Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pawprint String Art

I thought I'd share with you my most-pinned image from my blog and Pinterest page.  It's reeeeally not a great shot of it, but it does look much nicer in person.  I wanted to create some wall decor that was unique and easy to make...enter string art!  This project was super simple:

1.  I did a Google search for clip art I liked and found the heart within a paw print.
2.  I purchased my plain ol' wood slab from Walmart and painted it white.
3.  I printed my template out on a sheet of paper and had my husband hold it to the wood, while I...
4.  Hammered small nails evenly into the piece of paper as well as the wood behind it.
5.  Once every nail was in place, I tore the paper away.
6.  Then I started stringin'!  This was fun but a bit time consuming.  Basically, you just start with a knot around one nail and then loop from nail to nail in whatever  pattern you'd like.  (I'm sure there is a more professional and precise way to do this, but we really kind of winged it.)
7.  A dab of super glue on the end of the string kept the ends from sticking out.

The instructions make it seem complicated, but it definitely wasn't!  If I had known it would be so popular on Pinterest, I would have taken step-by-step photos.  I love that string art is so easy to personalize - you can do whatever shape (dog silhouette, words), color, and pattern you'd like!

If you're inspired by this project and make something similar - please share!  I'd love to see what you come up with!  

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tuesday's Tails: Unbreakabull Bullies

When I worked for the Humane Society of North Iowa, I met a lot of wonderful people that are so passionate about animal rescue, including my former coworker, Lindsey.  Lindsey recently began working for a great Iowa organization called Unbreakabull Bullies.  As you may have guessed by their title, this group is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating the breeds commonly referred to as "pit bulls."

Bully breeds are incredibly misunderstood.  The media (even educated authors and writers) paints these dogs to be vicious, man-eating beasts, regardless of their background or upbringing.  However, since I started working with dogs, I have had nothing but pleasant experiences with pit bull breeds.  In fact, every single one I've met has been a goofy, affectionate sweetheart.  Unbreakabull Bullies feels the same way, and they've also dedicated much of their time toward putting a stop to Breed Specific Legislation.

Even though Lindsey has three dogs of her own, she recently agreed to foster three puppies and two adult dogs!  (Note:  This makes me soooo jealous!  I want to foster so bad!)  Amazing, right?!

Sweet "tri-pawd" Louie is a pittie mix who still has quite a bit of puppy in him at only two years old.  He came to Unbreakabull Bullies from Chicago, where, sadly, someone had shot him in the leg and abandoned him to die.  Once rescued, Louie had the injured leg amputated and made a full recovery - according to foster mom Lindsey, having three paws rather than four doesn't slow him down one bit!

Louie seriously sounds like the whole package:  He is house- and crate-trained, and he gets along with every kind of human and animal.  He loves to snuggle with Lindsey's young daughter, but he might love romping and playing even more - Lindsey thinks he would do well in a home with another high-energy pet so he has someone to run around with.  Louie sounds incredibly smart as well; he's even being trained to respond to hand signals!  Who wouldn't want to adopt this guy?!  Contact Unbreakabull Bullies to give Louie a home...before someone else gets to him first!

These three adorable puppies are almost ready to go home - at only eight weeks old, Lindsey is still learning about their personalities.  But typical of most puppies, they are equal parts playful and cuddly!  The roly-poly male's name is Echo (top photo), and he just loves being around people, soaking up all the attention and affection.  Bizzy's name fits her personality, because she is one busy pup - Lindsey says she is full of spunk and sass!  The other female is named Ezra, and she is rather quiet compared to her sister; she'd much rather snuggle than play.

And rounding off this pack is Jade, a petite little princess who was found roaming the streets.  About a year old, this girl weighs in at only around 35 pounds.  As you can see, Jade is one beautiful girl, and her foster mom says she is very snuggly and lovable.  

If you're interested in adopting one of these gorgeous dogs or know someone who might be, please contact Unbreakabull Bullies.  The puppies have an adoption fee of $150, while the adults have a $100 fee.  This includes spay/neuter, microchip, and all necessary vaccinations.  In the meantime, share their photos so they have more chances of finding their forever homes!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tuesday's Tails: Gorgeous Gizzy - UPDATED!

Update:  I originally posted this last May.  Sadly, Gizzy is still available and waiting for a forever home.  He is now about a year and a half old.  Gizzy was adopted as a kitten, then returned because his cat brother did not care for him.  However, Gizzy loves both cats and dogs, and he's great with children.  He's still just as handsome as ever, and y'all, he is so very sweet.  

Gizzy is tired of being in a cage all the time -  he's been at the shelter for his entire life!!  He loves visitors and attention of any kind, but what he would love even more is a home to finally call his own.  Please contact PAWS if you are interested in adopting, and pleeeeease share this sweet guy in the meantime. <3

I visited the PAWS Humane Society over the weekend and was instantly smitten with this young orange tabby named Gizzy.

(Photo from PAWS website)

Gizzy is estimated to be about 9 months old, and he was rescued as a small kitten.  He has a purr that is nearly deafening, and the only thing he seems to love more than cuddling is playing - he is still a kitten, after all!  Gizzy loves to bat his toys around and chase his fellow cats up and down cat trees.  He would be a wonderful, fun addition to any family...and he's quite handsome, too!

Gizzy says, "Won't you please pick me?!"

If you're interested in adopting Gizzy or would like more information, please contact the PAWS Humane Society.

Don't forget that Roxie is still available, too!  Update:  No, she's not!!  Happily, this sweet girl found her forever home over the winter! :D  Yay!

She is such a love!

Thanks for reading and sharing!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spring Has Sprung...And Mud Has Been Flung

It is starting to feel - dare I say it? - like spring outside in Iowa!  (But shh, don't acknowledge it or we might scare it away.)  The snow has finally melted, leaving only a few slushy patches in our backyard.  And poop...there's always more poop than I expect there to be buried under all that snow.  It's like the moisture causes it to multiply or something.

