News: Guest Posts
Jammin’ with the Dogs
DIY video contest for Steve Martin song.

On Tuesday, I had the great pleasure of seeing Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers perform songs from his CD The Crow: New Songs for the Five String Banjo. A highlight was Martin’s live version of “Wally on the Run,” a song about his dog playing fetch. Fiddler Nicky Sanders created the sounds of barking and whining perfectly with his bow and strings. Pure fun.

So I was thrilled when I heard about his “Make Your Own Music Video Contest” for “Wally on the Run.” If you’re a fan of banjo and dogs, like me, why not get into the spirit of things yourself by capturing your dog's antics on video? First prize: bragging rights and $1,000 first prize. Second prize: 99 cents. Here are the details direct from the wild and crazy guy, himself.

Wally On The Run : A Message from Steve Martin
by SteveMartin



Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Weekend Recycling Fun
Turn your unwanted t-shirts into tug toys.

Last weekend I was cleaning out my closets and quickly created a pile of t-shirts that I didn’t need. Over the years I’ve collected my fair share of wearable memorabilia from college events, walk-a-thons, and vacations.

Before I brought the clothes to the Salvation Army, I wondered if there was anything crafty that I could do with the shirts.

Inspired by Genuine Dog Gear’s Jersey Tugmaster, I decided that I’d try my hand at making a tug toy for my pups. I picked out a blue t-shirt that I hadn’t worn in years and started by cutting it into strips.

The width you cut depends on how thick you want the tug toy to be. My dogs like thinner tugs, so I cut the strips about 2 inches wide. I took six strips and doubled them up to make three strands. Then I bunched them together, tied a knot at the end, braided the middle, and tied another knot at the other end.

The toy actually came out better than I thought. And since I had extra material left, I decided to try another version with a handle. This time I cut longer strands and didn’t double up. As I got to the end, I made a loop and wove the unbraided end into the braided section and tied a couple knots to secure the handle.

Tug toys aren’t cheap, and because I bring them with me to agility trials and to class, I’m always misplacing them. Or if I’m not careful, my pup Nemo finds them and makes the tug toy into a chew toy. This craft is an easy way to reuse old t-shirts while making an affordable toy for the dogs.

Do you have any favorite doggy craft projects?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
You Ought To Be In Pictures
Tips for American Humane Association photo contest.

The American Humane Association is sponsoring a photo contest with prize money up for grabs. There are four categories to choose from: Pets, People & Pets, Down on the Farm and Shelter Life. If you plan to submit a photo of your dog, consider these photographic tips.

A lot of dogs are terrified of cameras, which look like giant eyes pointed directly at them. In the dog world, staring is both rude and threatening. Dogs are usually less frightened by a larger lens far away than by a smaller lens close up, so a portrait lens is a good investment. Concerning the eyes of the dog, they are the most important feature. A photo can survive blurry parts, especially the fur and tail when in motion, but eyes must be sharp!

Many dogs are riveted by motion, so wiggling a finger, waving an arm or shaking a toy will keep many dogs occupied and looking in the right direction. If a dog has a tendency to consider stay optional, a slight lean forward by the photographer is often enough to keep a dog in place.

Most dogs look especially adorable when cocking their heads. The easiest way to get a dog to do so is to make an unfamiliar sound. Try a click, a smooch, a squeak, a woop woop, sing a few bars, imitate a bird or any other sound that’s new to the dog but unlikely to scare him.

Proper perspective can make or break a picture. Getting down to the dog’s level rather than shooting from above will help avoid unflattering photos which show off and enlarge his nose.

To convey the essence of a dog requires incorporating the dog’s personality into the photo. Does the dog love to fetch more than life itself? Put a tennis ball or two in the frame. Is there another toy that is a constant companion? Use it as part of the foreground. Does she often have one ear up and one ear down, her tongue hanging way out, or one paw raised? All photographic and behavioral techniques aside, it’s that sense of having captured what makes a dog unique, not just beautiful, that leads to a picture a photographer can be proud of taking and compelled to share.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Putting on the Dog
A special twist for the sweater set.
Sweater & Yarn

By the end of shedding season, it can seem as though you have brushed enough hair of the dog to knit yourself a sweater. Actually, it might take more than one season to collect enough for a sweater, but a scarf or simple keepsake knitted from mohair-soft yarn spun from one season’s worth of your pal’s undercoat is well within reach of most breeds.

For thousands of years, humans have spun dog hair into yarn and enjoyed a warmth that actually rivals that of sheep’s wool. Each strand of yarn swirls with subtle colors. Over time, some of the hair lifts, forming a soft halo that inspires some to refer to dog-hair fabrics as “chiengora.” The resulting garments and keepsakes will warm your heart long after your co-pilot has trotted off this mortal coil.

