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A dog's life INDEED!
A dog's life INDEED!

Vintner Daryl Sattui has his Castello di Amorosa, but Napa dog lover Kip Atchley has Poodle’s Palace.

Built in honor of his adopted pet dog Miss Poodles, Atchley has created a labor of love in the backyard of his north Napa home.

Atchley built Poodle’s Palace for Miss Poodles who resides in the mansion. Miss Poodles, a white terrier mix with bright black eyes, came to live with Atchley after her original owner, Judy Martin, passed away several years ago.

At the time Miss Poodles was mostly housebound with the elderly woman, said Atchley. When asked if he would adopt the dog, Atchley was hesitant at first.

“I wasn’t sure if I could take on a dog,” said Atchley. “Especially a dog that had some house-training issues.”

Fast forward three years and Atchley has not only housebroken and trained Miss Poodles, he’s built a luxurious manor for the top dog in the backyard of his well-kept mobile home.

Looking at Poodle’s Palace, it’s hard to imagine Miss Poodles once lived in an ordinary “igloo-shaped” doghouse.

The palace, painted  lavender to match the flowers in Atchley’s landscaping, is 80 square feet and three floors high. Stepping into the gated mini front yard, Atchley reveals one of two control panels as the doors to Poodle’s Palace swing open.

Atchley’s into electronics, and it shows.

Poodle’s Palace is an engineering marvel featuring electronic doors, lighting, sound system, DVD player (labeled “Poodlevision”), smoke detector, heated bed, verandah, air conditioning and doorbell.

“I bet this is the only dog house in the world with an electronic doorbell,” he said proudly.

Sliding doors open to reveal a pink bedroom with a Benji poster, padded bed and other decorations. Curtains frame windows. The floors are parquet or carpet. A hidden panel contains neatly wrapped wiring with carefully labeled switches. A stained glass window illuminates one wall. A working chandelier hangs from the ceiling. With the pull of a handle a hidden row of doggie treats pops down.

Atchley said he originally planned to build the house with leftover materials.

“But once I set that first board down, there was no going back. I was committed,” said Atchley.

Looking at the palace today, Atchley admits the project took on a life of its own.

“As I kept going, I couldn’t help it,” he said. He was compelled to build. Atchley worked like a dog for two years to complete his creative vision.

“I really didn’t expect it would be so much work. But I made a promise to myself to finish it,” he said.

To understand Poodle’s Palace is to understand the builder himself.

At age 7 Atchley built his own town in his backyard. At 9, he built and ran a haunted house which included trap doors, electronics, control room and telephone system. For years it was a popular stop for locals, fundraising parties and was regularly covered by Bay Area news media.

Hired by the founder of Atari, at 21 Atchley then went on to design play space interiors around the world for Chuck E. Cheese, design gift shops, manage the Wooz maze in Vacaville and work at the family business, Lixit. He currently works at Napa Nissan filling a variety of roles.

This is a man, who, when he says he’s going to do something, he does it right. And if that includes air conditioning a doghouse, so be it.

“It got stuffy inside,” and Miss Poodles needed a cool place to escape the heat, said Atchley.

Atchley paid $50 for a small window air conditioner so Miss Poodles can relax in comfort during the dog days of summer. It’s kind of ironic, because Atchley doesn’t have air conditioning in his own home.

He reluctantly estimates he’d spent around $4,000 to build the doggie mansion. Having said this, Atchley realizes some people might think he went over the top.

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“If I’m going to be a pet owner, I’m going to do it right,” he said. “I wanted to make the best doghouse.

“If it makes the dog happy, I’m happy,” said Atchley. “It makes people smile. If I can make one person smile, that’s very satisfying.”

And what does Miss Poodles think of her hideaway?

“She loves it,” said Atchley, as Miss Poodles scampered through the doggie abode.

Is there anything that he didn’t include in the pooch palace?

Well, he considered adding a built-in vacuum cleaner, said Atchley. But he didn’t.

“There’s a point where you have to face reality.”

For more about Poodle’s Palace, contact kipatchley@hotmail.com

Poodle palace | Sept. 9, 2007
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