Crafting with Cat Hair

Pet Care Poll:
Most Owners Took Animals
to the Vet In Past Year
By SUE MANNING - Associated Press

Eight in 10 pet owners have taken their animals to the vet in the past year, with an overall average expenditure of $505, according to a new poll.

Sixty percent of those who took their pets to the vet spent $300 or less, but the average expenditure was boosted higher by the one in eight pet owners (13 percent) who spent $1,000 or more.

About one in six pet owners say their pet faced a serious illness during the year, and those pet owners spent an average of $1,092 on vet care. One percent say they took their pets to the vet and spent no money.

Thomas Klamm, 76, of Boone, Iowa, says he and his wife Beverly spent $3,000 on their two Chihuahuas, sisters Kati and Keli, and he would have spent more if necessary, even though his annual income is under $50,000.

The biggest bills resulted from a spinal condition Kati had, but Klamm says he has a lot of confidence in the vets and senior students at Iowa State University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital in nearby Ames, where the little dogs have been going since they were pups.

According to the poll, most pet owners have faith in the treatment vets recommend. Overall, 52 percent say vets do not often recommend excessive treatment, 26 percent say that happens moderately often, 17 percent extremely or very often.

Those whose pets had been seriously ill in the past year were no more likely than others to say that vets suggest treatments that go beyond what is reasonable and necessary.

Among those who did not take their pets to the vet last year, 52 percent say they only take their pets to the vet "when they're really sick" and a third say they can't afford it at all.

Luis Calderon, 56, of El Monte, Calif., couldn't afford to take Buddy, his 3-year-old German shepherd, to the vet last year. Buddy was given to Calderon when the dog was 6 months old. "We have become best friends," he says.

Calderon, a self-employed handyman, has a wife and two kids and says work is scarce. If Buddy needed a vet, Calderon says he would have to go through public services or use credit. "We would have to get him help."

How much would be too much? It would depend on what was wrong and what the vet said, Calderon says. "At that point I would have to consider whether to keep him or let him go, put him to sleep," he says.

He hates the idea of putting limits on Buddy's health. "But we have to survive. At this point, my mortgage is No. 1. This month is really close to the edge," Calderon adds.

Fifty-eight percent of those who did not take their pets to a vet in the past year said they "have a type of pet that doesn't need much veterinary care." Among them, 52 percent have dogs, 52 percent cats, 10 percent fish, and 5 percent birds.

Not surprisingly, higher-income pet owners (household incomes over $50,000) were more apt to take their pets to the vet than those with incomes below $50,000 – 90 percent versus 74 percent. Forty percent of those with household incomes below $50,000 who didn't take their pets to the vet say they can't really afford to do so.

Art Jones, 62, of Alameda, Calif., says two of his family's cats died in the last year. He estimates he spent $600 on vet bills – half of that to euthanize one of the cats. The other cat died at home.

"But we are not so wealthy we can spend thousands on a house pet. That's unfortunate, but that's the truth," Jones says.

He says he has family friends whose dog is getting cancer treatment and the cost is nearing $10,000. "To me, that's insane," Jones says.

Over the past few years, Jim Salsman, 51, of Las Vegas, paid for several $500 trips to the vet for his neighbors' cat, Mau, after the declawed feline got in fights with other animals. Last year, the neighbors left and gave the cat to Salsman. He ended up paying another $400 in vet bills, but says he didn't mind because his neighbors were in foreclosure and struggling, and the cat became an important member of the family.

"He means everything to us," Salsman said.

According to the poll, dog owners were a bit more likely to take their pets to the vet than cat owners – 85 percent of dog owners compared with 79 percent of cat owners. But dog owners spent a bit less – an average of $537 – than cat owners, who spent an average of $558.

The Poll was conducted Oct. 13-17, 2011, by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,118 pet owners. Results among pet owners have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

'Bionic Cat' Makes Recovery After 40ft Fall

A pet has been named "the bionic cat" after he was fitted with pins and supports following a fall from a fourth-storey window.

Sebastian's owners returned to their flat in Edgbaston, Birmingham, to discover him missing in August.

A day later they were contacted by the RSPCA who had found the tabby struggling to breathe on the pavement.

Fearing the worst they rushed him to their vets where he was given a 10% chance of survival.

But three months on, he has made a full recovery and his owners think he may even be jumping higher because of the metal supports in his legs.

Vet Mark Barton from Manor Vets in Halesowen and owner, Katrin Toots, described Sebastian's operation and recovery.

