Diana ❤️ Squirrels

Every morning we go for a walk before it gets too hot. We live in Texas, so hot comes early and often when you’re a Furry Beastie. For Diana, the best part of the walk is the section of the park filled with squirrels.

Diana ❤️ Squirrels.

Daisy likes squirrels and all other creatures too. But when Daisy is walking, she’s got places to go, things to sniff. Not much time for squirrels really.

Diana – “Squirrel!”
Daisy – “Hmm…what? Who cares? Come on, let’s go!”

Diana zones in on squirrels.

She’s a big fan.

Diana is convinced that if she could only meet a squirrel up close, they would be friends. Daisy and I are not so sure that would be a great idea.

Diana would love it if I would install a squirrel table in our backyard. A place for friends to hang out. Get to know each other. Something like this.

This admittedly super cute squirrel picnic table is made by Squirrel Feeder and available on Amazon.

Diana, that looks like a trap! Sorry, that’s definitely not a good idea.

No pouting Diana!

Diana wonders if there is any chance she’ll get a squirrel picnic table for Christmas. Maybe if she asks Santa Paws…

Chiengora – The Beginning

Living with Furry Beasties means living with dog fur. Everywhere. Vacuuming and sweeping helps of course, but inevitably there is fur on my clothes, in my food, and definitely on my floors. It’s worth it for the sweetness of my Furry friends.

Newfies frequently generate enough extra fur to create a bonus dog!

Wandering through the internet one day, I came across an article on chiengora. Chiengora is yarn made from dog fur. Similar to angora, chiengora is soft and warm with a sort of furry halo around it, but it is made with dog fur instead of fur from Angora rabbits. Immediately I pictured myself wearing a warm chiengora Furry Beastie hat. After all, I certainly have enough raw material!

I started saving the fur that I brushed out of Furry Beasties with the theory of one day sending it off somewhere to be spun. Clippings aren’t great for spinning but Newfies shed hair pretty much constantly. They also blow their coats a few times a year which means daily brushing and lots of loose fur. Each time I brushed my Furry friends, I shoved a few handfuls of dog fur in a bag and stuck the bag in a drawer. Before I knew it, I had overflowing bags and the drawer was stuffed full. It was time to go a little further in my plan towards a Furry Beastie hat.

Source A – Daisy likes to be brushed. Happy times.

Turns out many people who spin dog fur have a backlog of clients. Since I’ve had some spare time at home the past several months due to Covid restrictions, I decided to try doing it myself! Full disclosure – I am in no way a textile artist. I read some blogs, watched some videos, thumbed through a few books and then just gave it a go.

Source B – Willing to accept bribes for brushes. Sometimes.

Okay, so when I say I’m not a textile artist, the truth is I didn’t even know how to knit. That seemed like the place to start. I started teaching myself and made some scarves, hats, and dishcloths. Turns out, knitting is pretty fun. And soothing too!

Next step was ordering a drop spindle and some wool top and learning to spin wool into yarn. Dog fur can be tricky to work with and starting out with wool seemed like good practice. Spinning feels like meditation. Creating a bit of order out of chaos. I liked it immediately. I learned how to pinch, spin, draft. I got better at keeping my yarn thickness consistent and dropped the spindle less often. There are a few steps after that to set the twist and so on, but in the end, I created my first ball of spun yarn.

Dog fur stored in paper bag, spindle, helpful booklet and wool top.

It was time to get out the bags of dog fur. I washed and air-dried several ounces of prime Newfie fur. Diana was fascinated by this part. She thinks all future washing of dog fur should happen after the fur is off the dog. She’s not a fan of bath-time!

Carders full of dog fur and wool

Then I bought myself a pair of carders and used those to create a batt of dog fur/wool mix (80% dog fur and 20% wool). Next, came the spindle again and in no time at all, I had spun some chiengora yarn.

A good start!

Okay, so the whole process is a little time consuming. I definitely enjoyed it more than I thought I would! There will be lots more washing, carding, and spinning to do before I have enough chiengora to start knitting my lovely warm Furry Beastie hat, but I am definitely getting closer to my goal.

What will the dogs think when they see me wearing Chiengora? I’m not sure if they will be thrilled that I have embraced their Newfie-ness or if they will be creeped out by the whole thing. Updates to come.

