Friday, August 30, 2013

DIY: Canine Silhouette Art

In addition to the floor pillows we covered Wednesday for the pooches, we've been working on a piece of DIY art for the bedroom makeover.

I've seen canine silhouettes throughout Pinterest and Etsy, and I knew I could find a way to DIY it.  After finding this tutorial, I jumped in.  The tutorial gives directions for a white silhouette, but we wanted a dark colored silhouette and a light background color, which really made things much more difficult (of course!).

You will need:
-- Art Canvas (we used 18" x 24" at the lowest grade -- we love the texture!)
-- Full Sheet Label Paper
-- Large Piece of Heavy Card Stock (we used the contact paper as instructed in the original tutorial because we had it on hand)
-- Scissors
-- Silhouette photo of your pooch
-- Craft and/or spray paint in 1 or 2 colors

To make a two-toned* silhouette (with the background lighter than the silhouette):

Step 1: Spray the entire canvas the background color.  We used Valspar in Star Bright.  Allow to completely dry for 24 hours before moving on to the next step.

Step 2: We had a friend with photo-editing skills remove the background of our photos, simply to save our printer.  If you don't have access, no worries -- you can cut around your dog's profile after it's printed instead.  Then upload your photos into a photo-editing software (we used the free Picasa software!).  We cropped the photo down to as close to the pooches' outlines as possible.  If using Picasa,  click on the "Create" tab, then "Make a Poster".  In the pop-up box, make your "Poster Size" 200% and your "Paper Size" 8.5 x 11 (for 18x24 canvas size).  Do not click "Overlap Tiles."  Print the profile onto 4 separate sheets of the Full Sheet Adhesive Label pages.

Step 3: Cut off any white edging around your photo.  Remove the backing from the labels, line up each quadrant, and lay out onto your card stock paper.

Step 3: Cut your pooch's silhouette.

Step 4: Because we wanted a colored silhouette (darker than our background color), we lightly traced our cut-out onto the canvas.  We then painted in the outline.  We used craft paint (FolkArt Multi-Surface Acrylic Paint in Medium Grey) for this step.

Step 8: After allowing to fully dry overnight, hang those babies up!

There's also the option to spray the dark color, then lay down the silhouette and spray primer and the lighter color.  This would probably give you a crisper edge than we got using brushes (and be way quicker).

*If you are using white as your silhouette color, you can use the original tutorial I found, here.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

DIY: No-Sew Dog Pillow Covers

Like many of you, we try to use "people stuff" for the pooches because, not only it is it cheaper, but it usually "goes" with the decor better.

A few months ago we bought two Euro-sized pillows and cotton covers from Bed Bath and Beyond (thank you, 20%-off coupon!).  The cover gave the pillow some protection, but it really wasn't doing much by way of going with the room.  Around the same time I found this amazing tutorial from Yellow Brick Home.  Kim gives an amazing step-by-step that you really can't mess up.

Because we were making two covers, we bought 4 yards of duck canvas.  Honestly, the fabric was pretty pricey, but I was more concerned about looks than cost (and it was still way cheaper than 2 large dog beds!).

We then gathered our supplies:
-- Fabric
-- Ironing Board & Iron
-- Damp Wash Rag
-- Scissors
-- Stitch Witchery
-- Measuring Tape

Step 1: Cut the fabric to size.  This was the longest (and most painful step) of the whole process.  Because I had 4 yards, the fabric became hard to manage.  If I was to do this again, I would prep my measurements before hand and have it cut at the store.

Using Kim's formulas, I calculated the fabric measurements.  Our Euro pillows measured 26" x 26" so the fabric size became 26+2(hem on each side)+1(pillow form) x 26+26(fold over)+1(pillow form)+2(enclosure overlap)+2(hem on each side).  If you're following along at home, that made my fabric 29" x 57".

Step 2: Cutting the Stitch Witchery to size, I "hemmed" the edges of the enclosure.  This corresponded the the short ends of the fabric.  I also took Kim's advice and pre-ironed the lip for a crisp edge.

