Category Archives: pets

Doggy Dreams of Christmas: Hip Pet Bed DIY and Easy Dog Biscuits Recipe

There are 101 reasons to begin the Christmas prep odyssey with a little pet project. Our ‘old soul’ doggie is giving us so much unconditional love every day, there’s almost no more need to stencil ‘’Relax, You’re Home’’ on the walls anymore. And yet, let’s be honest, most of the times we are so much smitten by the Christmas frenzy, we barely have time to buy our pet an (often rancid) commercial treat or a stupid stuffed reindeer antlers with sparks (that would never light up, but everyone would be too busy to notice).

And so the doggy dreams that one Christmas it would be different and there will be home-made cookies and a new comfy bed, and the antlers will fly into the garbage…

This year wouldn’t probably be any different for her if I wouldn’t have had a ‘déjà vu’ experience when shopping for a pet food at Target last weekend.  This moment has led to a new gorgeous pet bed light bulb DIY project and these succulent treats our doggie can’t get enough of. Both are super-fun to make alone or with kids.

It’s Saturday morning; I’m at the Target’s pet section screening the shelves for weight control IAMS food.  My peripheral vision suddenly spots a HUGE (70%) special on hot Boots & Barkley pet duvets of a very refreshing contemporary design (as opposed to kitsch, granny or poop-looking designs we usually find in pet sections – I always wonder what kind of people design the dog beds and covers): at least 5-6 varieties in small, medium, large and ex-large sizes. One of them has this rare whimsical Christmas-y print of doggie treats on it.

In a flash, I remember: a year ago I was passing by this duvet thinking: ’It’s a pity I just bought that dreary checkered pet bed in Costco (because of the BUDGET (always that word) – but this one looks so much more festive and elegant, not to mention the colors would be perfect fit for our lady doggie…’ Then, of course, the thought was swept away by hundreds of other thoughts until now that I saw this print again for almost free. I just can’t pass by it. I buy the extra-large pet bed cover along with leak-proof undercover, both, for less than $10. No matching pet beds are left in stock, and so I bring these covers home thinking that eventually I will find a bed to fit them on (What am I thinking? It’s an almost impossible mission).

Next morning I have the light bulb moment: I will recycle the old pillows instead of tossing them and will stuff the new covers with them!

I take a pair of scissors: cut a few old pillows, take the stuffing out (I’m talking about the polyester pillow form and/or micro beads, not duvet or cotton); fill the new waterproof undercover bag with them, zip and finish with my heart- throb quirky two-sided cover. Viola, no stitching, sweating or spending… Just RECYCLE, RECYCLE, RECYCLE and my new designer print pet bed is ready in 5 minutes.  Isn’t it awesome? Plus, you can control the thickness (making it really luxurious). 

All you need to make this cool, comfy and good looking pet bed are:

          two pet bed duvets (undercover and the top plush ‘n print) cover, both washable ($10);
          one to three old pillows polyester stuffing  in foam or pellets;
          pair of scissors

A power of three (speedy, recycled, on the budget) makes us hungry to start the day. The doggie crashes happily into her new nook. OH, she glows in this bed, dreaming about the obvious…  

We are off to make our Sunday brunch B&B (bacon and beans) holiday staple and declare the holidays begun.  While cooking bacon, another great pet idea comes by: use bacon drippings to make holiday pet biscuits (along with, naturally, some healthier ingredients including: rolled oats, peanut butter, flax seed oil for that shiny coat, etc.).  Later at night we improvise with baking ingredients and deliver these aromatic treats within an hour or so.  

We proudly take the first bite ourselves. Biscuits taste pretty good and crunchy, and can easily pass for the Medieval times luxurious treat. Which means laby’s gonna be happy. As a matter of fact, she is already here banging her giant tail off the wall in anticipation.

