Saturday, December 18, 2010

Don't forget the furry babies at Christmas!

I know that Christmas is next week.  I know that most of us are all tapped out from buying presents.  I also know that I don't want to forget to do something "special" for my boy at this time of year.  I found the perfect tutorial for making a cozy and comfy doggie bed in an afternoon and I want to share it with you here.  The original is posted on and I suggest you check it out for other wonderful ideas.

Here is the doggie bed tutorial.  I'm off to the thrift stores to find sweaters!

How To: Make a Patchwork Pet Bed

We've got a new puppy named Dizzy calling our apartment home, and were in need of a snuggly, pet-specific place for her to hang out and snooze. We're also on a budget (and obedience school wasn't cheap), so we didn't want to spend a lot of money. So we hit the thrift stores for some wool sweaters, dug an old pillow out of the linen closet, and stitched together a colorful patchwork bed for her. If you've got basic sewings skills and an afternoon to spare, you too can make your four-legged friend the happiest dog or cat on the block.

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• an assortment of old sweaters (at least 50% animal fiber such as wool, alpaca, cashmere, etc.)
• an old pillow
• scrap paper and tape
• ruler
• scissors and/or rotary cutter
• pins
• access to a washer, dryer, and sewing machine
Note: Seam allowance is 1/4".
1. Start off by "felting" (or "fulling") the wool sweaters. Everyone has done this at least once, often by accident! Simply place a few sweaters in a hot washing machine with a bit of soap. Agitation plus water plus animal fibers equals felt! Throw the sweaters in the dryer afterwards to help shrink the fibers even more, and you will be left with a sturdy, fray-free material to craft with. Try to group like colors with like so there are no color-bleeding issues. It's also helpful to cut the sweater up before washing and drying (separate the arms from the body, and cut apart the front and back).

2. Create a pattern template by taping together scrap paper to approximate the size of your pillow. It doesn't have to be exact, just as close as you can manage.

3. Use a ruler and rotary cutter (or scissors) to cut strips and squares of sweater fabric. You're basically trying to create an assortment of pieces to choose from that all have straight edges. You can cut a bunch of pieces out and then skip to Step 4, or you can work steps 3 and 4 in tandem and cut out pieces to fit the size of your as you go.

4. Lay the paper pattern template down and start covering it in sweater pieces until you get them arranged just the way you like them. We wanted a patchwork effect, so we varied the size of the sweater pieces used—but you can make this in any style you like. Use larger, monochromatic sweater pieces or go for the hyper-patterned look, it's up to you. The pieces we used at each end were long, single strips, while the center area was created by joining together smaller squares. Any arrangement you come up with will work as long as the "puzzle pieces" fit within the paper template and you've got straight edges to sew together.

5. Once you've found an arrangement you like, it's time to start sewing. You'll want to pin the sweater pieces with right sides together, then sew along the pinned edge. Sew the pieces together section by section until it's done. If your sweaters are wrinkly or could benefit from loosening up a bit fiber-wise, feel free to iron your seams as you go with an iron set on the wool setting.

6. When you've finished sewing together the top of the bed, you will probably notice a bit of wonkiness—things likely won't be perfectly straight anymore. Using a ruler and rotary cutter to square up any uneven edges can be really helpful. Felted sweaters are very forgiving though, so don't worry about it looking perfect.

7. Set aside the top of the bed and get to work on the bottom piece. You'll use the same paper pattern template, but since the bottom edge won't really show you can be less fanciful here. We used just four pieces of sweater fabric to create two panels for the bottom of the bed: two skinny strips at each edge, sewn to two larger pieces (one pink and one blue). Overlapping these panels in the middle will give the pet bed an "envelope" style opening once it's all sewn together, allowing you to slip the cover on and off for easy cleaning. We made our bottom panels large enough to overlap by 5".  We used the fronts of two sweaters for back panels and recommend you do the same. Since the edges of these sweater segments already have ribbing on them, there's no need to finish those edges.

8. Place the top of the bed right-side up on your work table, then place the two bottom panels right-side down, with center edges overlapping. Pin through all the fabric layers, about 1" in from the edge all the way around.

9. Sew around the entire rectangle, backstitching in areas like the corners for extra strength. Once you've all the edges of the bed closed, turn it inside-out from the envelope-style bottom opening and insert the pillow. Now present it to your dog or cat and hope they love it like ours did!

Jenny Ryan is the recent author of Sew Darn Cute: 30 Sweet & Simple Projects to Sew & Embellish and also and is also co-owner of the Home Ec. Department at Reform School.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Therapy dog brings patients joy

Here's another wonderful article about the benefit of therapy dogs on patients.  Please read and enjoy!  The original can be found at Thousand Oaks Acorn.