A pet has been named "the bionic cat" after he was fitted with pins and supports following a fall from a fourth storey window.

Sebastian's owners returned to their flat in Edgbaston, Birmingham, to discover him missing in August.

A day later they were contacted by the RSPCA who had found the tabby struggling to breath on the pavement.

Fearing the worst they rushed him to their vets where he was given a 10% chance of survival.

But three months on, he has made a full recovery and his owners think he may even be jumping higher because of the metal supports in his legs.

Save With Cheap Pet Toys
By Linda Rehkopf

Don't have money this holiday season for pet toys? Make your own interactive dog and cat toys and games.

Confession: I hang my dogs’ stocking on the chimney with care. The Labs will stare at it all during the holiday season, hoping for sweet treats and fun toys. Well, probably not, because I anthropomorphize my dogs. A lot. But I like to think they are hoping and wishing.

Many pet owners will feel the economic pinch this year, and may cut back on the all-out animal gifts. But there are cheap toys and sweet tricks you can provide your pets. If you cannot go to the pet store for that $50 stocking stuffed with catnip, or the peanut butter-filled dog bone, that’s okay. Your animals won’t care.

Here’s a fun, cheap, interactive toy for your dog that will give him a body and mind workout. The materials are inexpensive, if not already stuffed in the back of your bottom kitchen cabinet:

•Cookie tins from the dollar or thrift store

•Tin snips or can opener

•Duct tape

•Yummy, smelly treats

Cut several holes in the bottom of the cookie tins. Wrap the sharp ends of each hole with duct tape to prevent cuts.

Your dog should be on a sit-stay while you prepare the “toy.” This builds excitement and anticipation for the game. Put a few treats in one tin only, then securely put the top back on so that it won’t pop off if your dog pounces on the tin. Put the treat-filled tin on the floor next to a tin that is empty. Release your dog to “find” the tin with the treats.

Your dog might bat the tin around the floor, he might paw at it, or he might sit or lay down next to the scented tin. As soon as he’s successful at the “find,” open the tin and let him eat the treats inside.

You can make this game more difficult once the dog catches on. Add another empty tin to the mix, scatter the tins around the room, place them in a line or in a circle, or even hide the tin with the treats. Pair the command, “Fido, Go Find!” with the activity.

Put a personal article, like a glove, inside the tin with the treat. Fade the treats, and wait for the dog to find the tin that hides your scented item. Always praise your dog before you let him have his “presents.”

Stop the game before your dog gets bored during the session, and he’ll continue to look forward to using his nose.

This is a great mind game for older, more infirm dogs that cannot run after a tennis ball or take long walks or jogs. Even young puppies can be taught the “go find” game; this technique is a variation on training given to puppies being trained for bomb and narcotics detection or search and rescue jobs.

Cats love a good game just as much as the family dog; they are just more selective and refined in their approach to interaction or play (well, mine were. Your mileage may vary.)

The best, cheapest, most fun toy to give your cat is an empty paper bag or cardboard box. Put a little catnip in an after-holiday shirt box, and your cat might actually believe she is now the Queen of all things cardboard. In your house, she probably is.

This holiday season, the best gift for all your pets is time with their owner.

Whether you sit and watch your cat pop up out of a box, or lay on the floor and let your dog sniff for the treats in your pockets, quality time for the animals doesn’t have to cost money.

If you have a favorite cheap trick or inexpensive treat you’ve made for your pets, let us know!

Linda Rehkopf writes about dog care, training and animal welfare issues for East Cobb Patch on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. Her work appears in local and national newspapers, magazines, and websites and has been nominated for the Maxwell Award for Excellence in Canine Writing. She competes in canine sports with her Labrador retrievers, and her first book, "DogLife Labrador Retriever" (T.F.H. Publications) is available online and in local pet and book stores. She and her family have lived in East Cobb for 28 years.

No Mystery to Pet Training
By Denise Baran-Unland For The Herald-News

Bark Busters dog trainer John Sullivan poses with two of his "clients," Massy and Capone.

Shelve the doggie treats, discard your shock collars and forget about intimidation tactics.

Whether your dog yips at the neighbors, jumps on the counters, howls and make messes when you leave the house or fights with other dogs, Bark Buster dog trainer — and sometime cat trainer — John Sullivan can coach you to train your dog using body language and vocal tones.

“Communication is the foundation of any relationship, whether it is person to person or person to dog,” said Sullivan, of Naperville. “Once you know how to communicate with dogs in terms they understand and respect, you’ll get the behavior you want.”

