Thursday, 17 September 2009

One old bathrobe = dog coat & training dummy

I put my back out splitting firewood this week. Thankfully the chiropractor righted it for me this morning, and now it's just sore muscles. My body is reminding me that I'm about to turn 40. Add that to my own poor judgement - using a heavy splitting maul when an axe would do - and hey presto, ice packs and no heavy work for a couple days.

So I've been doing odd jobs and making lists of things I need to do once my muscles stop yelling at me. With shoot season upon us, and the prospect of wet and cold weather, I thought about that old bathrobe I saved. I was about to recycle it when I thought, I bet you could make a simple dog coat out of that. Turns out you can, here's how:

1. Find a willing dog that will stand still long enough, and is the right size(ish)

2. Cut the arms off the robe. If you cut neatly just past the join, you won't have to hem. Put the dog's front legs through the armholes like so-

3. Check that you can pull each side of the robe closed over the front of the dog's chest, enough that you can put a good size piece of velcro there as a front fastener. Check when the dog is stood up and sat down that it's not too tight.

4. Get the dog to stand up and fold the bottom half of the robe up over the dog so it covers the kidneys but doesn't drag - 5. Now cut off all that material folded over the dog's back. Leave a little extra if you want to hem it and neaten it up.

6. Now cut along the sides so they aren't dragging on the ground. Again, leave a bit extra length if you want to hem it. Be careful you don't cut through the arm holes. It should look like this -

7. Take the belt that came with the bathrobe and feed it back though the belt loops. Wrap it once around the dog, quite loosely. Leave a 3-5 inch overlap and mark it with a pin. This is where you'll put another velcro fastener -

8. You can hem the edges if you wish. I used some iron-on hemming tape. Add the velcro strips to the front and to the belt. Done. Instant dog coat, and I saved myself £35.

I'm out of velcro so I can't show you the finished coat, but I will post a picture when it's done.

Besides terrycloth/towelling coats, you can by dry bags - essentially a towel bag you zip your dog into and only the head is poking out:

The bags keep your car clean, which I think is their main selling point. We have one and have tried it, but ended up with a writhing spaniel chewing its way out. I find the coats easier to use and I can put them on a dog while we're having lunch and let them walk around to help keep warm and limber.

While I had the iron-on hemming tape I remembered I needed a training dummy for the puppy. She's just starting to show interest in retrieving things. Mike has lots of tubifast leftover from his hospital visits. I used an arm-length section of tubifast and sealed one end with the tape. Then I rolled up one of the sleeves I cut from the bathrobe into a sausage shape and put it inside, and sealed up the other end. Puppy tried it out:Perfect! Just the right size, not too heavy, good mouth feel and it smells of her family. Later I can put some pheasant feathers and such in it to get her used to the smell of quarry.

It's especially cathartic to take objects associated with our difficult time in the hospital last year - Mike's robe and the tubifast he wore to protect his arms - and turn them into something life affirming like our relationship with our dogs.

1 comment:

Poppy Cottage said...

I'm just thinking of who I would even get Lily in that dry bag leat alone attempt to keep her in it once said dog was in place!!

Why don't you knit the dogs leg warmers as well??


Oh yes you poor thing nearly 40, I am thinking of you whilst I am still the tender age of 36 (for a few more hours!!)