Donated Creation Machine

I’m very excited that someone donated a sewing machine to me. I’ve been brainstorming on how I can use it to help my new fosters. These animals deserve love and attention while they are waiting for a furever home. I hope to go over some of the easy projects that I plan to do in this blog.

Sewing for beginners is not as bad as I thought it would be, thanks Of course, sewing is a skill that takes time to master. I’m not going to pretend that my creations will be spectacular at first. I used to do some sewing in school, but they don’t have too many Home Economics classes anymore.

I think that my pets would enjoy a little warmer when they are cold. It will be a blanket that goes on and I can tighten with a velcro strap. I know pets can get cold too. I don’t think would attempt a sweater though with leg holes. It seems like a bit of a complicated project. Also, my animals come and go as they find placements. I need something that I can reuse as I can’t afford to be spending time to sew a new blanket with each pet. Sewing is a lot of fun but it’s just a hobby.

I can also see making some bedding for the dogs. I know this is a complicated endeavour, but I hope I can become good at it. I know that beds can be costly. If I can make a bed on my own, I could save a bit of money. I could also just make a blanket that I could stuff. This sort of pillow blanket would make a soft bed. Pillows cases are actually relatively easy to sew. I would want to make a larger version of one for the pet. Then I would just have to buy the stuffing. I could always replace the stuffing and wash the case if I have to get a new animal and give one up for adoption.

My mind is starting to buzz with the possibilities. There’s really a lot that can be done with a sewing machine in terms of dog materials. Another idea I had was to make plush balls for the animals. These would be something that they can have as a fun toy. They might get a little destroyed, but I think I could wash them. I might even let the dogs take them to their new homes because it seems kind of unsanitary to reuse the balls on other dogs.

These are just a few of the ideas that have popped into my mind. I can’t wait to start looking for patterns and possibly even learning how to modify them. I’m sure it will be a learning curve, but I am up for the task. Let me know if you think of any ideas that I can incorporate into my practice. I would love to know.

How to Rehabilitate an Abused Dog

Hi all! I hope you have missed my posts as much as I have missed writing them! A lot has happened in the meantime. I got a haircut, so I don’t have to waste so much time on my long hair anymore. I picked up some Portuguese. I bought a new phone. I even decided to invest in a tankless water heater to free some space in my flat (a great tip from my bestie was to find the right model by going through reviews on tankless water heaters, as apparently there is a wide variety and you need to be extra careful).

Anyway, in this post, I will share a few tips that could help you rehabilitate an abused dog. In the past, we have touched upon the basics of rehabilitating abused animals in general. Let’s have a look now what rehabilitation entails on a more practical level for a dog that has suffered mistreatment.

The most important thing to remember is that you are trying to gain the dog’s trust. To do this, consider the following tips:

  • Be extremely alert: in the first days, it is important to monitor his behavior closely. Is there anything in particular that serves as a trigger? Maybe a specific sound, or even a leash? Try to make note of whatever it is that he finds particularly scary or particularly pleasant.
  • Make sure you don’t appear threatening: when you approach him, you could bend down so that you look smaller, or when you talk to him, speak in a gentle tone. Fast movements should also be avoided because he might find them intimidating.
  • Be gentle: when the dog finally feels he trusts you enough to approach you, you can keep your palm up as he comes close. You can gently pet him on spots that dogs find calming, such as his chest or his chin.
  • Try hand-feeding him: in order to gain his trust, you should consider hand-feeding the dog. If you feed him from your hands, it will facilitate the bonding process. But in case he doesn’t feel like eating from your hand initially, don’t push him. Place the food in the bowl instead and step away. 
  • Consider your own safety: dogs that are very afraid might bite, and it is very important not to get angry if they bite you in the beginning. Instead, consider wearing a pair of welding gloves when you pick up the dog in the first few days until he learns that you are not there to hurt him but to care for him.
  • Be very patient: it can take days, weeks, or months to regain the trust of an abused animal. Dogs are no exception. Even if it takes ‘baby steps’, it will happen. Have faith in your new friend.

Swim dogs

There is a TV commercial in which dogs turn on all the faucets in the house causing an overflow of water and flooding of the living room. It is for Farmer’s insurance, and the faux agent in the ad says we cover everything, even “mermutts.” It is a play on mermaids, but they are dogs. It is a cute ad and we enjoy watching them frolicking in the water which is as high as the top of the sofa and chairs. I enjoy anything that is playful about animals. They are a gift to mankind and it is fun to humanize them and make them into troublemakers. It reminds us that you never know what you can expect from your pets. They do like to snoop around and play and use your personal belongings as toys. You have to keep puppies in particular amuses as they get bored easily. You can play catch of course and chase them around the yard. If you run out of things to do, on a hot day, dogs love to swim in the pool. I have two of them who can attest to it as super canine fun.