Sullivan joined Bark Busters as a full-time trainer four years ago, although he has been working with dogs part time for more than 20 years. Sullivan owned dogs growing up and he volunteered in shelters. He started training to help dogs with issues become more adoptable. He later discovered the Australian-based Bark Busters and found its training philosophy was similar to his methods.

Bark Busters founder Sylvia Wilson wanted to provide dog owners with effective, humane methods to manage destructive and aggressive canine behaviors. Some dog owners, when faced with challenges they cannot control or eliminate, relinquish their dogs to animal shelters.

Worldwide, Bark Busters has trained more than 500,000 dogs.

Dogs need a pack leader

At the core of many training problems is that owners often fail to appreciate a dog’s need for a “pack leader.” In the home, that leader must always be the adult owners. Aggression in dogs, Sullivan said, is caused when dogs elevate themselves to uncomfortable leadership positions and take advantage of it.

“If the owner does not demonstrate credible leadership, then the dog assumes he takes over,” Sullivan said. “Dogs are excellent people trainers and masters at finding our soft spots and manipulating us to do things for them on their terms. The most common mistake owners make is giving their dog too much authority.”

How can you tell if your dog considers himself the leader of the pack? Does he get onto furniture he knows is off limits and—even worse — ignore your commands to get down? Does he bark nonstop? Does he persistently nudge you for attention? Does he socialize badly with other dogs?

All those problems, Sullivan said, are easily fixable once owners learn how to communicate their expectations. He teaches correction techniques, not intimidation, and there is a difference. Dog training often mystifies owners since the media offers so much conflicting dog training advice.

“Dogs are not complicated. Humans are complicated,” Sullivan said. “Dogs live in the moment, so you need to be simple and straightforward. Getting people to think that way can be hard, but once they do it, it’s like riding a bike. It works right away, every single time, with every age and every breed. Dog language is universal.”

At-home training

All training is done in the owner’s home. Most owners require one to three visits before training operates smoothly, as opposed to weeks or months with other training plans. Bark Busters also offers support for the entire life of the dog.

After the initial assessment, Sullivan ensures the dog has sufficient socialization opportunities with other dogs, even if that dog is the only dog in the house. One easy interaction opportunity is to allow your dog to “play” with the neighbor’s dog.

Socialization is so important that, if no other options exist, Sullivan will bring his rescue boxer Joe to help out. Joe can assist with puppies requiring socialization, dogs with bad manners or extremely aggressive dogs.

“Joe is a very confident dog. Nothing shakes him up,” Sullivan said. “My female Maggie is a great dog, but she a little nervous and bounces around a little, so her energy sets off the other dogs a bit. Joe is a strong leader so the other dogs feed off his energy.”

Sullivan services dogs in the following areas: Braceville, Braidwood, Channahon, Coal City, Crest Hill, Dwight, Elwood, Joliet, Kankakee, Lockport, Manhattan, Marseilles, Mazon, Minooka, Morris, Ottawa, Romeoville, Seneca, Shorewood, Verona and Wilmington.

Call him at 630-306-3005. For more information visit

$5,000 Grant Supports Meals on Wheels for Pets
By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff

WINSLOW, Maine — Carlene Shank already had a dog and a cat when her friend passed away recently and left her another dog to care for.

Making sure her friend’s dog was taken care of was an easy decision for Shank, even though she was unsure whether she would be able to afford the food. Then she noticed a flier at the Spectrum Generations Center in Waterville advertising something called AniMeals, a sort of Meals on Wheels for pets.

“It makes a big difference once you’re retired and on a fixed income,” said Shank. “I’ve got one dog who eats you out of house and home, so [AniMeals is] a big help.”

According to Lynda Johnson, who has run AniMeals out of the Spectrum Generations Cohen Center in Hallowell for the past 8 years, there are a total of about 90 pets being served in the Hallowell and Waterville areas. The food is distributed by an already existing network of Meals on Wheels drivers who deliver sustenance to some 400 senior citizens and others who are confined to their homes by circumstance.

Earlier this month, the AniMeals program received a major boost in the form of a $5,000 grant from the Banfield Charitable Trust, which through its Seasons of Suppers program has a long history of funding for pets and humans across the country. The trust has awarded more than $350,000 in grant money to support pet food programs. The recent grant in Maine was split evenly between the 8-year-old program in Hallowell and a similar program in the Waterville area that is just a few months old but already flooded with pets to feed.

“Our clients love the AniMeals program because it helps them with their budgets,” said Johnson. “All of this money from the Banfield Charitable Trust is going right to food, and maybe a container or two to keep it in.”

