Release the Hounds

Photo by Jeanne RiceYorba Linda: Four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath house in semi-equestrian tract

Occupants: Keith and Monika deBrucky Paid: $191,000 in 1984

The Orange County you don't hear so much about is inland—not so sexy, without the stretch of rugged coastline and whispers of a nude beach.

It's also not so relentlessly hyped, which kinda makes it cooler. This is the Orange County you won't see on The O.C. (filmed in Hermosa Beach). In a word—two, actually—it's Yorba Linda.

Roughly 59,000 people call it home, among them, 20-year residents Keith and Monika deBrucky, who came here from Germany (Keith was in the Army) by way of the Midwest.

"Yorba Linda is definitely one of the few remaining areas of Orange County that has this old-town feeling," Monika deBrucky told me recently at the couple's home, just minutes from the Yorba Linda Country Club and the Nixon Library. "You see horseback riders at the McDonald's, parking their horses."

You can't park a horse at the deBruckys' Mediterranean-influenced manse 'cause The Man will write you a ticket—no horses allowed in this part of town. The house, though, looks big enough to have a horse barn out back.

Appearances are deceptive. I discover it's the coziest 2,200-square-foot house I've ever been in. That's because the several rooms are on the small side. Four bedrooms, an entry hall and a formal dining room eat up space. Which is good—no more shouting across the living room about which Def Leppard CD to put on next.

Deception is rather key here in other ways: this is a house that seems to be typical old Orange County—in the words of a friend, "old, rich and boring."

I didn't see any bank statements left out, so I can't answer for the rich part. The old part . . . well, I guess you're as young as you feel. Her youngest of three children just went off to Berkeley, but when I meet her, Monika deBrucky is rockin' a pair of red-leather pants that makes me want to give her the rock & roll sign. I refrain 'cause some people still associate it with the Beast. Nice pants, though.

As for boring, yeah. This'd definitely be a boring house if it were vacant and no one lived there. But the people—and the two Weimaraners—liven things up considerably.

That's right: two—ah-hah!—one, two Weimaraners. Ah-hah! And I quickly realize they own the place: books on dogs are the only items left out on the sparkling glass coffee table.

Opposite the coffee table and sectional sofa, where Rex the Weimaraner holds me hostage in the living room by falling asleep on my feet, there's a statue of a dog—I kid you not, it's a doleful-eyed bloodhound with a small table on its head.

These, I quickly realize, are animal-lovers, and they like dogs especially. Enough to continuously rebuild the French doors when the dogs—then young enough to chew things up—kept, well, chewing things up.

You're not a home owner until your dog—or, okay, your cat—fully wrecks your house. My uncle lived in a motor home until his Airedale ate the inside. Here, the dogs eat doors.

"My husband told me it was either him or the dogs," Monika deBrucky said. "I said, 'Don't ask me to choose.'"

Which colors me mildly shocked when her husband comes home. We get into a discussion about whether Oswald acted alone—he says yes—as I admire the dining room full of vintage European oaken table, chairs and sideboard, as well as the less-stuffy kitchen, where a ceramic rooster statue towers over me from the kitchen counter.

It's a TV series in the making: When Roosters Attack. With my other hand, I'm dialing FOX.

The coolest thing here, though, I don't find until I'm ready to leave. It's the hidden entertainment center, cleverly tucked behind a panel in the living room wall, right next to the fireplace. It's all MacGyver and stuff, but the kind of MacGyver that doesn't take an hour to get to the point. Unlike me.


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