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Illinois State Journal Register

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State Journal-Register, The (Springfield, IL) Building dream homes for pets

April 4, 2004 Section: HOME Page: 42 TAMARA BROWNING STAFF WRITER To keep up with the stray animals his family kept bringing home, Bob Schott took to building pet houses.

An activity born out of necessity has since turned into a business.

For nearly a year, Stabob's Handcrafted Pet Houses has provided wood doghouses, kitty houses and pet cages to animal lovers.

Although Schott works out of his garage at 1512 S. Pasfield St., most sales are generated through the Internet, with approximately 78 kitty houses and 24 doghouses already sold.

"The business I just pretty much started last summer," said Schott, 43, a stay-at-home dad of two girls ages 6 and 12.

"Over the years, it just evolved. People expressed interest in them, so I started selling them."

The most popular item is the kitty house, which is available in one to four levels.

The basic model, a one-story house, sells for $85 and measures 18 by 18 by 24 inches.

It has a rot-and-insect-resistant base, 2-inch Fiberglass-insulated floor, carpeting throughout the inside, a porthole-style window made of Plexiglass, a front door covered with a vinyl flap and exterior siding that's waterproof. Cracks and crevices are caulked with 35-year silicone. The kitty houses come in several colors, including pink and lavender plus pink and white.

"To get a new cat used to it, all you have to do is put the food in there for like the first week," Schott said. "Then they're going to remember that this is a nice, dry, safe place to go when the weather's cold or rainy, a thunderstorm, any kind of protection from the elements."

Schott's basic, one-story kitty house has sold for as much as $139 on eBay. That's not including $39 for shipping.

"Those people really wanted that," he said.

"The biggest part of my kitty houses (business) go to California and New York," Schott said. "I know New York gets cold, but I can't figure out California."

Schott's doghouses come in several styles and prices, but the Fairytale Doghouse is perhaps the most fancy. Measuring 48 by 40 by 39 inches, the Fairytale is for a large dog and includes a rot-resistant base, wood shingles and gingerbread siding at a cost of $345. All of Schott's doghouses (which come in small, medium, large and in some styles, extra-large) have linoleum floors.

"Dogs tend to want to tear up carpeting - chew it up and tear it out," Schott said.

Schott's neighbor, Amy Bledsoe, bought a medium-sized doghouse for her roughly 33-pound female beagle. Her dog enjoys the house, Bledsoe said.

"She's had it since last fall. She's about 14 years old. I wanted to get her something that was a little warmer than the igloo-type doghouses," said Bledsoe, whose doghouse has a "Scooby-Doo" front door flap.

Schott has been working on prototypes, including a cat nursery and deluxe rabbit cage. He also has invented a hamster cage, which looks like a piece of fine furniture, that he's made available for licensing to manufacturers.

"Woodworking has been a hobby of mine since ... I was a kid," said Schott, who can build four kitty houses in one day and one Fairytale Doghouse in four days.

In his spare time, Schott is working on a prototype cat mansion with 12 compartments for his 11 cats. At approximately 6 by 5 by 2 feet, the mansion will feature a glass front, scratching pole from top to bottom, a foyer, built-in heater, lights and several doorways. Schott said he is willing to make cat mansions for other pet owners who are interested.

In addition to the cats, the Schott household includes two rabbits, four guinea pigs and four dogs (two Shih Tzu, one Alaskan malamute and a mutt).

A former fast-food manager for 25 years, Schott is looking forward to watching his new venture grow.

"I'm going to give it a shot, and see if I can get anywhere with it."

For more information, call 753-4523 or e-mail stabob@sbcglobal.net. The Web site is www.stabobspethouses.com.

Bob Schott makes houses for all kinds of pets in his garage workshop.





-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- All content 2004- State Journal-Register, The (Springfield, IL) and may not be republished without permission.

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Please note that some of the houses pictured through out this sight have various upgrades and add-ons,most of the houses do not come with a window unless you add it and the standard door is made of wood with a vinyl flap.Unless stated otherwise in the description.

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