Users of the program receive about two pounds of dry dog or cat food per week, depending on the number of pets they have. The program has occasionally served other pets, such as birds, but that is rare, said Johnson. Just like Meals on Wheels, Johnson said she knows AniMeals is a resounding success because of the ease with which she collects donations. There is also no waiting list for either program, which is a point of pride for the program.

“We’re having good luck, which is a good thing because it does cost a lot of money,” said Johnson. Among the businesses who have supported the program are Pet Life, Pine Tree Veterinarians, Tractor Supply and the Riverview Psychiatric Center. Johnson said she buys pet food from a variety of local retailers, many of whom usually pitch in a little extra.

The rationale behind the program is making sure people who don’t have a lot don’t have to let go of their pets for lack of money.

“If you’re on Meals on Wheels, you’re already in a scary place anyway,” said Johnson. “Anyone who’s on that program qualifies for AniMeals. I don’t look at how much money they make.”

Johnson said the AniMeals program in the Hallowell area was among the first of its kind in Maine, though it has been spreading.

According to Shank, the pet food distributed by the program is of just as high quality as the people food distributed by Meals on Wheels.

“Whatever kind of food they’re buying, the animals love it,” she said. “We’re all happy here.”

To inquire about AniMeals or Meals on Wheels, or to make a donation to either program, call 800-639-1553.

Dog Businesses Find Success Even During Tough Times

Like many kids, when Jason and Steven Parker were teenagers, they wanted a dog. And like many parents, theirs said no. So they came up with the next best thing to spend some time with man's best friend -- they started their own pet-sitting business.

The brothers, now 24 and 27, kept it going through college and eventually sold it for six figures. After they graduated, they went on to start K9 Resorts Daycare & Luxury Hotel.

"If you love dogs and want to get into the dog business, now is the perfect time," Steven says.

You might say dogs are an entrepreneur's best friend too. Consider the size of the market. According to the American Pet Products Association, dogs are found in 46.3 million homes across America. (By contrast, cats are in 38 million, freshwater fish in 11 million, birds in 5 million and saltwater fish are last, in just 700,000 homes.) So it's no wonder so many small businesses and large corporations alike slobber over the $50.84 billion spent on pets every year.

For the Dogs

The modern-day dog business can trace its roots to the 1920s and 1930s, when movie star dog Rin Tin Tin was in his heyday. In 1918, just a couple months before World War I ended, an American soldier, Lee Duncan, found the famed puppy in Lorraine, France, in a dog kennel that had been bombed. The puppy survived, and Duncan named him Rin Tin Tin, taking the name of a puppet that French children gave American soldiers for good luck. Four years later, when a movie director was having trouble coaxing a performance out of his wolf in the movie "The Man From Hell's River," Duncan loaned out his dog, and a canine career was born. The dog starred in several silent films during the 1920s and four talkies during the '30s.

As a result, children across the country began asking their parents, "Can we get a dog?"

During the 1940s, when many fathers were called away to service, the demand for dogs as company and protection grew, and as more people owned dogs, the market for dog products began to thrive. (The 1940 book "Lassie Come Home" probably helped.) By the early 1950s, newspapers began reporting on a booming dog industry, with everything from rubber bones, dog clothes, and prefabricated doghouses to training schools and pet cemeteries. In 1958, Harry Miller, director of the Gaines Dog Research Center, offered a prescient quote to a UPI news reporter. "There's no recession in the dog industry," he said. "It's thriving, with 40 percent of the nation's homes having one or more dogs. We figure the total gross last year, including sale of puppies, food, shows, medical expenses and otherwise, was well over $500 million."

By the 1960s, pet-grooming facilities, often called dog salons, took off. Dog-rental businesses, which allowed people to rent watchdogs, not so much, although for a brief time it seemed as if it might be embraced by the mainstream. That said, as early as 1933, Chicago entrepreneur Michal Von Motseek owned "Rent a Dog for Any Purpose" Kennels, selling to people who wanted watchdogs and to advertisers who needed dogs to photograph. (The modern-day version, FlexPetz, was founded in 2007, which rents pets to busy families that share them with other families.)

Franchising in the pet industry also began to blossom in the '60s. In 1964, the first franchised pet store, Pet Docktor Center, opened. According to Katherine C. Grier's "Pets in America: A History," two successful brothers and owners of a pet store in Philadelphia decided to clone their success. For years, Docktor Pet Centers was the PetSmart of its day, prominent in shopping malls across America, until the then-widespread practice of relying on puppy mills brought on a lot of lawsuits. Today, there are just a handful of remaining Pet Docktor Centers in the country.