2010-12-02 / Health & Wellness
By Stephanie Bertholdo
PUPPY LOVE—Freda Marsh, a patient at Westlake Health Care Center, enjoys a visit from Sophie, a 1-year-old yellow Lab who is being trained as a therapy dog. SANDY PEDEFLOUS/Special to the Acorn PUPPY LOVE—Freda Marsh, a patient at Westlake Health Care Center, enjoys a visit from Sophie, a 1-year-old yellow Lab who is being trained as a therapy dog. SANDY PEDEFLOUS/Special to the Acorn Sophie is a pooch with a mission, as is her owner, Sandy Pedeflous.
Sophie is a yellow Labrador retriever on the small side for her pedigree whose training as a therapy dog has made her a giant with bedridden patients, senior citizens and just about anybody who needs a little companionship and compassion.
Pedeflous said she purchased the puppy for two reasons. At the age of 15, her beloved border collie/ German shepherd mix Phoenix was slowing down. Pedeflous thought a spunky pup eager to learn might have the ability to invigorate her older dog.
She also wanted to train a therapy dog. Since Labradors are highly trainable, Sophie was a perfect candidate for the job.
Pedeflous saw firsthand the power dogs have to heal and bring happiness to patients when her sister, Robin Rodgers, was hospitalized with encephalitis and meningitis.
“I got to know patients and saw not only how they responded to (therapy dogs) but how entire families responded,” Pedeflous said.
Pedeflous got Sophie at the beginning of the year and started training her to be a therapy dog when she was 10 weeks old.
The first lesson for therapy dogs is to learn how to listen to their owners. Sophie learned the command “leave it,” which means that even if a treat is right in front of her nose, she cannot take the food. When Pedeflous tells Sophie, “Okay, take it,” the dog is rewarded with the treat.
At a year old, Sophie has a repertoire of skills and tricks that please patients young and old. When Pedeflous commands her dog to place her paws up, Sophie puts her front paws on the walker or wheelchair of a patient who is ready to pet the dog and receive a little love. The dog has been taught not to touch the body of an elderly person because their thin skin is prone to bruising or cuts.
Pedeflous learned how to train Sophie through Love On a Leash trainer Linda Voller. Love on a Leash is a nonprofit organization established in 1984 in San Diego.
Pedeflous is also training Sophie to work with children with disabilities. The dog has been poked in the eyes, had her ears pulled and her belly prodded in order to help her learn not to react negatively to a child.
“We pulled her around the house by her tail,” Pedeflous said.
The most important aspect of training is to expose therapy dogs to every conceivable experience so they do not bark or react, she said.
Pedeflous said that the first time she brought Sophie to a healthcare center in Westlake Village the dog showed fear at the sight of a wheelchair and barked at person using a walker. She was also afraid of the elevator.
“After that she was okay,” Pedeflous said. “She just needed exposure from the beginning.”
Freda Marsh, a patient at Westlake Health Care Center, said, “Sophie brightens my day and makes me smile.”
Sam Sacks of Oak Park said therapy dogs were helpful to him when he was fighting cancer.
“When I was in the (intensive care unit) for cancer and the dogs came in, it was just so uplifting,” Sacks said. “They made me smile and laugh and temporarily forget my problems.”
Pedeflous routinely brings Sophie to the home of her neighbor Jack Hague, who is dealing with several health issues.
“I love it when (Sophie) comes,” Hague said. “She kisses me and really connects with me. She makes me feel so good.”
Pedeflous said that Sophie elicited belly laughs from a 35-yearold woman with permanent brain damage.
“She was like a 4-year-old walking into a candy store,” Pedeflous said of the woman’s delight at seeing Sophie.
Sophie is learning how to entertain people. She knows how to roll over, perform the army crawl and accept a treat without touching a person’s hand.
Pedeflous is teaching Sophie how to salute with a paw and fall down at the sound of “bang, bang.” Pedeflous said the new tricks are expected to be a crowd pleaser at the Veterans Hospital.
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Here is a great way to teach children about empathy for our animal friends!

Make Your Gift

Every pet we save at Bideawee deserves these basics. So does Bettie.

This poor sweet girl clearly has had a difficult life. Left to die on the cold streets of New York, Bettie was found starving, dehydrated and so horribly injured that her right back leg needed to be amputated. As if these terrible conditions weren't enough, her left hip was dislocated and she had terrible skin lesions where some of her skin was actually peeling off.

But Bettie now has reason to hope. She has the hope to be healed by the excellent care of Bideawee's veterinarians that have been charged with her care.

She has hope for a family, a forever home and hope for never feeling the excruciating pangs of hunger and loneliness that she felt just a short time ago.

Bettie's Holiday Wish List will be filled thanks to caring people like you.

Please make your Year-End Gift TODAY to help Bideawee continue our lifesaving mission for all of those sweet innocent pets like Bettie whose holiday wish list includes the basics that every pet deserves.

To ensure that you receive a 2010 tax credit be sure that your envelope is postmarked by December 31, 2010.
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Bideawee is funded 100% by private contributions. To help us continue our vital work to help animals, please donate today.