“I get almost every reaction imaginable when I tell people I spin dog hair,” laughs Joanne Littler, one of a coterie of hand-spinners around the country who turns dog hair into spun gold. “They either screw up their faces and go ‘ewwww!’ or they are fascinated that this is a possibility.”

In her fiber studio in Fairfax, Vermont, Joanne finds that fur from all but the very shortest of Shorthairs will twist into a fine yarn, ready for the warp and woof of the loom or for the loose knotting of knitting needles. If you want to make socks or some other stretchy project, some spinners suggest blending in wool fibers to add the elasticity dog hair lacks.

“The largest piece I’ve done is a 36-by 60-inch throw,” Joanne recalls. “It was made with about four pounds of Sheltie hair. The colors were a whole bunch of different grays, a little bit of charcoal, some fawn, and some creamy whites that made their own pattern throughout it.”

But what keeps you from smelling like your favorite swamp dog when you wrap yourself in a Samoyed scarf and wind up in an unexpected downpour? The same dish soap that dispenses with grease and grime from your pots and pans will also wash away the dirt and body oils that cause dog hair to smell.

Some spinners prefer to wash the hair themselves rather than have dog owners do it, as the it can easily mat or felt when wet, which renders it impossible to spin. Then they’ll usually will do a secondary sort to choose fibers that will yield the strongest, softest, most consistent yarn.

It doesn’t take a mountain of hair to provide enough yarn for a pair of mittens (about six ounces), a scarf (about 12 ounces) or a small keepsake (about an ounce). The best way to harvest the finest fibers is to leave those furry tumbleweeds under the bed and do what comes naturally: Brush your buddy.

Use a fine wire brush and focus on the downy undercoat that blows out in the spring. Get rid of as many of the stiff outer hairs as possible, and stash the softest fibers in a breathable container, such as a paper grocery bag or a cotton pillowcase, to keep them from moldering.

The amount of yarn-per-ounce of hair a pooch produces can vary wildly among breeds, and sometimes even among dogs within a breed. Projects requiring heavier yarns, such as sweaters, will require more hair per yard of yarn than lighter projects, such as scarves.

Check with yarn shops, local spinning guilds or textile magazines such as Spin-Off to find a spinner who’s experienced in working with dog hair—and who appreciates that mixed-breed bond of humor, respect and a lifetime of puppy love.

Dog's Life: DIY
Crafting a Martingale Collar
Do it yourself
Craft A Collar

Martingale collars are not just for sighthounds anymore—they’re also a good choice for dogs who’ve learned they can back out of their collars and head for the nearest dog park on their own. Martingales are modified slip collars; the large loop goes around the dog’s neck, while the leash is attached to the D-ring on the smaller loop. (Dogs should NOT wear this collar unsupervised, and it should never be used as a tie-out collar.) Here’s how to make one from scratch. My pretty little Vizsla girl, Jersey, is the model.

What You’ll Need

  • Webbing (Cotton, polypropylene or nylon; I’m using cotton here.)* Three D-rings (scavenge from an old collar if possible)
  • Scissors
  • A flexible measuring tape
  • Sewing machine and thread. (You can sew the collar by hand, but that’s just a total pain.)

*Your local fabric store may have webbing, or check strapworks.comfor supplies.

Step 1: Measure your dog’s neck. To ensure that the collar fits properly and your dog can’t back out of it, you need to take two measurements: one directly behind the ears and one lower down on the neck, where you would like the collar to sit. When measuring behind the ears, make sure that the tape is snug.

Step 2: Cut the webbing. Cut two pieces—one for the neck loop and one for the control loop. Jersey’s “behind the ear” measurement was 14 inches, so I added 2 inches to that and cut a 16-inch piece of webbing. For the control loop, I subtracted the “behind the ear” measurement (14 inches) from the “neck” measurement (17 inches) and came up with 3 inches. This is the total spread that you will want on the control loop. I doubled this measurement and added 2 inches to come up with a length of 8 inches for webbing on the control loop.

Step 3: Sew on the first D-ring. Take one of the D-rings, insert the webbing through it and fold over about 3/4 of an inch (A). Sew a straight line up and down over the webbing. Triple-stitch this line for strength, using the reverse button on your sewing machine (B).

Step 4: Sew on the second D-ring. To get the correct size for the neck loop, you must take the length of the D-rings into account. Lay the webbing out on a flat surface and place the measuring tape next to it. Slide the second D-ring over the webbing and fold the webbing over the neck loop until it’s the length that you need (C). Pin the fold into place and sew two lines (as in step three). Make sure both folded ends are on the same side of the neck loop. Now that you have completed the neck loop, trim all loose threads.