While I’m busy taking these pictures, she comes by quietly, pretending she is a ghost, grabs one biscuit from a side (hopefully unnoticed) and trots to the other side of the kitchen drooling like a rabid beast. Then her eyes close; her head stretches up to keep the drool; the crunch breaks the silence and the treat disappears in a split second. After, she retires peacefully next to her new alcove as if nothing happened.

Needless to say, that’s a NO-GO we usually don’t practice. We both know that despite her Mona Lisa smile and heavy tail wagging, she is doomed for the ‘Denver’s’ moment:

Followed, naturally, by a ‘doggie now deserves another one’ in about one hour.

And that’s it for today. The Target special is still on (and NO, they didn’t pay me to write this column) in Montreal area (and most probably the rest of Canada) if you liked this DIY idea. 

2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for rolling out)
1 cup rolled oats
1 1/3 cups of water
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp flax seed oil
½ cup bacon drippings at room temperature
½ tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix flour and rolled oats in a big bowl. Pour one cup of water and mix well to blend. Add peanut butter, honey, flax seed oil and bacon drippings and mix well. Add the rest of the water gradually.  Spread ½ of flour on a rolling surface, work the dough adding more flour if necessary and roll it into ¼ inch thick sheet. Cut the desired cookie shapes with a cookie cutter.  Transfer cookies to the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 45-50 minutes.  Let cool. Store biscuits in cookie jar or plastic container for up to 3 weeks.

Yellow Lab Rescues Blue Jay Chick

Although bird watching is widely considered to be a fascination of ”old fogies”, our admiration of birds began much earlier, with our first bird feeder. Suppose you are in your backyard and suddenly a red cardinal flies in or a blue jay comes to grab a peanut, how can you not forget everything and just freeze for a moment watching these amazing creations of nature? We are fairly new to the bird watching ”buena vista”, but a pair of grandpa’s binoculars helps.
This year a couple of blue jays decided to make a nest in our backyard. They made their nest in the pine tree branches, about 12+ feet above ground. The nest looks like a bulky cup made of twigs, leaves, roots, grass and moss. An interesting courtship-mating fact I dug out about blue jays: in early May generally a group of seven or more are gathered together on top of a pine tree. One female is among this group. When the female flies off, the males follow and land near her, bobbing their heads up and down, until the female eventually selects a mate and the nesting cycle follows. Only one or two broods are raised each season.
The jay couple seemed to be successfully going through their cycle until Sunday night when a piercing squeak woke us up at 2:30 AM. At around 6AM blue jays shrill chorus resumed with a triple force pushing me out of bed to close the windows to finally have some restful sleep (these birds are really called ”the biggest mouth” for a reason).
In the morning our nosy lab-doggie retrieved something under the pine tree and barked us up. A little squeaky jay birdie was sitting in the grass screaming for help. Cute and fluffy winged (although it did have something from a little vulture), it was good enough to jump, but not ready to fly. Its parents-jays were watching it from a pine tree. ”So this is what all that noise was about!”, I figured.
 At least it made it through the night – there are quite a few predators in our neighborhood including savage cats, ravenous crows, stinky skunks, voracious pekans, slimy snakes and even a hungry red fox sometimes coming from the fields.
We had to figure out a rescue plan fast. Despite the urban legend (about touching the baby bird), we agreed that the best was probably to return the baby jay to its nest. The nest was pretty high and required a ladder and some ingenuity. Once placed back in the nest, the baby jay instantly fell asleep. We watched the nest from a distance for a while just to confirm that the parent bird returns. It took a good several hours. Finally, the blue jay parent arrived with the worm in her mouth and went straight into the nest to feed the baby (by that time the baby bird was squeaking again). A blue jay family was happily reunited. This successfully unveils the myth that birds will reject babies handled by humans.
We were happy to help little chick and our doggie became a hero. The parent blue jay came to thank her personally and I think she acknowledged it. We had a good laugh about our panic which filled us with joy and reminded us that: ”The past is history, the future is a mystery, but today is a gift, that’s why it’s called ”the present.”
The end.