I have a nice above ground pool and it has a small ladder you can use to climb in. This is primarily for children who are too short to hop over the side. The dogs learned this trick quickly and have been found to swim vigorously, especially during the summer. Their fur gets warm and they crave a dunking. It is not good enough to spray them with the hose. They lie in the shade if the pool is taken by adult swimmers and members of the family. If they are allowed to jump in, they join in on the fun and splash around just like everyone else.

Dogs are adventurous by nature and when they discovered that they can swim, they went crazy. They approached the pool, sat quietly, and looked up at me for permission. Once I showed them the ladder, they were game. Any time was a good time for a swim. The pool was the right size and used salt water. The chlorine would have been too toxic for them or I would have surely nixed the whole idea. I am happy that the dogs are happy and they often sit close to me when I am in the house on the sofa as if to say thanks. The only problem is the issue of whether or not having animals in the pool is sanitary. Probably not. As a result, I have taken on the chore of keeping the pool clean. I use a special pool vacuum cleaner system suitable for water and I also put in an additive in the water that destroys bacteria. Between these two processes, it should take care of cleanliness. If someone, such as a neighbor, hesitates to swim in a pool frequented by dogs, they can decline.

New Volunteer

I adore being a volunteer who helps abused and mistreated animals. Sometimes I feel so much for these victims. After all, some of us like animals more than people. They can break your heart, however, and I do what I can to provide support which most often means locating a foster home for them. Kind people are all around who are willing to lend a hand. We have a list of them so it is pretty easy to find a home. A friend of mine took in a three-legged cat. The cat could walk by limping along and when she ran, she was more efficient and looked normal. I will never leave this volunteer job. I have met kindred souls. Volunteers come and go but some are rather special. There is a core group that includes a stand up paddleboard instructor. Now this is something I know little about. He explained that he uses an inflatable SUP like these and it provides for a great water adventure. “Would you like to come along on my next trip,” he inquired. I was quick with my positive reply. A lesson or two should have me riding on the board upright and not falling off. I have pretty good balance so it should be a good sport for me. I love the outdoors and water recreation. This will add to my stable of choices.

He brought the board to my house so I could see what it looked like and how it was constructed. He said paddle boards are getting more common, especially with the casual thrill-seeker. He had a 10-foot board with a rounded hull which would make paddleboarding easy on calm water as in a river or surf. All skill levels he said would enjoy this model. It is all about balance. Some people have been known to use yoga on a river or lake. There is a sturdy handle in the middle of the front he explained so I could easily carry it around. I asked what it was made of and found out that it is military-grade PVC put together with a kind of drop stitch technology. It is virtually unbreakable he said and I didn’t need to worry about mishaps or deflation on th4e water. It is interesting that the inflatable paddle board is just as rigid as the non-inflatable types. If you want to buy one, he said, you can store it deflated in the trunk of the car or at home. It doesn’t take much space.

I looked it over careful and noted the textured foam deck pad. This minimizes slipping and sliding while it is in use. It has four front stainless steel D-rings and includes a bungee cord connecting them. In this area you can stow extra equipment and a paddle, which is made of lightweight aluminum. Talk about high durability. This particular set of paddles that the instructor brought were adjustable which means they expand in length to suit your needs. I like that they fold up for storage. Somebody thought of everything. There is also another D-ring near the back so you can attach your board to a boat or dock. I absolutely love it and want the same model if it turns out that I like the sport. I also love the nylon fins which improve control and help maintain your desired direction. They are removable for transport. Every board comes with a manual pump that inflates the board through a specialized valve.

I think about going forward with a purchase. Next time I will tell you if I made one.

Doggie Water Therapy

A veterinary office can be a very busy place. There is usually a lineup of animals that need to be evaluated and treated so there is a lot of commotion in the waiting room. It takes attentive owners to make sure there are no doggie fights or aggressive behavior. The animals are frightened, of course, and many remember the place with less than fond memories. You take a cat, for example, out of its natural habitat, and its claws are extended. I admire the staff in the office for their patience and concern. They try to get to each pet quickly and to make the checkup painless and stress free. They know most of the patrons from their regular visits and they greet each animal warmly. This calms them down and makes for a more orderly business.

Some of the animals balk at being prodded and poked, but some like their designated therapy. I am referring to the small hot tub we have for rescue dogs. It seems that the abandoned pups like the warm bath. They get a good soaking and a thorough cleaning which they sorely need. Animals that have been living on the street get pretty grungy. It takes some elbow grease to get off the caked on dirt. You can imagine the condition of the hot tub after just one washing. The staff are so busy that it is hard for them to stop everything and take the time to rinse it out and get it ready for the next dog. Someone has to do it, and that someone could be me. Regular cleaning of a hot tub is essential. I have been known to volunteer for distasteful tasks and this certainly counts as one among them.