Step 5: Thread the control loop. With the folds of the neck loop facing OUTWARD, thread the control loop through both D-rings. Slide the remaining D-ring on the LEFT side of the control loop webbing (D).

Step 6: Sew the control loop. First, put the control loop together so that the ends overlap by about 2 inches. Make sure that the D-ring is still lying to the left. Sew two seams as in step 3. Next, flip the control loop inside out so that the fold that you have just sewn is on the inside of the loop. Bring the D-ring as close as you can to the seam that you just finished and sew two new seams as in step three (E). Trim all loose threads.

There you have it, your finished martingale collar, which you made with your own two hands!

Dog's Life: DIY
Make a Crate Cover
Sometimes, a pup just needs a little privacy or protection from the sun.
Crate Cover

•Heavyweight fabric (such as upholstery fabric or a quilted material), bias tape and thread
•Velcro® or ribbon for air vents and attachments (optional)

Measure the crate. Allow extra for shrinkage and seam allowances, plus some for roominess. If the crate is relatively small, you can cut out the cover in one piece (see drawing). If you want air vents, cut them out.You can also cut the front and top with a “front blind” as one piece, and the sides and back separately.

To keep the cover from being too warm for summer use, make a wide opening at the top, centered on the back, so air can circulate.

Fold under a hem of 3⁄4 in. + 3⁄4 in. around the edge and sew it down, or finish edge with bias tape.

If you didn’t cut out the front blind in the same piece as the top, cut it out separately. The blind should be a little bigger than an air vent; don’t forget the seam allowances. Hem around both short sides and one long side. Sew the other long side securely to the top if it wasn’t previously cut as one piece. Attach Velcro® so that the blind can be held down when it’s cold. Also attach Velcro® on the top so the blind can be held open (see photo). In order to adjust the air vents, use lengths of Velcro® on the top.Use Velcro® or ribbon on the long sides of the air vents to attach the back to the crate.

Sew the sides and back securely to the top (with front and blind) if they were not cut out as a single piece. Sew the back to the sides, with side A at side B.

If you are sewing the sides to the front, match side C to side D. Fold and sew a hem around entire lower edge.

You may also want to sew a Velcro® or ribbon closure on the lower edge at C, if needed.

If there is a carrying handle on the cage, cut out an opening for it in the cover. Overcast the raw edges, then hem or edge with bias tape.

Wellness: Recipes
Make It & Take It
Nothing says love like homemade gifts

Nothing says love like homemade gifts, and if we asked dogs what’s on their wish list, we bet they’d say, “Treats, please.” When it comes to wrapping those treats, think creative reuse and extend the gift potential.Here are ideas to get you started.

By Dianne Porter
Whip up three dozen bite-sized carob mini-cupcakes in less than an hour with this original recipe.

1/4 cup honey
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar-free applesauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons carob powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix It Up
Preheat oven to 350°.Whisk ingredients together. Oil mini-muffin tins and fill with approximately one tablespoon of batter. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, remove from muffin tin. (Pupcakes freeze well.)

Remember: Chocolate is off limits to dogs. Never substitute cocoa for the carob.

By Friederike Friedel

2 1/2 cups wheat flour
1/2 cup oat bran
1/3 cup semolina
3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 egg
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 cup (approx.) water

How to Do It
Preheat oven to 300º and line a pan with baking paper.Measure and mix wheat flour, oat bran and semolina. Add the cheese, egg, sunflower oil and water.Mix to a smooth dough. Roll the dough 1/4'' thick on a floured surface. Cut strips 1/2'' wide and 5'' long with a large knife. Twist the dough strips like corkscrews. Bake about 20 minutes.

While dogs would be happy to have their gift treats piled on the floor in front of them, their human companions will appreciate a more thoughtful presentation. This year, try the traditional Japanese art of wrapping gifts in fabric squares—furoshiki—as an attractive and functional way to reduce paper waste. Not only is this an eco-sensitive option, the fabric can be put to other uses, doubling the gift. For furoshiki wrapping directions, click here.

Dog's Life: DIY
Craft a Pebble Dog!
Lovable companions crafted from pebbles and paper.
Pebble Pets


You will need:
• five A5 (21 x 15cm/8¼ x 5¾in) rectangles of handmade paper: one each in black, dark brown, pink, reddish-brown and white for the body, collar, ears, head, nose and tail
• two A5 (21 x 15cm/8¼ x 5¾in) rectangles of craft paper: one each in black and white for the ears and eyes
• one 3cm (11/8in) length of 24-gauge white covered florists’ wire for the tail
• one pink facial tissue
• glue mix*

• teardrop punch
• gold coloured brass paper fastener
• basic tool kit

Pebble focus: for the body, you will need one broad bean-shaped pebble that is slightly plump at one end to suggest the rump. It should be about the same size as a hen’s egg. For the head, you will need one oval-shaped pebble, approximately half of the size of the pebble used for the body.

