Making a rustic industrial dog bed

What exactly is a rustic industrial dog bed? Heck if I know. I just know that the furniture theme for my sitting and dining rooms is metal + dark or reclaimed wood. The sitting room has a low window that our dog will lay in front of, on one of her pillow style beds, and stare at the outside world. I wanted to make a dog bed that fit in with the furniture in that part of the house and that wouldn’t get pushed around by the pets or the roomba. After seeing a tutorial on a keen life where they made a set of shelves from some metal plumbing pipe and wood, I knew I found the perfect materials for my dog bed. It only took me a few months to finally get all the stars to align so I could finish it, and I’ve yet to make a new cushion for it, but at least the old dog bed cushion fits reasonably well. A preview of the finished product with my dog model:

Molly looking really sad, laying on her new bed in front of the window.

Molly looking really sad, laying on her new bed in front of the window.

After I got the idea in my head, I picked up 6″ pine boards, an assortment of brackets, spray paint, and the metal pipe and fittings necessary to make a rectangular frame for the dog bed. After bringing home the metal pipe and fittings, my husband and I assembled the rectangular frame with short legs. Because the fittings all have to screw together, and we were trying to screw a rectangle of parts together, we were constantly tightening one corner while loosening another corner. Eventually we got all the fittings to loosely screw together with the plan to glue the joints later for a firmer hold. After creating the rectangle, I measured the inside of it to determine what size wood boards I needed.

After refreshing my memory on exactly how to use the table saw, I got to work cutting my pine boards to size.

After refreshing my memory on exactly how to use the table saw, I got to work cutting my pine boards to size.

Laying out the boards in to a rectangle.

Laying out the boards in to a rectangle.

 

Spray painting the brackets and screws.

I put all the screws and brackets in a shallow box and spray painted them from all angles with Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint. It took multiple coats to get all of the angles done so that no shiny silver metal was left showing.

After measuring the same length from the end of both boards, and using the brackets as a guide to mark my holes, I drilled pilot holes and then screwed in the screws.

After measuring the same length from the end of both boards, and using the brackets as a guide to mark my holes, I drilled pilot holes and then screwed in the screws.

For the corners I used L shaped brackets and for the tall sides I used flat brackets.

For the corners I used L shaped brackets and for the tall sides I used flat brackets.

After the sides were assembled, I attached the bottom with L shaped brackets that had 2 or 3 screws in a horizontal line on each side.

After the sides were assembled, I attached the bottom with L shaped brackets that had 2 or 3 screws in a horizontal line on each side.

 

A close up of the bracket varieties used.

A close up of the bracket varieties used.

 

The next step was to stain the wood.

The next step was to stain the wood.

I used Timbersoy wood stain, color walnut, from EcoProCrete that was left over from a previous project. The stain goes on thin, so I used a sponge applicator and applied multiple coats until it was as dark as I wanted. To seal the wood, I used Miss Mustard Seed Hemp Oil Wood Finish, also purchased for a different project. The oil is applied by rubbing it in with an old cloth. I used two coats for now. It gives the wood just a bit of sheen, which worked well for the look I was trying to create.

Leveling the legs.

Leveling the legs.

After that was done, I put the metal frame around the bed and used that as a guide to help make sure the short legs were straight before I glued everything in place. I used gorilla glue and a toothpick to try to force some glue into each joint. Gorilla glue expands as it dries so after I was done I had to use a box cutter to remove the excess glue from the top of the frame where it would easily be seen. It took me three tries to get all of the joints adequately glued. The next step was to spray paint the frame.

Spray painting the frame.

Spray painting the frame.

After adding the gaskets to the bottom of the metal frame, it was time to attach the frame to the wood box. I used some scrap wood to set the wood box on so that it would not be flush with the floor while I attached the brackets.

Getting the bed ready for final assembly.

Getting the bed ready for final assembly.

I used brackets that are meant to go with this pipe to attach it to the wood box. The only trouble was that the pipe doesn’t sit flush with the box because of the T and corner junctions. I improvised by using some large nuts and washers as standoffs for the brackets.

Spray painted brackets, with the washers and nuts used as standoffs to attach the wood bed to the metal frame.

Spray painted brackets, with the washers and nuts used as standoffs to attach the wood bed to the metal frame.

