At a Christmas party last year, Bruce Bischof of Sun River, Ore., was talking (''boasting'' say his friends) about his dog Falstaff. Falstaff, you see, is a golden retriever who does what he is supposed to do with exceptional efficiency and considerable enthusiasm when he goes on sporting trips with his master. And Bruce, who stands to gain most from Falstaff's expertise, was saying some nice things about his dog when someone asked if the retreiver were ever suitably rewarded for its efforts.
A chateaubriand for two from one of the region's better restaurants was one suggestion, but Bruce had a better idea. He would provide his pet with the most comfortable, energy-efficient doghouse in town. It would, in fact, be a solar doghouse.
The intention was expressed partly in jest at the time, but good ideas have a way of coming to fruition even if humorously conceived. This was one of those times.
Also at the party was architect Don Tompos and members of the Sun Forest Construction Company. The combined talents of designer and construction crew saw the project quickly completed, and Falstaff moved into his new home a couple of weekends later.
The doghouse is a small-scale duplicate of the thermal-envelope design of large solar homes. Because of its double walls, double roof, thermal storage, and 18 inches of air space beneath the floor, it stays warm in winter and cool in summer.
The dog's own body temperature and the low-angled winter sun that enters the glazing on the southern wall provide all the needed heat in winter. Summer sun is excluded by the roof overhang. A canvas door makes for easy entry.
Blueprints for the solar doghouse are available from Tompos Architectural Designs, Sun River Country Mall, Sun River, Ore. 97702.