I think I was about eight years old when I got my first puppy. My brother was 10, it was Christmas Eve and we were living in Chesapeake, Virginia. I found it odd that our mom was playing Barbra Streisand albums really, really loudly all night long. But she’s an eccentric one, that mother of mine, so I just chalked it up to “mom being mom.” The next morning, though, the reason for her nocturnal auditory assault came bounding, wagging and slobbering up to the Christmas tree. It turned out “Sandy,” as we named our Golden Retriever puppy, had been wailing in the garage all night, and Babs and her soothing, soulful melodies were called upon to mask the sad pup’s whining.
After Sandy, it was years before I owned a dog again. I’ve had cats for ages (five, in fact, until rather recently) but never felt I had the time or the space to care for a dog. That all changed when I met my husband, Glenn, in 2007. He already had two large (as in, 80- and 110-pounds large) German shepherds. I was instantly smitten with all things canine all over again. When our shepherd, Spider, passed away quite suddenly in 2008, Glenn was overcome with sadness. Several weeks later, we went to a pet adoption and spotted the Black Lab mix pictured above. Dexter keeps us in stitches. He’s hilarious, goofy and an absolute sweetheart.
I can’t imagine life without dogs now. They’re messy, loving, loyal and every other adjective associated with goodness in this world, in my estimation. For today’s Small Measures, in honor of the love Design*Sponge is directing at pets this month, I’m sharing some DIY canine projects. From an easy-peasy dog bed and homemade dog treats to an odor-banishing pet spray (because no matter how much we adore our dogs, I think we can all agree that they kind of smell), there’s something here for every dog lover and every sloppy kiss and outstretched paw. — Ashley English
The full post continues after the jump . . .
Several weeks ago, when visiting the home of our friends Rich and Jen, I noticed a large, lovely, comfy-looking dog bed that their dog was resting on. It turns out Jen, a deft seamstress and general Jill of all trades, had whipped it up herself. I’d been looking for something similar for our two dogs, and when I mentioned that to Jen, she offered to make them for me. We met at a local fabric shop several weeks later, and with her guidance, I selected fabric and filling. The beds pictured here are the finished result. I love them. They’re durable, fluffy and large, and they work expertly within the overall aesthetic of our home. I’d recommend that, whatever fabric you select, you go for something a bit dark and perhaps with a pattern. Pets get dirty, and darker palettes and patterns will go a long way toward hiding dirt and fur.
DIY Dog Beds
- 1.5 yards of upholstery fabric per bed (regular cotton fabric isn’t wide or tough enough)
- 3–5 pounds of polyfill per bed (get more than you think you’ll need and overstuff it a bit)
1. Sew an inside-out rectangle, leaving one of the smaller sides un-sewn. The size of your particular rectangle will be determined by both the size of the dog and how much floor space you can spare for the bed.
2. Turn the rectangle right-side in, and fill with polyfill until the bed feels fluffy and a bit overstuffed.
3. Sew up the remaining side. You’re done!
Our German shepherd, Fly, can be quite stubborn. When she doesn’t want to do something, she goes completely limp. Considering she weighs about 80 pounds, this always puts the proverbial ball in her court. Fortunately for us, she’s also quite food motivated. So when she puts her mind to not heeding whatever it is I’m requesting, I turn to dog treats. The recipe here offers a gluten-free dog biscuit packed with nutrients. Loads of protein from the buckwheat (which is actually a berry and not in any way related to wheat) and salmon are tucked in with eggs, carotene-packed sweet potatoes and chlorophyll-rich parsley. Our dogs get a little treat, and I get them to go right where I want them. Win-win!
Buckwheat Salmon & Sweet Potato Dog Treats
- 3 cups buckwheat flour, plus extra for flouring the counter and rolling out
- 1 14-ounce can wild-caught salmon
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup mashed sweet potato
- 3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until fully combined.
2. Transfer the mixture to a lidded container. Refrigerate for one hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line several cookie sheets with either a silicone mat (such as a Silpat) or parchment paper. Set aside.
4. Transfer the mixture to a floured surface. Lightly press a bit of flour into the mixture and onto your hands to prevent sticking.
5. Using a rolling pin, roll the mixture until about 1/8-inch thick. You may need to turn the dough over several times and add flour to the counter to keep the dough from sticking. Be prepared for messy hands!
6. Cut out shapes in the dough using a cutter in whatever motif you prefer. I used circles and stars here. Dog bone cutters would be cute, as would seasonally themed shapes, such as pumpkins for Halloween or trees for the holiday season. This is a nice touch if you intend to gift the treats to another dog-loving friend.
7. Place on the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 30 minutes, until the dog treats are hard like a gingersnap. It’s imperative that the treats are completely dry before storage; otherwise, they could go bad.
8. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container. Use within several weeks.
Owing to their size, we take our dogs to a groomer just down the road from us for their monthly bath. We tried doing it at home, but their girth, coupled with the fact that we have a large soaking “garden” style tub made it really hard (on everyone!). In between visits, though, they can get a bit, well, funky. To combat that, I simply turn to my pantry. A mix of equal parts white vinegar and water placed in a spray bottle is my solution for freshening up dog beds, rugs and furniture. If you’d like a fragrance, several drops of lemon or cedar essential oil could be added.
Dog Deodorizing Spray
- spray bottle
- white vinegar
1. Fill the bottle halfway with vinegar.
2. Top off with water.
3. Spray on furniture, rugs and dog beds whenever you need to freshen an area.
Images and styling by Jen Altman