I also used brackets on the four short legs in case the glue didn’t completely hold in places. I used sticky rubber furniture pads on the bottom of the frame feet to keep the floor from getting scratched.

New dog bed, old dog cushion.

New dog bed, old dog cushion.

Finally, completion! A few photos of the sitting room so you can see how the new bed fits in:

A view from the foyer into the sitting and dining room.

A view from the foyer into the sitting and dining room.

The relatively new couch, coffee table, and side table with the ancient Ikea chair. Still need to replace that chair. Oh, and the dog.

The relatively new couch, coffee table, and side table with the ancient Ikea chair. Still need to replace that chair. Oh, and the dog.

 

Molly forced to be a model on her new bed.

Molly forced to be a model on her new bed.

What a rough life.

What a rough life.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Pet-proofing the Christmas tree and decorating the tree stand

Ok, so there’s really no such thing as pet-proofing a Christmas tree, but at least I can keep it from being knocked down. Our fake Christmas tree is short, only about 5 feet tall, so years ago we made a 4′ x 4′ platform about 18 inches tall to raise the bottom of the tree so that the entire tree can be seen from outside the window. After our dog and a foster dog collaborated to knock the tree off the platform one year, we quickly anchored the base of the tree to the platform using some large U shaped bolts. So now each year before we assemble the tree and put down the tree skirt, we tighten the U bolts around the three legs of the tree stand to make sure that nothing will happen to the tree laden with our precious ornaments.

This year we broke out the tree stand in our new house and I realized that the cloth covering I sewed for the stand years back no longer worked. It was designed to go on the stand when only 2 sides of the stand could be seen. Now, you can see 3 sides of the stand. I took a quick trip to Joann fabrics to pick up some white eco-fi felt to cover the stand and some decorative garland accents to make it less plain. I then cut the felt to have enough to cover the entire 4′ x 4′ top of the stand, with a bit of overlap on each side (more on the side that no one can see, since I didn’t cover that with a “skirt”). I cut rectangles of felt to hang from the top of the stand to the floor, with a bit of extra so that I could fold it over at the top. I fastened the tree stand skirts with my staple gun and then added the garland to each side, also fastening with the staple gun. We then cut the felt on the tree stand where the U bolts went though and proceeded to fasten the tree and decorate it. Now if only I could keep the cats from getting their fur all over my nice new white felt….

Overall view of the tree, tree stand, and white felt and garland used to decorate the stand.

Overall view of the tree, tree stand, and white felt and garland used to decorate the stand.

Close up view of the tree stand. You can see how the felt is simply folded over at the top and secured with a staple gun. The bottom of the felt is already wavy from cats crawling under the stand. It's amazing how difficult it is to avoid having pets in my pictures at home.

Close up view of the tree stand. You can see how the felt is simply folded over at the top and secured with a staple gun. The bottom of the felt is already wavy from cats crawling under the stand. It’s amazing how difficult it is to avoid having pets in my pictures at home.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Making natural dog chews

Every dog needs chews. I like to give them to Molly as a treat or to keep her busy and out of my way. She follows me around like she’s my shadow after all.

At some point in a fancy pet store I came across sweet potato chews and bought them. Molly loves them. I love them, except for the price. Enter my food dehydrator, purchased specifically to make Molly sweet potato chews (spoiled, I know). I finally got around to trying this out.

First, I washed the potatoes. Leaving the skin on except for the green parts and eyes, I tried to slice them about 1/2″ thick. They were very hard to slice so usually one side was thicker than the other.

After slicing 4 potatoes, I arranged the slices in the food dehydrator so that they didn’t touch.

I then dried them in the food dehydrator for about 14 hours. Next time, I think I’ll get a Mandoline slicer to make them uniform thickness.

Molly certainly approved.

     

 What’s your dog’s favorite natural treat? Molly also loves bananas and apples. She must have a sweet tooth.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Making furniture to hide those litter boxes

During the recent move to our new house, we struggled with where to put our cats’ litter boxes. At the old house we had three litter boxes for the three cats. We decided to try going down to two litter boxes in the new place. However, we weren’t excited about any potential litter box locations.

