We Like: DIY Sweater Pet Bed

I made my own version of the pet bed made from an old sweater. It turned out great and the kitties love it.  Actually Crow tried to use it while I was working on it.  Saffron the dog thought it was for her—not sure if she thought it was a toy or a bed.  I mostly followed the tutorial I posted about before with a couple of minor changes.

First, here’s a thumbnail of the sweater I used.

It had a rolled collar, so I snipped the thread tacking it down.  I stitched the arms partway on as described in the tutorial.  Then, instead of hand sewing the bottom hem, I folded it over about an inch and stitched it on my sewing machine.  In the thumbnail below, you can see the seam is the white dashed line and the edge of the folded over sweater is the green dotted line.

I decided to make my bed more oval, so I folded the corners of the bottom hem up and stitched that with my sewing machine.  You can see the shape of the bottom hem in the first thumbnail.  The second is a close-up of the folded corner.  The white dashed line is the seam and the green dotted line is the edge of the sweater that’s folded up.

I followed the rest of the instructions in the tutorial through Step 3.  But, before I did Step 4, I traced the outline of the bottom of the bed onto an old mattress pad I had set aside for sewing projects.  I cut out two layers of the pad and carefully inserted it through the neck and into the bottom of the bed. I proceeded with Step 4 and then tacked the bottom of the bed together to secure all the layers.  I did about 5 stitches in the bottom of the bed—one in each “corner” and one in the middle.  This will require a large, sharp needle.  It was a pisser to get the needle and yarn through a layer of sweater, 2 layers of mattress pad, and another layer of sweater, but it’s doable.

I had washed and thoroughly dried an old pillow.  I cut open the pillow and used its stuffing to fill the arms.  After the arms were stuffed the way I wanted, I unrolled the neck & tucked it in on itself and stitched it closed with a slip stitch, also know as a ladder or invisible stitch.  Check out this good tutorial on the slip or ladder stitch if you don’t know how to do it.

Here’s the finished bed.  Because the sweater is a boucle knit my stitches pretty much disappeared, which is nice.  This is an easy project and the tutorial is good.  You can upcycle a sweater you don’t wear anymore or one from a thrift store and make a great bed for your cat or small dog.  Or make a nice present for someone else.

We Like: Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide

caninebodylanguage.jpgSaffron, our dog, and I had a great walk yesterday down by the Puget Sound.  She got lots of smiles and comments from people and it got me thinking about why.

So, I started paying closer attention to her body language and realized she was absolutely broadcasting joy.  Her ears were forward, her face was relaxed, her mouth was open, but relaxed, her eyes were soft and not glassy, and her tail was up and relaxed.  Clearly people could tell she was having fun.  But, it’s not always clear what our dogs are telling us with body language.

We’re two very different species—canine and simian.  Here’s a book that can help you bridge that divide.  Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide Interpreting the Native Language Of The Domestic Dog, by Brenda Aloff is an amazing resource. (DogWise published the book and is a great source for harder to come by books on dogs. They might not be the cheapest, but supporting them enables them to provide a thoughtful and thorough selection of excellent books and other items.)

I recommend Canine Body Language to anyone who shares their life with a dog. Unlike other books I’ve seen, this one uses tons great photographs to illustrate dogs’ body language. It does a very thorough job with 370 pages of photos and straight forward text to clarify dogs’ sometimes very subtle body language. It’s very readable and clear.

Even if you feel you’re well versed in canine body language, I think you’ll learn a lot from the book. And for the average person, Canine Body Language, will open a whole world of understanding of what your dog communicates on a daily basis. The book has made trips to the dog park fascinating and educational to see real time examples of canine communication. And it’s allowed me to be closer in tune with what Saffron is thinking and feeling. I have found it invaluable:

  • in avoiding altercations between dogs
  • in distinguishing play behavior from aggressive behavior
  • in understanding when Saffron is too stressed
  • in deciding whether dogs we encounter on walks are likely to be leash aggressive or, on the flip side, likely to be afraid of Saffron
  • in recognizing rude behavior from other dogs so I can let Saffron warn them in dog language

Examples of the great photos and clear descritptions:

We Like: The First Aid Companion For Dogs & Cats

I was a Girl Scout and I took their motto, “Be prepared”, to heart.  I am so prepared and you can be too.  The First Aid Companion For Dogs & Cats will help.  Our pets never seem to have health problems while our vet is open.  It’s always late on a Saturday night or on a holiday.  This book is so handy at those times for letting me know if we need to seek immediate care or if a visit to the vet can wait or is even necessary.

