Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Furminator

For years Tom and I anticipated the day that we would be settled into a house with a yard so that we could welcome a dog into our home. In Chicago we lived on the 3rd floor of a walk up, had a great roof top deck, but no yard. In Minnesota we get the yard but decided after a month straight of below freezing temps that domestic animals should remain indoors from October to March. So off to S. California we go and after living in a townhouse for almost 3 years we were ready for our house with a yard. Or as they are more commonly referred to here, patches of grass.

We decided on a Golden Retriever as Tom grew up with them his whole life and loved them dearly. His mother was involved with the Golden Retriever Rescue chapter back in Illinois and had welcomed many into to her home to rehabilitate for permanent placement. She also bred and trained Golden's for Canine Companions which provides assistance dogs to people with disabilities. So a Golden it was going to be. We had always checked the Sunday paper for Golden litters in the area and then did more online research to ensure we were dealing with a reputable breeder. Initially I wanted to get an older dog as I wasn't sure I would be able to handle the difficult puppy months (more like years?) and of course I am an animal rescue advocate (who isn't) but we also had to take into account our other 4 legger, Chumley. So after careful thought and consideration we believed it would be a good idea to start with a puppy who could better adapt to Chumley's rage and psychotic outbursts. Our pup would just think that all cats are deranged lunatics! But we also figured it would be a good opportunity to test our patience level and nurturing skills.

So a couple weeks after we settle into our home we find a breeder in Riverside, about an hour and a half away. She posts photos of her recent litter on her website and that's when we see Bear, known now as our Wrigley Bear. The name fits because he looked like a stuffed teddy bear. We fall in LOVE with him over the internet so Tom asks me to call the breeder and find out some more information. The breeder, Nancy and I talk for an hour. We instantly hit it off and I tell her that we are interested in a particular pup we spotted on her website. She then tells me that a woman is coming to take Bear (also after seeing him online) but assured me that we'd fall in love with any of her pups and to come out and take a look. So feeling a bit disappointed, I call Tom at work and he says, "I'm on my way." Then off we go to Riverside...just to look.

Nancy greets us outside and tells us that Bear did not find a home today. The woman who came to pick him up had decided that he had such a fuzzy coat, one of the fuzziest she's ever seen and that she knew he would be quite a shedder so she opted for a pup with less fluff. I thought to myself, "That's a silly reason. How bad can it be?"

It's been 9 months now and this dog has undercoats, overcoats, topcoats, it's never ending. The fur above is just from this evening's combing and I could still comb gobs more but my arm was getting tired. I wish there was a way to recycle all this fur into something useful. Maybe we could use it as insulation for our freezing house. But thankfully, we've discovered The Furminator which is a wonder tool for furry pets. We also have one in a smaller size for Chumley but after one attempt I've realized it's not worth losing an eye ball to try and Furminate the cat.

1 comment:

Christina Shaver said...

Girlfriend, you CAN recycle Wrigley's hair!!!! You like knitting, right?

Knitting and crocheting have seen resurgence and are a way to create special gifts and garments. Today, there are more varieties of yarns than ever, made from wool, alpaca fur, hemp, silk, cotton, and many synthetic materials. Novelty yarns have also become extremely popular, creating all sorts of textures and effects. It is even possible to make yarn out of your dog's fur.

Most yarn made from natural fibers is made from animal fur, hair, or fleece. Cashmere is made from the hair on a goat's stomach, wool from a sheep, and angora from rabbit fur. Although some people might shy away from the idea of wearing a garment made with dog fur yarn, it's a good way to remember or honor a special pet, while making a beautiful keepsake or item of clothing.

Most pets nowadays have a comfortable life, with good nutrition, health care, and adequate shelter. All these components improve the quality of their fur. Many varieties of cats and dogs have an undercoat that spins well, is soft, and extremely warm. Unless you have many cats, however, it will take some time to collect enough cat fur for spinning. Dogs are generally larger than cats, and therefore have more surface area and more fur to shed.

When you decide you want to make yarn out of your dog's fur, you first need to begin collecting it. As you brush your dog, save the fur that comes out and is caught in the brush. Make sure you store the fur correctly; fur must be completely dry before storing, and be stored hung up, in a dry, open, light space, to prevent moths from laying eggs in the fur. An old pillowcase is the perfect receptacle for your fur. Dogs have different lengths of hair and longer hair will be more successful in creating yarn out of your dog's fur.

The amount of fur you need depends on what type of project you want to knit or crochet. Hats, mittens, and socks each take about 4 ounces (113 g) of fur. A scarf may take about 10 ounces (283 g) of fur, and a sweater around 42 ounces (1.2 kg) of your dog's fur. This depends, of course, on the size of the object to be created, and the thickness of the yarn to be made.

The next step in making yarn out of your dog's fur is to spin the yarn. This can be done yourself, with a spinning wheel, or by a number of yarn companies which will make yarn out of your dog's fur for a fee. These companies can be easily found online.

The advantage to using a professional to make yarn out of your dog's fur is that they will not only spin the fur into yarn but will wash it, condition it, and usually treat it with special enzymes that will prevent the "wet dog" smell or any other unpleasant odor.

Once you have created yarn out of your dog's fur, you can use it to knit or crochet almost any project. You will need to make sure that the yarn is strong enough for the project you have in mind, as well as being the right texture and warmth. You will have a beautiful handmade item that is close to your heart in no time.