I'm thankful for the warmer temperatures, but I've gotta say, guys...I don't understand how spring could be anyone's favorite season.  I'm not sure what spring is like outside of the Midwest, but here, everything is dirty, moist, and brown.  (Rereading that last phrase made me gag a little bit, but I'm leaving it.)  Mud is everywhere.  And, like many mischievous dogs, Riley is loving it.

We do our best to keep him from going near muddy patches in the backyard, but here is Riley's regular routine when he goes outside:

1.  Sniff
2.  Pee on one very specific leaf
3.  Sniff the urine-soaked leaf
4.  Perk his ears at a passing car/person/bicycle/squirrel
5.  Snuffle and sniff some more
6.  Circle
7.  Circle...
8.  Circle again 
9.  Poop
10.  If he considers the passing cars/people/bicycles/squirrels to be worthy, he might try to intimidate them by scuffing dirt over his turds.  Lately he's been doing it with just pee as well.  He stares directly at whatever his target may be, then, with a smug look on his face (can a dog look smug?), digs his back legs into the ground and flings grass absolutely everywhere.  It's super awkward when his target is our next-door neighbors.  I don't think they're all that impressed with his poop-covering skills.

Riley may not succeed in intimidating anyone, but he sure does succeed in making a mess.  The ground has been disgusting and mucky, so he regularly comes inside half-covered in mud.  The pristine-looking little raincoat in the photo above has been through the wash 3 times just this past weekend!  At least it's not poop he's flinging...I don't think.  Spring makes it so hard for me to tell what's poop and what's mud!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

So You Want to Work With Animals, Part 1: There Will Be Poop

If you read this blog, you'll know that I have had several jobs that involve animals; with the exception of working in a vet's office, I have loved each of them. (Apparently I've got a weaker stomach than I thought - click the link to read about that experience!)  I've always bought into the theory that a job doesn't really feel like work if you love it, and who wouldn't love getting paid to spend time with animals?!

While working in a boarding facility, as well as being a substitute in a school district, I have encountered lots of children who would like to work with animals one day.  Of course, I do what I can to encourage this.  But there are some things I leave out when talking about careers involving animals - one thing I never mention is the sheer amount of poop.  

Best. Photobomb. Ever. (from here)

If you are easily grossed out by the sight and smell of feces...a job with animals is probably not for you.  Because there will be a lot of it.  And you will have to pick it up...or hose it down...or scrape it (cringe!) off of metal bars.  Here are some other things you should know about scoopin' poop before signing up to make it part of your job description:

The canine guests at boarding facilities often keep cleaner kennels than their shelter-bound brothers.  In general, the dogs being boarded are neater and make fewer messes.  Most are fully trained and housebroken, simply because they belong to a family.  Shelter dogs do not have that luxury - some are used to living on the street, so they don't know that they shouldn't potty in their kennel.  (This is, however, hard to determine; a shelter is a very scary environment for a dog, so they often act completely different than they would in a home - the messiest, poop-flinging dogs in the shelter could very well never have an accident in their new forever home.)

Puppy poop is in a category unto itself.  If you mention puppies to shelter employees, you might get a tired, defeated sigh in return.  Puppies are messy!  They walk in their poop, play with their poop, roll their puppy brothers and sisters into the poop.  You will have to hose those creative paintings off of the walls of the kennel, and often off of the puppies themselves.

(from here)

You won't notice the smell after a few minutes.  Very few shelters are able to afford the luxury of someone caring for the animals overnight.  Most are run by dedicated volunteers or staff members who are lucky to get a few minutes to eat lunch - these shelters generally close in the early evening, and the animals are left alone until morning.  In these hours, as you can imagine, there is poop!  My first early morning cleaning kennels, I worried that I should have brought some Vick's VapoRub to smear into my nostrils...but after a few minutes had passed and I got cleaning, I didn't even notice it.  "Smell?  What smell?"  (It was always pretty disconcerting when I neared my lunch break, though, to have my stomach rumble in hunger at the same time as I cleaned up a fresh pile.  Yuck.)

You will long for winter.  As the flies buzz around the bucket full of scooped poop and follow you to the dumpster where you hope the overstuffed trash bag won't (gag!) bump into your leg...you'll be praying for cold temperatures and snow.  Until, that is, you have to chip each turd individually from its casing of ice in order to pick it up...then you'll be wishing for summer again.

If you notice poop in a kennel, go to grab the scooper, and return to find the pile missing?  Yeah, the dog ate it.  This will happen a lot.  Just make sure you avoid any licks from that dog for the rest of the day :)

Don't worry, buddy, you're not the only one! (from here)

Sometimes, you might be impressed in spite of yourself.  Great Dane poops are big, people.  Like, really big.  (Like, take-a-picture-and-send-to-your-husband big.)  I also recall one pair of black Labs whose kennels were next to each other...overnight, they would apparently take a dump, then fling it exuberantly anywhere they could.  Into neighboring kennels, and even onto the ceiling.  I couldn't help but be amazed by their flinging skills.

If you're not too put off by the above, yay!  You just might be cut out for an animal-related career!  And listen:  the poop-scooping and all that comes with it...is totally worth it.  For every one complaint I have about working with animals, I have ten more positive things to say about it - it really is one of the most rewarding things you can do!

Share your own stories below - let's face it, everyone loves a good poop story! ;)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dirty White Dog x2!

The first picture is Riley's Pound Puppy (from PetSmart) in its bright-white, brand-new prime.  The second is the same puppy, just a day after Riley got ahold of it.  Dirty, crusty, and missing some stuffing - that's how Riley likes his toys! :)