Follow the directions for your bonding web.  Mine called for placing a damp washcloth between the iron and the fabric.  Hold the iron in place for anywhere between 10 and 30 seconds (I found closer to 30 works better!). Repeat on the other edge.

Step 3: Create your pillow shape inside out, overlapping the ends about 2 inches.  Then, bond the final edges of the case.

Step 4: Once the bond lines have completely cooled, carefully turn the case inside-right and insert your pillow (or any stuffing material, really).

Seriously though, please check out Kim's tutorial if you're interested in making this.  It's amazing and much clearer than this one.

Because we used a Euro pillow insert, we didn't use any type of closure and it works great.  Although I'd love to take it a step further and sew a pillow -- with a zipper!  We're also looking at making two pillows with outdoor fabric for nice comfy lounging spots on the patio.

What human products do you in place of dog stuff?  Have you DIY'd anything?

Monday, August 26, 2013

PEDs: Trying New Things

One of the reasons we started the group was to give our members (and us!) a space to work on Edison's our pooches' issues in a safe and supportive environment.  We are so happy to report that our members feel the same!  We got a heart-swelling Facebook post from one of our members who has historically walked her dog on a prong collar:

"I have racked up three days of flat-leash walking practice with Gemma...early mornings are a breeze (no distractions).  I need to work on my bravery when the whole neighborhood is out & about.

Thanks to our new friends/support team with Pack of Erie Dogs for giving me the push (and encouragement) I needed to take this next step!"

Do you have a support team in your community?  What has it helped you accomplish?

Friday, August 23, 2013


Anyone who has adopted a shelter dog knows that a bath is an immediate necessity and a good symbol of a fresh start.  I learned quickly Tess does not do baths.

She rarely ever needs a bath, though -- she has very low odor and doesn't play hard enough to get dirty.  Sure, we've tried to give her baths.  She has a patented move -- "the alligator death roll" -- where she twirls her body making it impossible to hold on to her.  It's amazing what 40 pounds of solid muscle can do.  We've found that she is barely more manageable getting a bath in the yard.

Edison doesn't necessarily love baths, but he definitely needs them!  We find that after a few weeks, he gets a very noticeable musk (dang boys!).  With the promise of a treat, he'll jump in the tub (we love using the professional tubs at Mud Puppies) and stand still while we brush, wash, rinse, and even dry (with the blow-drier!).  We make sure to keep bath time as fun (and quick) as possible and give lots of treat to the good boy.

The stress that baths place on Tess (and us!) is really not worth the hassle.  So we've invested in wipes (we like Sensitive Skin Wet Ones) that help keep the need for a bath to a minimum.  And in the rare cases she does need a bath, we found waterless shampoo (yes, it's Paul Mitchell -- don't judge).

Do your pooches do baths?  If not, how do you keep them clean?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Guilt Trip

Since Tess isn't great at being left alone, it makes it very hard to travel...with or without her.

Any trips that we take with her require near constant supervision by either myself or Sam (or else we're looking at a new crate, poop cleanup, or worse - damage to crown molding, doors, etc).

Trips that we take without her require require three walks a day by a local dog walker (one we like is Sophie's Sit and Stroll).

Ed, on the other paw hand, is pretty easy going.  Give him some sun, some playtime, and a comfy blanket when it's crate time and you won't hear a peep - until someone walks past that he thinks he can get a good scare out of ("I'm not doing anything"...wait for it.......... "WOOF"!!)

Since Tess does best in familiar settings (i.e. home), it's generally best to leave the pooches under the supervision of our dog walker.  Even so, I feel slightly guilty taking long-weekend trips without them.

Do you take or leave your pooches when you go on trips?  What do you do if you leave them?

Monday, August 19, 2013

PEDs: A Family Affair

While many of our members come as a human and pooch combo, we love that we have some families that join us on our walks, too!

We know how busy life can be, and sometimes it's hard to find time to do things together.  Our Sunday walks have not only a time for bonding with our pooches, but also with our families.

So often we look at things like walking the dog as a chore, but really they are an opportunity to spend time together.

What do you do to spend quality time with your family?