It all paved the way for today's booming dog industry. Now, if you want to, you can buy a specially made backpack to carry your dog. Martha Stewart has a line of dog beds, not to mention bandanas and a dog bathrobe. There are life jackets for dogs. Sunglasses too. If they make it for people, chances are they make it for dogs.

Dog Day Afternoon

In 2007, Jaime and Mark Van Wye, 34 and 43, respectively, decided that they, too, wanted to become part of the dog industry's illustrious history. They opened Zoom Room, a dog agility training center -- near the end of 2009, began franchising and currently have seven locations across the country with several more set to open. Jaime, before opening Zoom Room in Los Angeles, was already immersed in dog culture as a dog kennel owner as well as author of "How to Have an Ill-Behaved Dog."

When Jaime told her future husband she wanted to open a dog agility facility, Mark -- a marketing guy whose clients included the Nat King Cole estate -- was initially hesitant, but soon warmed up to the idea. "Jamie always had people asking her, 'Where I can train my dog in dog agility?' and her answer was always that they could go to this one place on Thursday mornings at 11 a.m., and there's a huge waiting list. Then we had the realization that it's the number-one dog sport in America, and ESPN was even carrying dog agility competitions. My thought was similar to the 1970s when yoga became popular in America. It was a novelty only practiced by yoga gurus, and now there isn't a gym in America that doesn't have yoga."

Jaime made a list of a lot of the pros and cons of working in the dog industry and, in the end, felt she had created a business model that stripped away a lot of the negatives.

Mark says that "kennels and doggie day cares can make money but are not a lot of fun to run. People used to come in and say to Jaime, 'You must love your job. You play with dogs all day.' And she would think, 'No, are you kidding?'"

Jaime cites some of the frustrations that kennels and doggie daycares have: Zoning issues due to dogs living on the premises; needing someone on staff virtually 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to watch over the animals; staffing issues: liability issues if the animal gets sick or dies; and the costs of caring for the animals.

"It's exhausting, and you don't play with dogs all day," Jaime says. "You may not even see dogs most of the day."

'Much Easier to Work with Than People'

That doesn't mean that dog business owners don't find themselves working and playing with cuddly canines. Christy Howard, 39, is the owner of two Three Dog Bakery establishments in the Dallas/Forth Worth market, part of a chain since 1989. She has 12 employees among the two stores, one of which is new and the other 3 years old. Between the two, her stores bring in more than $1 million in sales.

Howard runs the day-to-day operations but co-owns the mini-franchise empire with her husband, who handles the financials, including insurance (the annual insurance that Howard pays for her two stores, including workers comp, property and liability: $12,000).

Another cost to be prepared for: Cleaning. Your typical small business doesn't have too many customers who shed, but if you're on the service side of the dog industry, expect to be cleaning up dog fur. And maybe a few other, um, deposits.

On the plus side, while beleaguered entrepreneurs feel licked at times, it's one of the perks of the dog business. "Dogs are much easier to work with than people," Steven Parker of K9 Resorts quips.

But what's gratifying and helpful for the dog-serving entrepreneur is how devoted the masters are to their pets. Jason Parker says the economy has affected their bottom line somewhat, but not as much as you might think. "People are spending the same amount of money on their dogs," Jason says. "We have different types of rooms at our resort, and people are still opting for the luxury suites and if not that, the executive rooms, which are cage-free. They may cut their vacation a little shorter, but they aren't cutting back on their dogs."

Crafting with Cat Hair:
Not Just for Crazy Cat Ladies
By Angela Lutz -

When I was a kid, for Christmas I got one of those dolls whose hair sprouted from the crown of her head when you cranked her arm clockwise like a pencil sharpener. The first thing I wanted to do was give her a haircut, so once I got away from the prying eyes of Mom and Dad, I hacked off her blond ponytail with a pair of scissors. Then I rotated her arm a couple of turns, and, like magic, her hair re-grew.

Naturally I applied this same logic to my new kitten's fur and whiskers -- if I cut them off, they'd grow back immediately, right? Unfortunately that was not the case, and the poor fella spent several weeks barefaced and sporting several unsightly bald spots. (Don't worry, though: His hair and whiskers did eventually grow back, and he lived happily for 17 years. Also, my parents yelled at me.)