Daisy’s Favorite Things

Birthday – November 30

Nicknames – Daisy Bear, Lazy Daisy, Nap Queen

Favorite Toy – Hedgehog. Daisy used to have a pillow pet she would carry around so that she was prepared to nap anywhere at any time. Diana stole it. Daisy got a new one. Diana stole that too. Hedgehog is sacred. Even Diana knows better than to try to steal Hedgehog. Most of the time.

Walks or Car Rides – Car Rides. All day long. Short walks are okay. Anything longer and Daisy has been known to lay down on the sidewalk and request that we go home and get the car to pick her up.

Car Rides with Hedgehog? Perfection.

Pet Peeves – People making noise during nap time. Diana stealing her toys.

Favorite Foods – Cheese. Watermelon. Fish. And French fries. Always french fries.

So juicy! She only gets the red part, no rinds for puppies!

Hobbies – Daisy is a certified Therapy Dog. She loves going to schools to help kids practice reading. Her favorite books are Biscuit books. Woof! Woof!

Daisy is a Biscuit super-fan.

Embarrassing Puppyhood Story – Daisy is a water dog. She loves to swim. Without an indoor pool, she once resorted to splashing her front paws and head in a toilet. Water all over the bathroom! Thank goodness it had just been cleaned. Silly Daisy Bear. Good news for Daisy, we did not take any photos! Now that would be embarrassing.

Happy Birthday Diana!

Three years ago, this small sweetheart came into the world. A short time later, Darling Diana became a part of our family. We loved her from the moment we saw her.

Today we celebrated our sweet furry girl as Darling Diana turned three! She had a fabulous day. We planned a pool party with her bestie, but rain and Covid-19 changed our plans a little. No worries, we still had lots of playtime and cuddles. Diana even enjoyed a virtual visit through Zoom with some dear friends!

And of course, there had to be cake. Who doesn’t love cake?

After cake, it was time for presents!

Diana loves her new Birthday Loofa Toy. Stuffies are her very favorites. She loves to cuddle them, shake them, and gum on them. A new stuffy was just perfect for her.

Eventually even the best of Birthdays come to an end. Diana had a lovely day with her family and friends. All that partying wears a puppy out.

Happy Birthday Darling Diana!

Furry Beastie Conspiracy

Conspiracy

The Furry Beasties weigh in at approximately 225 pounds or 102 kilograms combined. Currently, they are conveniently located between the area where I am prepping dinner and the area where I am cooking dinner.  It is possible to pass between them.  Barely.  Coincidence?

Listen, don’t be fooled by this innocent face.

IMG_2753

It may be Diana’s idea.  She is the mischievous one and clearly, she does not trust herself to look me in the eye.

img_2753-e1537745202744.jpg

Still, if Diana were to casually stretch out her paw, and  I were to trip over that outstretched paw?  There would be two Furry Beasties partaking in the feast.  Sunday roast for Furry Beasties and cereal for the Non-Furries in the family.

Furry Beasties, I am on to you!

❤️ Sisterly love ❤️

Diana often drives Daisy crazy. Diana is quite frisky and more interested in wrestling than napping most of the time.  When two large Newfs play, the whole house shakes and conversations are impossible!  Then they sleep…and they hold paws…and hearts melt.  😍

Daisy and Diana sleep holding paws most of the time. 💖

In service to others

IMG_2113
Daisy waiting for her next reader at a recent R.E.A.D. session.

Daisy and I qualified as a therapy dog team just about a year ago. She mostly visits senior centers and special events such as college exam stress relief sessions.  We are also a R.E.A.D. team which allows us to visit elementary schools weekly so that reluctant readers can read stories to Daisy.

Daisy loves her visits and gets excited when her vest comes out. Going to new places to be petted and loved on by strangers is her idea of a perfect day.

If my Furry Beastie and I become a therapy team, does that mean my dog can go to restaurants and on airplanes with me?

No, therapy animals are not service animals or emotional support animals.  They are amazing, wonderful creatures who have undergone training with kind caring handlers, but they do not get special privileges.  A good comparison chart is below.  You and your Furry Beastie will not receive special privileges reserved for service dogs, but you likely will feel privileged to be able to help those in need of a furry friend.

IMG_0538
Note – I did not create this image. It seems to be all over the place online so I am not sure who deserves the credit, but it’s definitely not me!

Could any Furry Beastie be part of a therapy team?

If your Furry Beastie loves being with people and is comfortable in a variety of situations, a therapy team might be right for you.  Start off with making sure your basic obedience commands are solid. Then contact your local therapy animals organization and see what your next step would be.  Many organizations offer their own training or at least can recommend a trainer or group class to help your dog practice skills such as moving through a large group of people, how to become familiar with walkers and wheelchairs and so on.