Friday, August 16, 2013

DIY Agility Equipment Part II: Ladders, Dog Walk, and Slam Board

We also made three other pieces of equipment for our agility course to go along with the teeter* from Wednesday.  These are much simpler to make and still just as fun.  The hardest part of making these obstacles was getting it all home!


What you'll need:
-- 2" PVC pipe - we used (2) 10' pieces
-- Hacksaw

Step 1: Supporting the PVC pipe (we used a vise to hold it steady), cut into 3-foot pieces with the hacksaw.

To use: This obstacle is really just about growing your pooch's awareness of where their feet are.  Start by laying the pieces out evenly spaced.  Once he can consistently walk over them without hitting them, mix up the spacing.  To make it more challenging, overlap the pipes to add depth.

Dog Walk

What you'll need:
-- (1) 8' 2x10 pressure-treated plank
-- (2) 10" 4x4 pressure-treated post

Step 1: Place a 4x4 under each end.

To use: With a timid pup (one like Tess), start with the board lying directly on the ground.  Once they are comfortable walking across it, raise it up.  If 4" is too high, try elevating with phone books.

Slam Board

What you'll need:
-- (1) 24"Pre-cut wood table top, like this
-- (1) XX" pipe cap
-- Gorilla Glue

Step 1: Following glue directions, glue the pipe cap to the center of the table top (ours called to wet the surfaces first).  Allow the glue to dry as directed prior to use.

To use: While it isn't an actual obstacle, the slam board works on your pooch's balance and core strength, while also getting them used to the motion and sound of the board slamming the ground.

What have you DIY'd for your pooch?

*While we used bolts to make the teeter from earlier this week, you can just as easily glue the PVC pipe to the board (that Gorilla Glue is amazing), but we wanted to be able to switch the pipe out for a larger diameter as Ed progresses)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

DIY Agility Equipment Part I: Teeter

You might remember way back here when we took our agility class, our trainer told us how to make the equipment for ourselves.  Well, we've been planning on doing it all summer, but just finally got around to it!

The first piece of equipment we made is the Teeter or Seesaw.  We tried to make everything as close to the AKC standard as possible, which can be found here.

What you'll need:
- (1) 10' 2x10 pressure treated plank
- (1) 10" to 12" section of 4' diameter (minimum) PVC pipe (a junction works great!)
- (2) 1/2" galvanized bolts, 2.5" long with nuts

Step 1: Enlist the help of a handy friend to drill while you take photos.

Step 2: Measure approximately halfway down the 2x10 and mark a line across the width of the plank.  The teeter is to have a "raised end,"so this line should not be directly centered

Step 2: Measure and mark two (2) points along the line 3" from either side of the plank.

Step 3: Drill two (2) pilot holes at the marked locations with a 3/8"bit (make sure that you elevate the board when drilling the pilot holes).

Step 4: Bore the pilot holes out with a 1/2" spade bit

Step 5: Countersink the pilot holes with a 1" spade bit (these are meant to recess the bolt heads just deep enough that the bolt heads are flush or below the surface of the plank -- see photo below on what this is supposed to look like).

Step 6: Center the PVC pipe/junction and mark the locations through the holes in the plank and onto the PVC with a mark/pen/pencil

Step 7: Supporting the PVC pipe/junction, drill 3/8" pilot holes into the PVC pipe/junction at the marked locations, and follow up by boring the holes with a 1/2" spade bit.

Step 8: Bolt it together and enjoy!!

Check back on Friday for three more pieces of equipment!

Thanks again to our friend, Jeff, for helping us get this all put together and documented!

Monday, August 12, 2013

PEDs: Building a Community

One of the things we love about our walks is that it allows us to form relationships with other like-minded dog owners in our community.

This week, one of our members was talking about an outing she and her dog had with another member.  They go on weekly walks outside of the Sunday pack walks.

We love that members are forming friendships and socializing throughout the week!  We think it is great that dogs from the group get together and play, especially the social butterflies who can and need to physically interact with other pooches.  And we know that they have had nice introductions!

