Paw-Inspiring Pads: Inside Berkeley's Dachshund House
Berkeley resident Eni Green is a lover of all things kitsch and a self-proclaimed "Doxieholic." As an avid collector and an art aficionado, her focus is primarily on Dachshund-related sculptures, figurines, paintings, signs, and knickknacks. She believes that when it comes to Dachshunds, you can never have just one, because there is something highly addictive about them. Through her public tributes to her favorite breed, Eni is proud to show the world just what a Dachshund fiend she is.
I discovered Eni's home a few years back when my dog Miles and I decided to take a new and extended route on our daily walk. I clearly remember the day I first saw what I named the Dachshund House, and I've been completely enchanted by it ever since. For me, it's a symbol of what I have come to not only love, but truly value and appreciate about the city of Berkeley. Here, freedom of expression knows no bounds.
Eni has clearly embraced the ethos of this quirky and creative city. According to her, "If it makes you happy, it really can't be that bad." In other words, if you're obsessed with Dachshunds, why not surround yourself with, well, thousands of them?
Recently, I had the privilege of spending a wonderful afternoon chatting with Eni about her passion for Dachshunds, the art she commissions and collects, and the story behind the urban renewal art sculptures that adorn the front of her home.
Walking through the Dachshund archway leading to the front door, I couldn't wait to finally see the interior of the home I've admired for years. I had a strong feeling it would be something special. I was not disappointed. And I realized immediately that we had so much more to talk about than the extraordinary art in her front yard.
Dogster: Clearly you have a passion for Dachshunds. When did your love affair with this breed begin?
Eni: I've had Dachshunds most of my life. That was the first dog I was allowed to have that supposedly wasn't allergenic. I used to let the water run when I would sneeze so my mother wouldn't know I was sick. By the time she realized it, it was too late to return the dog. I've had Dachshunds ever since. It's like an addiction: Doxieholics can never just have one! I know every breed has people who love them. I just love Dachshunds.
Dogster: I've been dying to know for years: How did the sculptures in the front of your house come about? Who built these and what was the inspiration?
Eni: One of the Dachshunds that I really loved passed away. He and I just had a really wonderful connection. After he died, someone sent me a picture of some of the work of the artist that did the sculptures in front of my house. I wrote to him online and asked him if he would make a tribute to my dog. I went up to Sebastopol where he lives. His name is Patrick Amiot.
I gave him a picture of Maximillian (my dog), and a few months later, he came down with this dog. The collection just kept growing after that.
Dogster: I've noticed that you have a large Dachshund head peering up from behind your fence. What is that and where did it come from?
Eni: That's from the Doggie Diner. There were 32 diners in the Bay Area called the Doggie Diner that used to have these on top of them. Years ago, I went to the Museum of Modern Mythology and they had one there on display. I thought, "My god, it's everything I love!" It's a Dachshund, and it's kitsch, and it's an advertisement. And I'm enchanted by all of them.
I never thought I'd have one but one day, many years later, I was looking in the paper under garage sales and it said, "Doggie Diner head for sale." So I bought it. I didn't even have a place I was living, so I stored it at my friend's house until I got a place I could bring it. I really love him. Some people think he's a little bit scary-looking but to me, I think he's darling.
Dogster: Your home is covered in incredible dog-related art, not to mention the Dachshund that's painted on your staircase! You are quite the art collector. Where do you find all of these great pieces, and how did the staircase come about?
Eni: I guess I would consider myself an art collector, but certainly not in the same way that other people would consider themselves art collectors. I majored in Spanish in college and my Spanish professor was an artist. I bought one of his paintings and it's been downhill ever since.
I like to purchase art at garage sales and small shops in Berkeley. I've also commissioned some portraits of my dogs over the years from dog portrait artists Jane Oriel and Fran Frank.
On one occasion while I was working in the hospital, I saw a wonderful artist sketching in his notebook. I asked him if he would paint a portrait of my dogs and he did a beautiful painting of my dachshunds based on a photo my roommate took. It turns out he was actually a well-known painter named Paul Ferney.
As for the Dachshund on the staircase, it was something I always envisioned on that staircase and I felt it had to be there, so I commissioned an artist to come in and paint it. I love it.
Dogster: What has been the community response to your displayed Dachshund art? Have you found that it's something your neighbors have embraced?
Eni: In the beginning, I was really afraid that someone was going to vandalize these sculptures. They were a tribute I had done for my wonderful dog who died, and I didn't want anything to happen to them. But a lot of people really love them and it makes the children very happy. They think it's so clever, because they look at the parts and they see that the tail is a windshield wiper and there are different parts from automobiles and the head is a mailbox. I think it's good that it shows people you can make things from garbage.
Found art is possible. You don't have to have a million dollars, and you can use your imagination. I think the neighborhood has embraced it. My friends always tell me that people stop and they come to take pictures.
I know that when I didn't have a house and I used to walk around, I always gravitated toward the houses that had something special and something that wasn't the norm. I think it has added charm to the neighborhood. I hope it has inspired the young people to do art. I hope that everyone enjoys it and that it makes them smile.
About the Author: Christine Martinez is the design-savvy writer behind the popular pet style site Miles to Style. She also pens Dogster's Picks of the Week every Thursday right here on the For the Love of Dog Blog.