1. To make the ears, use a pencil, ruler and scissors to mark, measure and cut out two 3 x 4cm (11/8 x 1½in) rectangles for the inner ears: one each in pink handmade paper and white craft paper. For the outer ears, cut out two 2 x 3cm (¾ x 11/8in) rectangles: one each in reddish-brown and white handmade paper. Using the template below, make up the ears using pink handmade paper for the inner ear colouring. Be careful to make one ear’s outer colouring reddish-brown and the other ear’s outer colouring white. Set the ears aside.

2. To make the tail, use a pencil and ruler to mark and measure out an isosceles triangle with a base of 2cm (¾in) and sides of 3cm (11/8in) onto the white handmade paper. Tear it out and smear glue mix* all over the paper. Place the florists’ wire on top of the triangle’s apex. Slant the paper at a slight angle and wind it spirally down, covering the wire by rotating it. Make sure that one end is pointed to create the tail’s tip and the other end is slightly thicker to form the base of the tail. Set the tail aside.

3. Use the glue mix to cover both pebbles completely with pieces of white handmade paper. When the glue is dry, use a pencil to outline the place on the body pebble where the head pebble is to be attached.

4. To attach the patch and ears, tear out a circular-shaped patch from reddish-brown handmade paper, the size of which should fill half the forehead. Using the glue mix, attach this onto the appropriate part of the forehead. Attach the ears onto the back of the head using a little PVA adhesive. The pink inner ear should face towards the front of the dog. Use small pieces of reddish-brown and white handmade paper to hide the join between the ears and head.

5. Apply a little glue mix to the muzzle area and attach small pieces of pink facial tissue over the glued area. Tear out a thumb-tip sized circle from brown handmade paper. Apply a little glue mix to the paper and mould it into a triangular-shaped nose. Using a little PVA adhesive, attach it onto the tip of the muzzle. When the adhesive is dry, cover the nose with a layer of clear nail varnish.

6. To make the eyes, use a teardrop punch to create two teardrops from black craft paper. Using a drop of PVA adhesive, attach them onto the face in the desired position and add a tiny dot of white acrylic paint to each eye. When the paint is dry, cover the eyes with a layer of clear nail varnish. Use a grey brush-tip pen to draw on an upside down Y for the bull terrier’s mouth.

Take your time creating the facial details to get them just right for each breed. Bull Terriers are known for their long, slim ears and slanted, closely set eyes, so take care when positioning these.

7. To make the body, tear out one circular-shaped patch from reddish-brown handmade paper, the size of which should cover one side of the back. Tear out another patch of a suitable size to cover the rump. Attach these patches onto their appropriate areas of the body using the glue mix.

8. Using a little PVA adhesive, attach the base of the tail onto the underside of the body’s back-end. Use a small piece of white handmade paper to hide the join between the tail and body.

9. To join the pebbles, use a pencil, ruler and scissors to mark, measure and cut out a 1 x 6cm (3/8 x 23/8in) rectangle of white handmade paper. Join the head and body pebbles together, making sure that the paper ring is glued onto the outlined area created in step 3.

10. Create the collar with a nametag from black handmade paper and a gold coloured brass paper fastener. Fasten it around the dog’s neck to hide the join between the two pebbles.


*To create a glue mix, make up a small amount of wallpaper paste that is lumpy in consistency. Add an equal quantity of PVA adhesive (white glue) and mix it into a smooth paste to make an ideal mix for attaching handmade paper onto your pebble. While not in use, cover the dish with a piece of plastic to prevent the mix from drying hard.

Henry’s collar is functional as well as fashionable! In addition to giving him a smart appearance, it cleverly hides the joins between the head and body pebbles.

Pet Trek

Join the Irvine Animal Care Center for the 9th annual Pet Trek dog walk and health fair. 8am-12pm, Sat., Sept. 25 at Woodbridge Community Park in Irvine. Come solo or form a "pack" to raise money for Irvine's homeless pets. Plus: vendors, adoptions, food, silent auction, demos, health fair, contests and more! Pre-register for only $25 and receive an event goody bag. Great prizes for top pledge earners. Call 949-724-7740 or visit our website for more info.

Waggers and Wine

Come out to Russian River Vineyards on Sunday, August 15 for Waggers and Wine. An event to benefit the Sonoma County Animal Shelter.