If only I'd read Crafting with Cat Hair: Cute Handicrafts to Make with Your Cat, Japanese author Katsori Tsutaya's step-by-step guide to turning your pets' fur balls into felt and thereby cementing your status as the crazy cat lady, I would have known that scissors are not an appropriate implement for harvesting cat hair: "When crafting with your cat, it is important to remove hair only by gentle brushing. Do not shave your cat."

This is good to know, because when the title says "handicrafts to make with your cat," it isn't just being cute. These crafts contain their DNA.

Coming up: I harvest my own cats' fur and construct some handicrafts... while drunk. On silliness!

Since the artistic medium here is cat hair, a large part of Crafting with Cat Hair details how to properly brush a kitty. Rule No. 1 is be gentle, and do not, under any circumstances, brush him or her backwards, "even if you usually forgive your cat for scratching you." There are also step-by-step instructions for turning cat hair into felt, as well as patterns for seven craft projects, including finger puppets, book covers, cat portraits, knick knack boxes, and scarf, mitten, and hat embroideries that can be used to start ice-breaking conversations, such as, "I save their hair in a Tupperware container."

Perhaps because she knows that telling people you make finger puppets out of cat hair is about on par with saying you're a Dungeons and Dragons wizard, Tsutaya points out that cat-hair felt is a lot like less-durable wool felt, a comparison that makes the whole idea seem less weird. "I'll admit that as I was making them I thought, Is it really okay to make something like this out of my cat's hair?" she writes. "But in the end the finished product looked so much like my own cat that I got a big laugh out of it!"

And it is exceedingly silly, yes -- or as Tsutaya calls it, "a quirky little hobby" -- but it is written with such sincerity and sweetness that in the land of overt mockeries like "People of Wal-Mart," it is actually refreshing.

The pages are filled with cat photos accompanied by speech bubbles that sound like they were written by your crystal-wielding, new-age aunt: "Did you know that when I'm lying in the sun, not only do I get warm, I also smell as fresh as an aired-out futon?!" There are also tips to ensure cat-hair crafts look their snazziest: "If you have a cat who is more than one color, you can make your puppet multicolored or spotted!" And in the last ten pages of the book, we get to meet the contributors, aka Tsutaya's beloved cats.

So here are the cats who contributed to my own handicrafts: Bubba Lee Kinsey, the legendary (at least at the local bar) gray tabby of doom, and Phoenix, the calico who is kind of a creepy sex offender.

Neither of them took kindly to being brushed -- Bubba sank his fangs into my wrist, and Phoenix made a Marge Simpson-esque grunting noise and hid under the bed, so I drank some wine, cranked up the Pogues, and chased them. It's almost as though they knew I was trying to harvest their fur. With persistence I was able to gather enough for a finger puppet and save it in a plastic bag on the kitchen counter, which made me feel like a giant creeper. (One of the bonuses of not having a roommate: No one questions you when you do things like this.) I also broke one of Tsutaya's rules, as my cats were decidedly not willing participants in these shenanigans.

Having collected the hair, I moved on to the next step: Cutting a pattern out of cardboard. I did not have any regular cardboard just lying around, so I broke another of Tsutaya's rules, which recommends not using any materials that might retain an odor. Here is Phoenix and the pattern I cut from the lid of an old pizza box I pulled out of the recycling.

After covering the pattern in packing tape to waterproof it, I wrapped it in layers of cat hair until it was fully covered. And I'm not gonna lie: I did not expect it to work, so I got a bit giddy when my crafty hair ball resembled the example in the book. Below, hard-ass supervisors Bubba and Phoenix inspect my work.

After rubbing the pattern with detergent, which causes the fibers to congeal into felt, and rinsing it with warm water, I drank some more wine and toweled it dry before breaking another rule: I do not own an iron (seriously, people still use those?), so around midnight I stood in the bathroom and blow-dried my cat hair finger puppet while singing along to Regina Spektor. Because if I'm going to do weird girly shit, I'm going for the weird, girly gold.

The end result was beautiful. I held it up to admire by candlelight while listening to a whiny folk song before I realized that cat hair is likely highly flammable.

Phoenix was largely indifferent to the great art I made using her hair, but Bubba was so impressed that he tried to eat it. After three glasses of wine, that's all the proof I need: I am awesome at crafts. And now I know what everyone is getting for Christmas this year. You're welcome.

"People will forget what you said;
People will forget what you did.
But people will never forget how you made them feel."

Lily is a Great Dane that has been blind since a bizarre medical condition required that she have both eyes removed.

For the last 5 years, Maddison, another Great Dane, has been her sight.
The two are, of course, inseparable.

No comments: