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B.C.'s bartending dog inspires chicken-wire sculptor


Before Sheena McCorqudale was inspired to craft a chicken-wire sculpture showing a dog holding a beer bottle in his mouth, Mike the dog was a beloved bartender.

“Mike was arguably the most famous character to come out of [the town] of Bowser,” Sheena smiles.

Sheena says the pup was recognized by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not for his work at the Bowser Hotel during the early 1940s.

“He would go and take the beer out of the fridge and take it to the customers,” Sheena says. “And then bring the change back.”

Like Mike the bartending dog, Sheena’s career path has taken unexpected turns, including a stint designing an iconic gameshow.

“I loved it. It was so exciting,” Sheena says of leading the design team on almost 250 episodes of Let’s Make A Deal. “Someone would run in and say, ‘We need six dancing swans in half an hour!’ And you’d have to produce.”

After Sheena stopped creating TV shows, she decided to start building a cat hotel.

“I really put my mind into what a cat would like,” Sheena smiles, pointing out forest-print wallpaper and two-storey rooms for the cats to climb around with access to an outside enclosure.

Sheena also installed a TV screen to keep her feline guests entertained.

“You don’t look for ‘cat movies’,” Sheena smiles, referencing a video showing a squirrel eating accompanied by a soundtrack of bird chirping. “You look for ‘movies for cats to watch’. And that is a genre!”

After Sheena learned she could only post a small sign to advertise her home-based business, she discovered there was no limit to how many cat sculptures she could place on her property.

“So I started making giant cats out of chicken wire,” Sheena says showing how she layers and bends the metal, before displaying the sculptures on the roof of the cat hotel. “And that sort of snowballed.”

Sheena says she was inspired to breathe life into the industrial material, transforming it into dynamic dancers with flowing dresses, majestic knights on horse back, and orca whales swimming through the waves.

“The feeling of movement you can get,” Sheena smiles. “It’s really quite beautiful.”

Now she shows her sculptures (and acrylic paintings) in a gallery attached to the cat hotel called the Cat House Gallery.

Sheena has sold more than 70 pieces to international art collectors, and completed commissions like the sculpture of Mike the bartending dog that’s currently being displayed on top of a local business sign in Bowser.

Sheena says she would love to make an even bigger version of Mike one day.

“You know how Duncan has the giant hockey stick?” Sheena says. “I’d like a giant Mike the dog, that people could take photos with.”

And be inspired by. Like Mike made the most of being a dog in a small town hotel and like Sheena made a deal to reinvent herself after working on a gameshow.

“My mother used to tell me, ‘Bloom where you’re planted,’” Sheena says, holding up a sign in the cat hotel saying the same phrase. “Take whatever situation you’re in and make the best of it.” Top Stories

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