Not all therapy teams involve dogs either.  There are also therapy cats, therapy rabbits, even therapy horses and therapy donkeys! Regardless of your Furry Beasties species, you may find that being part of a therapy team is immensely rewarding for both of you.

 

Travelling in Cars with Furry Beasties

Mother Nature may not like it, but we are getting close to summer, and with summer comes road trips!  Full disclosure, I am not an animal behaviorist or a dog trainer.  I have travelled a lot with a vehicle full of Furry Beasties and kids, and I’ve found a few things that work for me.

IMG_0781

Road trip!

Hotels

Definitely pre-plan your stops.  Not every hotel will take dogs. Some hotels that accept furry guests will only take dogs who are below a certain size and some will have limited rooms available for pets.  Worth checking too is how much the hotel will charge for your furry family member as some hotels charge nothing at all, and others can charge $25-$100 dollars.  Personally, I try to look for La Quinta hotels (not a sponsor of this blog!) because almost all of their properties accept dogs of all sizes for no extra fee.  They are not five star hotels, but they are generally bright and clean and very pet-friendly.

Hotel tip – If possible, try to take your dog on an elevator a few times beforehand.  You don’t want your pet to get nervous or scared at the end of a long day when you are trying to wrangle suitcases and possibly kids at check-in time.  If you know your dog is nervous in elevators, try to book a ground floor room if possible.

IMG_1376Warning – If  you don’t restrain your dog in the car while traveling, you could wind up with a lap dog when your Furry Beastie decides they want to look out the window!

Restaurants

The system that has worked best for me is to get up early and have a quick breakfast at the hotel before leaving.  If your hotel has breakfast, try to take turns walking the Furry Beasties and getting breakfast.  A good walk in the morning sets them up for a nap in the car once you start out for the day.

At some point, we stop for the healthiest drive thru lunch that makes every one happy.  That’s a post for another day because I usually travel with four kids and multiple Beasties! We’ll take our drive through lunch to a park or rest stop and eat outside while the Furries get some fresh air and another walk and then we are off for the last driving session of the day.

I try to stop for the day by late afternoon.  Everyone is tired of the car at that point. Once we are checked in to the hotel for the night, we try to find a local restaurant to get dinner delivered. The Furry Beasties can roam the hotel room while we eat something that reminds us we are traveling through a different area!  BBQ in the south, Pizza in Chicago, whatever works.

Please plan to bring enough of your Furry Beasties regular food as you will need for your entire trip.  Your Furry Beasties food may not be available at your destination and a vacation is not the time to try out new dog food.  Upset tummies and road trips do not mix well!  Always keep extra water for your Furry Beasties in the car and a water dish for when you stop.  I like the collapsible water dishes because our vehicle is usually crammed full.

Why not take your dogs to restaurants?  If your dogs are great on dog-friendly patios, by all means, give this a try too.  For me, I think my dogs are out of their routine when we travel, and I always want to set them up for success when they are out in public.

Why not leave the dogs in the car and run in for a quick lunch?  Obviously, if it’s a hot day, this is extremely dangerous for your dogs.  Even if it’s not super hot, cars heat up fast and your Furry friend does not do well in the heat.  Sure you could leave the windows down or the a/c running but there are safety concerns there too.  You also may have a well-meaning passerby try to rescue your dogs if they feel they are in danger or may call the police to rescue your Beastie.  Even if your Furry friend is perfectly safe in your opinion, you could find yourself in a difficult situation.  Chances are you have many other opportunities to go for lunches without Furries. Why not embrace this time with your Beasties instead.  Which brings me to…

Why travel with Furry Beasties at all? Certainly, not every trip is going to be ideal for your Furry Beasties to join you.  Consider how long the trip is and what your destination plans are before deciding to bring your Furry Beasties along.  Sometimes it may be better to send your Beasties to a kennel or a bed and biscuit or hire a pet sitter to come to your home.  If  it is possible with your timeline and vacation time, take your Furry friends and have fun with them during your road trip.  You may need to stop more often for potty breaks or walks. If you look for interesting places to stop along the way,  you may discover some hidden gems you would otherwise have missed.  You will literally have the opportunity to stop and smell the roses and that can make for a wonderfully relaxing trip.

IMG_6872

Daisy at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Do you have any great tips or advice to share about your experiences traveling with your own Furry Beasties?  Feel free to share in the comments section!