I empty the hot tub of all of the water and mop the floor surrounding the unit as it is full of sudsy soap. I wipe out the surface of the tub with an old towel and run for the disinfectant. I spray it on lavishly and swish it around with another clean towel. Then I rinse if down once again and it is primed for the next use. It takes a good half an hour so if you have a few rescue dogs waiting in the wings, they just have to wait their turn. If we are super pressed for time, we can bathe two dogs at once, but the water becomes so murky you wonder if the pups can really get clean. I love the hot tub availability. It sure beats hosing the dirty dogs down. The only place we can really do that is outside behind the clinic or in the surgery room. That is too unsanitary. The hot tub is the answer to everything. The dogs love it and even don’t mind being patted down to get dry with a good towel rub. It is like a massage for them. They love the love and attention. As rescue animals, they certainly haven’t been getting much of it lately.

Second Time Around

Much like my love for rehabilitating abused animals and finding them a good home, I like to go to secondhand and thrift shops to find items that maybe have seen better days or need a little TLC to breathe new life into them. Then I take them home, clean them up and see what can be done. Some of the items I keep or give to friends and some of it I sell—putting the money back into my foster care network, naturally.

I found a really nice—albeit scratched, dented, and in desperate need of some care—table a few weeks ago. I brought it home, stored it in the shed and promptly forgot about it because we got in a beautiful chocolate lab we named Becky, who was found abandoned in an empty home that had been foreclosed on. Took a few weeks, but I am happy to say that Becky is in good health and has found a temporary home while we establish her compatibility with a mix of people and other pets before she can be formally adopted.

I went out to the shed for something and lo and behold, there was the table. I was thinking about another dog, Petey, we had just been alerted to who had been abused by his former owners, and I was pretty angry about it. I decided to take my anger out productively and started sanding all the dings, scratches, and scuff marks from the table. It took HOURS, but by the end, I felt a lot calmer and had more of a plan to help Petey. I went back into the house and called it a night. Then I got busy with Petey’s case, so the table sat in the shed for another week. But my mind kept going back to it. The surface was so smooth now, nearly whole again (just like my dogs). I wanted to celebrate this victory over the table’s rough treatment in the past. I decided that I’d try a black lacquer on it—it would make it soft, smooth, and very glossy. Much like our lovely Becky after her some love, food, and a shampoo!

I was afraid to apply the lacquer paint with a paint brush—I didn’t want the brush strokes to show, so I decided to rent a paint sprayer. I talked to the manager at a hardware store and he recommended a paint sprayer that was perfect for laquer, so I went with that. I’ve used sprayers before with similar projects (although none with lacquer, this was a brand new idea of mine), so I was pretty comfortable with this one and I have to say, it worked like a charm. I was able to keep the overspray (the paint that got wasted) to a minimum and there were no streaky paintbrush strokes to mar the finish on my shiny new table. Honestly, if I had a lot of money, I’d pay for the gun and use it every time. It went that smoothly.

The table came out really nice. Now I am on the hunt for some chairs to go with it. I think I may keep this one for myself for awhile!

Taking the Time to Celebrate

I get used to the stress of finding homes for animals. Each and every one is special to me, and there is a big, welcome sigh of relief when placement happens. Everyone involved is elated. Most of the time, things are fairly routine and animals come and go. It makes for a happy environment. There are moments, however, when you draw in your breath and panic. This animal, you say to yourself, is going to be tough.

Facing such a situation is par for the course when dealing with shelters and a plenitude of animals, but it never makes it any easier. You rack your brain for ideas and new ways to find candidates to take difficult pets. There are always those kind souls that take a three-legged cat or a deaf dog. Sometimes you are racing against the clock. As unimaginable as it may seem, some shelters have time limits and will put an animal down if it passes the deadline. You fight hard not to become critical (policy is policy and it is always about funds).

The adrenalin gets going as you search in your limited database and make those requisite calls. You pass the word on social media; you text, send messages, and emails. You hope someone miraculously will drop in and fall in love. While this can happen, most of the time it doesn’t. Thus, placing a particular challenge when you are running out of time can be exhausting. When it is done, you are ready for a respite. You reach for that ubiquitous glass of wine; and for a moment, your mind comes to a halt.

To alleviate stress, wine is a winner. Some like coffee or tea; others beer. For me, it is the fruit of the vine. It pays to have your little portable wine cooler/fridge on hand. You can get them in different size to hold a few or a dozen bottles as space permits. This way they are chilled perfectly and ready to decant. I believe everyone should take the time to celebrate little victories in work and life. It is what keeps us going.

I had a one-bottle gadget for some time sitting underneath my desk. I loved it so much that I indulged in a 12-bottle beverage cooler fridge so I wouldn’t have to restock all the time. This way I could buy in bulk and avail myself of store discounts. The cooler takes up little space and can go on top or below any surface such as a staff lounge. Mine is next to the stainless steel microwave (which, by the way, it perfectly matches). Small units usually have one temperature control so they are often restricted to whites. When you get the larger models that house several dozen of your favorites, you can get dual control so both whites and reds are in their best “zone.”

However you celebrate, it is your special time and a nice contrast to the rest of the day ahead. Even while relaxing your body, you can refresh your mind. Take it from me, a cold glass of chardonnay is the best late afternoon treat.