Friday, January 29, 2010

Paw Prints In The Chimney

This evening I was reflecting on what I would want in my dream house: a good bathroom, a nice kitchen with a window overlooking the horse paddocks, and a nicely arranged grooming room. But the most important thing would be the chimney with a brick imprinted with a paw print.

Every house I have ever lived in happened to have a chimney with one brick emblazoned with a paw print. My family never planned it that way, we never commissioned a brick for this purpose, and we didn't notice them until long after purchasing the houses we lived in. But, without fail each house had this unique characteristic, adding puppy charm to our home.

Paw print bricks don't seem to be a trait associated with any particular geographical region. At least not in our case. Our paw print homes have been in Indiana, New Jersey, South Carolina and Vermont.

The paw print chimneys have come to be something special my family shares. We often wonder how the paw print got on the brick - was it a naughty dog running across wet bricks, or did someone plan it that way? The bricks have brought a certain sort of charm to the homes we've lived in throughout my life, and is a great story when guests visit. There is something comforting to know when the homes were built animals were part of the process, and now, in the case of three of the houses, over 100 years later the animals are still a loving part of the household. It's nice to look down and see a dog with a wagging tail at your feet and turn your head to gaze at the chimney and see a paw print - as though the chimney is a reflection of the cherished pets that live there.

This is a tradition I hope to continue when I one day buy or build a house. I'm not sure how I would go about getting a paw print brick and I might have to find a brick maker. It would be neat to have a brick made with the paw print of one of my dogs and know that one day, perhaps more than 100 years later, someone would look at that brick and wonder about the animals present when the chimney was constructed.


  1. Maybe I can help you with how the pawprint gets in the brick? Here in Arizona, we have several places that manufacture traditional Mexican style tiles for use mainly on floors, but I've seen them on countertops, fireplaces, etc. The process to make them includes letting them dry in the sun after forming (usually by hand) for several days until they are dry and ready for the kiln. It's kind of neat to see all the tiles laid out over a large area of land - the set them right on the ground! Well, there isn't much protecting the tiles, so coyotes, dogs, birds and chickens walk right over them! I always thought it gave them so much character, but a lot of people don't want the paw print stones. Also, in the last housing boom, a lot of houses in Arizona were built without using this traditional tile - it is kind of sad actually!


  2. No matter what the reason, I'd love to have a paw print chimney!