One thing that we would also love to instate is an idea we got from the Positive Pittie Pack: regular meetings with humans to chat and really get to know one another (or more realistically, more about each others' dogs!).

Do you have a dog community in your city?

Friday, August 9, 2013

My Buddy: An Executive Summary of a Long Fought Battle

I have been so very lucky to have found someone who supports my pooch habit.  And while he was tentative about the pitbull I shared my home with when we started dating, he has embraced her as his own and everything that comes with it.  Today's post is written by Sam:

I'd like to preface this article with the fact that I am not a photographer. I apologize in advance for the lack of illustration.  Hannah has added in some photos that you may or may not have seen already.

I've always been a fan of dogs. Stinky paws, excited tails - friendship and joy wrapped up in fur and topped off with wet noses.

By the time I started dating Hannah, it had been a while since I last experienced the kind of relationship that she and Tessy-girl had. Needless to say: it was only a matter of time before I was convinced that our family of three needed a fourth.

The search started and ended promptly when we laid eyes on Manny (now Edison). He had a face that expressed a deep character that I had never seen in a dog before - an almost human look to it. Not to mention he was a dead match to the resident brindle beauty.

After a deep discussion about the potential adoption, Hannah and I decided that we would take the plunge and give Ed a happy and healthy home.

First day - Ed was a bit jumpy but a saint compared to what was to come.

I'm ashamed to admit it but by day three I was wondering if we had made a terrible mistake.  A 50 lb puppy (at least 45 lb of that being jaws) nipping at your ankles at every opportunity is not cute.

He challenged the hierarchy every step of the way, ate the back of my Subaru, and tortured our Tesla.

I felt horrible. Hannah and I knew that there had to be a way to make this work; we promised each other that we wouldn't give up - Ed wasn't going to see another shelter again.

Days turned to weeks, weeks to months, months to years (well just short of two now).  Thanks to the help of Erie's dog community (special thanks to Kim at Mud Puppies, Eileen at Canine Connections, and Collin at Peninsula Pups) and the strength that Hannah's dedication inspired, I can now say that Ed is fulfilling the role that I had envisioned for him: a strong, cuddly, slobbery friend that I couldn't imagine living without. My buddy, Edison.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Edi & Tess's Favorite Things: Crates

We are craters.
We crate the dogs any time we are not home.
We crate Edison any time we can't keep a direct eye on him.

Any pooches that come to stay with us are crate trained, too.  When we brought Edi home, he willingly went into his crate (no training required) and spent the first several weeks mostly hanging out in there and learning our routine.  Our former foster, Toby, went through this same route (albeit a lot less willingly).

Crate training isn't always easy.  While many people say that crates can become a safe haven, especially in new surroundings, Tess still isn't completely comfortable in her crate.  She starts whining as soon as we get home (even though we wait 5 or 10 minutes to let her out every time) - and don't get me started on crating her in a new environment!

Crates aren't for all dogs, either.  Toby was much happier out of his crate.  He just barely tolerated the crate and only because Tess's was right beside him.  But because we had no idea how he would react to being alone in house, we just weren't willing to leave him out.

Crating the pooches almost guarantees we never come home to something destroyed (which most certainly would happen if Edi was left alone) or a puddle of pee (Tesla).  They are a great place for the pooches to take a nap when we're not home or when we just need a break.  And they don't seem to mind them too terribly either...

Do you crate your pooches?

Monday, August 5, 2013

PEDs: Emma's Pleasant Surprise

We've written about the socialization benefits of pack walks for both reactive and non-reactive dogs.

Our member Emma has seen a little different benefit.  Emma, as rescue pooch, has been timid meeting new people, and especially terrified of men -- to the point of crouching and growling in fear.

This week, Emma's person told us that she ran right up to greet two intimidating policemen outside their house.  Her person was shocked -- they don't have much opportunity to meet new people on walks.

They concluded it must be the presence of the humans at our weekly walks!  Although we don't actively work on human greetings, the simple act of being around such a large group of people is socialization in itself.

Way to go Emma!

Do you have a fearful dog? How do you work on overcoming her fears?