A few Google searches later and I knew there were a variety of furniture options I could purchase to hide litter boxes. I also knew that they were pricey, leading me to decide make my own. A few days of watching Craigslist and a trip to the Salvation Army later, I scored two solid wood furniture pieces that worked in our house and were big enough to conceal a litter box for about $90 total. I couldn’t even purchase an already made piece of furniture for twice that cost.  Once the furniture was home, we put in the litter boxes for a few weeks and left one of the cabinet doors open so that the cats would get used to the new digs. Probably only needed to do it for a few days, but we were still busy unpacking.

Furniture piece one: a cabinet that fit nicely by the front door and stairs.

After measuring where to put the cat sized hole –  few inches above the inside platform, centered, about 7 inches wide – I drew the lines for the hole, using a bucket to get the arch correct. I then covered the lines with masking tape and drew them again so that the wood would not splinter when we cut it.

My husband then took care of using the drill to start the hole and then the jigsaw to cut out the opening:

After finishing the whole, we removed the tape and sanded the edges.

As our cats don’t always hit their litter box target (weird, right?) We decided to line the inside of the furniture with heavy duty plastic drop cloth so that it can be cleaned / replaced as needed. I used a staple gun to hold the pieces in place. Update, 7/26/14: we’ve recently added pet pee pad lining behind the boxes in addition to the plastic for those times when the one cat misses the litter boxes. They do a pretty good job of absorbing liquid and locking in the odor.

As soon as we carried the cabinet inside and installed the clean litter box, our cat Carston make a beeline for the litter box. I couldn’t even get a photo first! It was good to know he wasn’t reluctant about trying it out. Here’s his exit:

The litter box inside, along with a litter mat to try to trap litter before the cats make it out the hole.

Now unsuspecting guests will never know what this piece of furniture is hiding by our front door. As a bonus, it’s an excellent place to store mail! Now I just need to repaint it once I settle on the colors for that part of the house and hang some art work above. Someday.

Furniture piece #2 is a rock solid low cabinet. It was obviously made by hand. It smelled strongly of patchouli when I got it home.

Following the same process, we cut a hole in the slide a few inches above the inner platform, lined it with plastic and swapped out the gold knobs for brushed nickel knobs left over from our bathroom renovation at the old house.

Here it is inside. It’s so roomy we could probably put two boxes inside.

It’s positioned just below the window that looks on to our back porch, a perfect kitty sitting spot. The exit faces our fireplace so it’s concealed from the rest of the living room. I plan to either strip and re-stain this cabinet darker or paint it to match our living room. I would like to get cushions to put on top so that it acts as a people sitting bench in addition to a kitty sitting bench. Again, someday.

Mojo and Carston say it’s perfect for gazing out the window:

The cats have been using their new litter box cabinets with the holes in the side for more than a week now. We’ve happily noticed a that these cabinets do a decent job of containing unpleasant odors and the cats are more than happy to use them. Hooray!

What kind of furniture finds have you repurposed for your pets?

Dear cats, stop stealing my coasters!

I have a set of coasters that are made of felted wool (knitted by me of course). They are very absorbent and make great coasters. They also attract cats like crazy. In the middle of the night, one of our cats steals the felted wool coasters and leaves them on the floor in the hallway.

Using a multi-colored wool yarn that had been given to me as a gift, I recently knitted up a rectangle and felted it.  Felting rarely turns out a perfect square, so I had to trim the edges to make a coaster.

I rolled up the extra felted material, added a bow and call my creation a cat toy. So, dear cats, stop stealing my coasters!

How to heal dog paws / make your dog sad

How to heal dog paws / make your dog sad: Apply bag balm to affected areas of pads. Cover with a sock. Wrap tape around top of sock to hold it on. Watch as your dog gives you sad eyes.

Our 50 pound dog has little tiny paws. They are also very sensitive. When we go for long walks or runs on rough ground, she often ends up peeling parts of her pads off and then limps around for a week while they heal. I think it also happens when she runs for too long on hot concrete. In order to help them heal and to keep her from continuing to chew on them, I use the above method to protect her paws for a few days. It happens so often that I purchased little kids socks to use. I also use paw wax to help protect them so that this doesn’t happen, but often I can’t predict when they will become sore.