The book was written by Amy D. Shojai with input from over 80 veterinarians.  It has good illustrations instead of photos, which I like because photos of horrible wounds can keep some people from using a book.  The injuries and conditions are presented in alphabetical order, which makes it easy to find information even if you’re panicking.  There’s also an index if that works better for you.

One of the things that separates this book from others I’ve seen are the thoughtful sections at the beginning.  You should read this part of the book before an emergency happens.

  • The first section covers what you should have in your medicine cabinet & first aid kit and includes a thorough section on medications for humans that can and can’t be used with cats and dogs.
  • The second is a great section on how to assess the emergency by checking things like capillary refill time by pressing your finger on your pet’s gums and counting how long it takes to turn pink again.  There’s even a chart showing how many seconds is normal, how many seconds means you should call the vet, and how many seconds means it’s an emergency.
  • The third section teaches how to do basic things like restraining your pet, bandaging, and CPR–including an acupunture point that can aid in resuscitation by releasing adrenaline.
  • I like that the fourth section describes how to prevent problems in the first place.
  • The fifth section is a comprehensive list of symptoms and what page to turn to to get quick information on what to do.

All of that great information doesn’t even include the bulk of the book, which covers injuries and conditions.  Each section begins with when and if you should call your vet.  For instance, in the section on bloat, you are advised to call you vet immediately.  Next is a list of supplies you will need, including things like a blanket and karo syrup or honey to combat shock, liquid Mylanta, rectal thermometer, etc.  The section covers what steps to take immediately, what treatment a vet will likely give, follow-up care, ways to prevent the condition, and the “Best Approach” to deal with the problem in the first place or if it happens again.  All the information is presented clearly and in a way that’s easy to access.  We like this book!

We Like: The Furminator


It’s that time of year again when we seem to have more fur coming off our pets than staying on them, so I thought I’d run this post again on one of our absolute favorite grooming tools.

The Furminator is great! (Though the name is kind of goofy.) I used to use a shedding rake, but the Furminator gets out so much more fur, it’s amazing. This video gives you an idea of how well it works.

It doesn’t cut hair or damage the top coat in any way. It just really gets the shedding undercoat and hairs. You can see in this slow-motion video that it isn’t cutting the coat.

The “comb” is made of closely spaced, pointed teeth and because they are so closely spaced they don’t hurt the animal’s skin, but are able to get deep into the coat. It’s the v’s formed by the teeth that catch the loose fur. You can see them by clicking on the thumbnail.


Saffron loves it. I don’t use it on her undercarriage where there is much less fur and her skin is visible. And I hold her skin taut where it’s looser, like around her neck. As with any grooming tool, I’m careful around her hips and spine. Sage loves the Furminator too, which means fewer hairballs. It’s hard to believe how much fur it gets out of their coats, which means a lot less fur around the house and filling up vacuum cleaner bags. Raven’s coat lays very close to her skin and she doesn’t like to be groomed with anything. According to The Furminator FAQ, there are some breeds of dogs they don’t recommend using it on:

American Water Spaniel
Bedlington Terrier
Bichon Frise
Chinese Crested
English Setter–depends on the coat
Flat-Coated Retriever
Glen of Imaal Terrier
Irish Water Spaniel
Japanese Chin
Lhasa Apso–depends on coat
Pekingese–depends on coat
Portuguese Water Dog
Shih Tzu–depends on coat
Silky Terrier
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Tibetan Spaniel–depends on coat

The Furminator comes in different sizes—I got the Medium. Starting with the Medium and on up, you can get replacement combs—screws hold them in place. It’s hard to imagine needing one though. They come with a guard to protect the comb when not in use. Ours came with samples of Furminator shampoos and conditioners.  They didn’t seem remarkably different from other good shampoos and conditioners (Note: I am not connected to the Furminator company.)

We Like: Brain Twisters Flower Toy

The Brain Twister is a nifty toy from Canine Genius:

  • it’s got a squeaker in each flower
  • it makes a great fetch toy
  • the spiral shape makes it much more interesting—Saffron likes inspecting the whole “stem” and shaking it so it flaps around
  • the inner seam is very well reinforced, so it also makes a great tug-of-war toy, it stretches to 46 in.
  • it also comes in neoprene for a water toy (Note: it appears it’s no longer available in neoprene.)
  • it can be wrapped around your dog’s torso for a game of “how do I get this thing off me”—Saffron loves this game as you can see below

Check out this post on the Plush Leo with Stuffies, also by Canine Genius.