On tonight’s episode, I took a drive into the forests of Northern Ontario to meet Sharon and her husband Paul, who rescue and find homes for unwanted dogs from Northern communities.

When they started the rescue program, Paul built a small, heated dog-cottage on their property to house the rescued pups while awaiting adoption. Like a Great Dane pup in a bachelor pad, Moosonee Puppy Rescue quickly outgrew its headquarters, and Paul was charged with fetching a solution.

That solution is more space for the dogs, a room for people to clean and care for individual puppies, storage space for food and other necessities, and an escape-proof dog run. Paul built the original dog run with a four-foot fence, which means he spends a lot of time chasing escapees around the property. I showed Paul how to puppy-proof the fence without wasting his material, time and effort by building new fence panels to raise the height of the original fence — the run went from optional to maximum security for even the biggest slobbering guests. I also showed Paul how to plan and build a small addition to create more space for people and pets, complete with footings, floor, walls, and a hand cut roof that would support a Northern snow load.

When planning any project, plan for the future — growing into a larger space is often easier and cheaper than adding space after the fact. Choosing the right products for the job is equally important — we chose simple, non-toxic, and easily cleaned materials for the inside of the dog house, and cedar shakes for the outside to match the main house.

Paul taught me a thing or two about his old-school cedar siding technique, and we ended up in a canine-inspired “shake-off” … where I’d like to think I held my own!

– Bryan Baeumler is host of Disaster DIY: Cottage Edition, airing tonight at 9 p.m. on HGTV. Visit www.hgtv.ca/disasterdiy for streamed episodes and exclusive content.

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