day arrived . . . and far exceeded anyone’s expectations.

Some 60 doghouses started pouring into the Community Center. “I was amazed at the craftsmanship!” says Lindsay. “The detail!” The structures included everything from a Snoopy Red Baron doghouse to a Boeing jet. Thomas Built buses fashioned a house from the grill on the front of one of its buses and a replica of one of its early trolley cars. On behalf of the High Point Police Department, David Saintsing of Royal Remodeling in Thomasville created a Swiss chalet with a long, low-slung shingled roof. “Price nursery had flowers on top of theirs. It was out of this world!” Lindsay recalls. Orrell’s Food Service recreated one of its tractor trailers with a slight name change in its logo, “Orrell’s Woof Service,” taking a couple of food bowls along for the ride. Prizes awarded for Best In Show, Most Unique and Funniest, the last of which went to a camper (an “aarf V”?)  that was ultimately shipped to some dog-lovers in Florida.

“We estimated we had 400 to 500 people come throughout the day,” says Grein. “We sold all 60 houses and grossed right around $20,000.” All of it went “right back into the nonprofits,” he says.

Grein credits Lindsay, Allyson Little and Souder Hites as the driving forces behind the event. “We had such a good feedback and response that we have been asked to do it again next year in February and include cat houses and bird houses,” he says. An event that will be worth Tweeting about, no question (for forthcoming information, go to In the meantime, this year’s entries, scattered hither and yon, are enjoying a second life as homes to pooches in need of shelter, as objets d’art for dog-lovers, or curiosities that give one  . . . paws.


Best In Show(place)

Take a stroll down Woof Lane on the property of AA Stables off Groometown Road and you can’t miss it: a miniature copy of the horse barn on the hill just above, with its own landscaping. “Dale and I talked about doing a fundraiser,” says Aryn Schloemer, the stables’ owner, referring to her best friend Dale Jennings, whose family has owned and operated Bicycle Toy and Hobby in High Point since 1927. Raise the Woof provided them with a ripe opportunity. “We’re super competitive. It was winter  . . . and we were bored,” Schloemer says. They would find out just how competitive, though, when they set about collaborating on the project. “This is Dale’s design,” she says laughing, as she produces a crude pencil drawing square with a triangle on top and a single arched doorway. Then she reveals her mother Myra’s design, which would become their blueprint. It contained a front door with a porch, a side doggie door, dormers and a silo. Jennings would build — and build, and build, as the level of detail ratcheted up. His simple arch for a doggie door gave way to sliding-track double doors. And a house has to have windows, too. “Mom does stained glass,” Schloemer explains, “so we made her put one in.” And why not some LED lighting and a solar panel? Schloemer’s father-in-law, an engineer stepped in to help. “There were intense moments, because we’re all very aggressive,” Schloemer admits. The silo would double as a chute for the dog food to slide down right into a bowl. And the interior of the house seemed plain, so Schloemer enlisted the help of an artist friend to paint a mural — of dogs, dontcha know. But the real test, not only of craftsmanship but also of friendship, was the little front porch with the slate foundation. “That porch was the undoing of us,” Schloemer recalls. “It was ridiculous!” Jennings chimes in. And it was about the only thing the two friends seem to agree on, as a bemused Robin Lindsay confirms. “They were bickering with each other the whole time,” she laughs, remembering their setting up on the day of the Raise the Woof fundraiser. But pain usually produces great art, and on that day in February, AA Stables and Bicycle Toy and Hobby took home the first-place prize of Best In Show. Which means Dale Jennings is no longer in the doghouse.

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