A friendship 10 years in the making

Ten years ago today, a very special kitten was born. Her name is Annie. Some 9 weeks after her birth, she adopted me on a hot summer day when I went into the Cuyahoga County Humane Society in Cleveland with a friend. As I walked by her cage, she reached her paw out at me so we stopped. My friend Deanna picked her up and we didn’t put her back down until after I completed the adoption forms, complete with a phone call to my father by the Humane Society to make sure I could bring home a kitten.  This would be the last time that Annie allowed me to carry her around willingly.

We dropped by the pet store and then ended up at my Dad’s house. As she played with us in the yard, we noticed that her spay incision appeared to be infected. I called the Humane Society who instructed me to bring her to the vet the next morning. That day she took a nap on my chest while I laid on the couch. This would also be the last time she ever napped on me while I wasn’t asleep.

At the vet the next day, I was informed that she was lucky I took her home when I did because she couldn’t have survived much longer with that infection.

When my Mom met Annie her exact words were “she’s homely, isn’t she?”. She’s the small one in the photo meeting my sister’s cat Spunky.  Luckily, her coat quickly grew in much nicer and she turned into a gorgeous kitty.

She moved between my parent’s houses with me that summer and then accompanied me to Oxford for my final year at Miami University. My roommate didn’t know what to think about cats at that time and now she has two herself.

Annie’s kittenhood was awesome. She loved her “mice babies”, to attack my plants, she could climb a ladder up into my crazy lofted bed, she regularly slept in the bathroom sink and she always helped me with my homework.  She would patiently ride in the car back and forth between my parent’s houses and Miami which was a four hour drive.

Annie and her “mice babies”:

Annie distracting me from homework:

Annie says this is cat torture:

After I graduated, she moved with me to Austin, riding shotgun in my Ford Focus while my Dad and sister drove my Dad’s truck with a trailer. She handled the drive well and quickly settled in to our new apartment.

We lived out a peaceful year in our apartment except for two things. The first was the introduction of my future husband in to her life. She didn’t really like to share me. The second was a tiny little kitten I rescued from the incredibly hot HEB parking lot. Annie was not amused and even though I had that kitten for no more than a week before finding her a home, Annie started licking a bald spot in the middle of her belly.

After that year, we moved in with a roommate who also had a female cat name Charlotte.  Annie and Charlotte were OK friends but Annie continued to make her bald spot larger.

A view of the bald belly:

Annie and Charlotte tolerating one another:

After another year, I knew I would graduate soon but wasn’t sure what I would do after that so I moved in with my future husband and his cat Carston.  For some reason, Annie hated Carston. When not lounging on the outside porch she was busy licking more fur off, laying on top of the fridge or picking fights with Carston.

Oh the disdain:

Trapping Carston:

The next change in our lives was moving into our current house with the two cats in tow. Throughout all the changes, Annie remained my faithful friend, purring herself to sleep next to me every night. I think she thought better of it the day I brought home a puppy.  Molly, the puppy, was a crazy crazy puppy. The cats thought she was the most ridiculous thing ever. She would chase them. Carston would simply run away but Annie would jump up on to some furniture and then give Molly the loudest thump on the head you could imagine. It was really unfortunate that a vet talked me into having Annie’s claws removed as a kitten.

You can’t tell, but they’re both staring at the puppy:

Annie is confused about who goes in the dog crate:

Eventually Molly grew up and the cats became friends with her, even rubbing on her legs occasionally. The parade of foster dogs I helped find homes for weren’t the idea of fun to our cats. Soon after adopting Molly we found a homeless old cat with cancer that we took in. Luckily he was too old and senile to want to pester the other cats.

Annie says she’s going with us:

After my promise to my husband to stop fostering dogs and the death of the old cat (Buddy, we called him) I quickly adopted another kitten. Annie was incredulous. So incredulous in fact, she finally stopped licking her fur off (parts of her legs were bare by now) and it started growing back.  To this day she puts up a good show of hating Mojo, our new cat, but in secret I think she really likes him.

Mojo and Carston have fun:

Mojo and Molly become friends:

Annie decides she can share the dog bed with Mojo:

Even now, Annie still adores me. When she’s awake, she follows me around. When I sleep, she is almost always touching me. At 10, she still goes crazy for catnip filled toys. I’m glad she chose me.

Annie enjoys a cat bed I made:

The cats laugh at the dog getting her holiday photo taken:

Only to be tortured themselves: