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Handmade Cat Adoption Card

february 6th 077Celebrate a life saving event!

I just finished this card and I am really excited about how it turned out.  Adopting a cat from a shelter is a life saving event, why not celebrate it ?!

I used plain recycled card stock to get this card started.  I stained the base card stock with an Antique Bronze Distress Stain and then painted it (dry brushed) with a blue acrylic paint.  It gives the paper the look of something completely unique and handmade (you can see it in the last picture below that shows the inside of the card).  I used some sweet paper I had in my studio with “Happily Ever After” all over it that I stained and distressed on the edge.

I drew a simple cat sillouhette and painted it with a super heavy gesso to get the textured look (let this dry overnight) and then painted it with bronze acyrilic paint and dry brushed with blue acrylic.

I added some simple embellishments (that I painted to match my color theme); ribbon, flower and heart.

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The inside of the card is a cream card stock that I distressed and slightly stained (on the edges).  It reads; “Some of the world’s greatest LOVE stories began at the local shelter”.

The card was inspired by my own rescue cats who I couldn’t love more; Taco, Jasmine and Catzilla.

If you don’t like making cards I do have some of these available on my ETSY shop:

Rescue On!


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Fun Valentine Craft for the Pet Lover!

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Quick and easy gift for a pet loving friend.

I wanted to make some quick handmade items for all the sweet people in my life for Valentines Day. This is one of the item I decided to make.  I use regular old clothes pins to make these.

february 6th 001  The basic items you need are clothes pins, ribbon, magnets and acrylic paint.   I painted all the clothes pins first.  I typically use a slightly better paint than craft paint when I make a project as I find it covers faster and looks nicer longer but craft paint will work fine too.  I had several spools of paw print ribbon in my studio – you can use any ribbon, just make sure its the width of the clothes pin.  When the paint was dry I glued the ribbon to the pins with tacky glue.  I applied ribbon on both side of the pin but just doing the front would be fine too.

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I wanted small hearts on the front of my clothes pins.  I buy bulk bags of small wooden hearts.  I painted them red, stamped them with paw prints and then sprayed them with ModPodge pearlized glaze.  You could use any type of sealer but I like the shimmer of this glaze.  I glued the hearts on to the pins with Beacon’s 3 in 1 – it is a wicked smelly glue but it is a very strong hold.

I finished them off with a large magnet on the back so these clips can be used as refrigerator magnets but they have functionality without magnets too.

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I made a few different styles of these.  The skulls were for me …why not?  The snowflakes for my mom.


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Cold weather ideas for dog play!

Well, here we go with another multi-day cold snap in Minnesota – thought it made sense to re-post my cold weather play ideas…stay warm!

Keeping dogs busy in cold weather

I am a stay at home dog mom so fun and exercise are a big part of our day.  We love our walks at the park but living in Minnesota means there are times (in winter and summer) when it just isn’t safe to take the dogs outside for any extended period of time.  Because a cold snap in Minnesota can last for many days (ok, it can be weeks) I have to get creative to keep the dogs busy inside.    Given we have already had an incredibly cold start to the winter it seemed like a good idea to share some of our ideas!  I don’t know about your dogs but mine will only get as excited about an activity as I am …the more fun I seem to be having the more they want to participate in activities with me.

#1)  We play HIDE and SEEK

This is hands down the most fun and the best exercise.   Hide and Seek is also a great way to be practicing basic commands (stay and come).  Because we have a four dog household right now it really takes both of us (me and husband) to play this game.  One of us hides and the other seeks with the dogs.    The hider always has really small size rewards for everyone when they finish a game.   The one who seeks with the dogs keeps them in a “sit, stay” until the hider yells “come”.   We can play just four or five rounds of hide and seek and the dogs will be pooped out.  We even have one cat who always joins in when we play this.  We use the whole house when we play and get them really excited – it is so fun to see their excitement when they find daddy!  The dogs all crash for a nap after this game.  We usually play for about 20 minutes at a time.

#2) We make dinner a game

When we have long days cooped in the house I make meal time an activity for the dogs.  I use food puzzles ( pictured below) to make their dinner a physical and mental excercise.  My favorite food game is the Buster Cube because it gets them moving around so much.  I have used these with all of my dogs with success.  Some of my dogs figure out food puzzles right away (the labs) others I have to patiently help them along until they figure it out on their own.  When I give my dogs food games – I SUPERVISE.  I make a cup of coffee and sit in the room to make sure no one’s food puzzle gets stuck anywhere and to manage any misunderstandings about who is supposed to playing with what game.

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#3) Indoor Agility

I have agility equipment for my dogs.  It is just for fun as none of them are/were competitive agility dogs.  The equipment I have is inexpensive, light weight and easy to use.  I bring it in the house for the winter (and in the summer heat) and we play; jumping through hoops, running through the tunnel, etc.  This does require a big room and/or furniture moving but it is worth it to see them having fun.  My dogs don’t interact with the equipment unless I do.  I get excited and use their basic commands to achieve little things with the equipment.  I try to keep the equipment in a room that is carpeted (or put down area rugs while we play) to avoid any slipping incidents on hard surface floors.

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#4) Train them to do activities that give them exercise

My favorite game to get the dogs moving is called “In the basket”.   I came up with this years ago when I got really tired of picking toys up after my dogs.  I have a lab whose idea of fun is to just pull every toy out of the toy box and scatter it around the house for me to clean up later.  Since my dogs have a lot of toys picking up after them gets old quick.  To combat this I trained them to pick up their own scattered toys and place them “in the basket” (I use a laundry basket).  They get a reward for putting them in the “basket”.   This can go on for quite some time, I just keep re-tossing the toys out of the basket.  I train my dogs with a clicker (my labs and my pom when he could still hear).  To train activities like this I will use the clicker to capture a behavior that I want them to repeat, even if I have to manipulate it, in this case putting a basket right under their noses when they have a toy and marking the exact moment they drop the toy in the basket with my clicker.  My Lhasa has no patience for training with a clicker (or otherwise).  She figures out activities like this (eventually) by watching the other dogs.

#5) Long lasting snacks

My dogs get a snack every afternoon.  When we are cooped up I prepare packed full frozen Kongs for snack time.  I pack them with items like peanut butter, applesauce, bananas, mashed sweet potatoes, meatballs, cooked oatmeal, etc. and stick them in the freezer in the morning – Kongsicles can keep the dogs busy for an hour.

#6) DIY Grooming

I do all my own dog grooming.  With a seven pet household I would be broke if I had to pay a groomer.  Grooming takes energy for the dogs.  For my small dogs – they go what we call the “wet crazies” when they get out of the bath – sprinting around the house all crazy like – we of course egg them on and have a good time with them – but they are pooped after a bath.  My pets are used to grooming enough that they don’t fuss too badly but it still takes time and energy for them.  When its cold out grooming takes particularly long because they need to be dried with a pet drier.  It is a nice way for them to get a lot of attention from me and they usually lay down and nap for a few hours after it’s all over.  I learned grooming techniques from books and videos and by asking lots of questions at the vet.  Grooming my own dogs takes a lot of patience and work on my part but it is very rewarding and I love the one on one time with each dog.  I pasted pictures of the three books I used to learn about grooming, they were all still available on Amazon but are certainly not new releases.  Their are also a lot of free resources available online to learn about grooming.   I have a lot of links to sites and videos for grooming on my Pet Grooming Pinterest Board.


#7) Trick training or something they like

I have some dogs that love trick training and some that have absolutely no interest (my Lhasa).  For those that like it, we have a blast learning silly tricks.  I use a clicker to train behaviors – there are endless books available on different tricks you can teach your dogs.  For my Lhasa, I play tug tug with her as she seems to see trick training as beneath her.

#8)  Fetch/Keep Away

I have some dogs that love fetch and some that have no interest.  In the house it can be a risk to household damage so we usually play keep away instead.  My husband and I will toss the ball back and forth to each other, the dogs may get the balls but we don’t let it go uncontrolled around the house.

#9) Practice the stuff that matters

I am the type of person that likes to see my dogs just being dogs.  It’s not important to me that they are perfectly groomed, are sport champs or know fancy tricks, etc.  But there are a few things that are really important to me; 1) that they have  solid recall (“come” command)  and 2) that they know better than to walk out a door with out me.  We practice these two skills a lot and I use the days we are stuck inside to take advantage of this.  My dogs tend to follow me around the house all day.  When I leave the room, not all the time of course but sometimes, I leave them in a “stay” until I reach another part of the house and give them the “come” command.   It gives us a chance to practice the command that can save their lives and for them to do a little running around the house.  The other thing we practice is doorbell etiquette.  I have no problem with my dogs getting all excited when the door bell rings, in fact  I like it.  However, once the door is opened they need to be able to hold a “sit stay” no matter what.  This keeps them from jumping on guests and more importantly from bolting out the door.  I have adopted two rescues that were runners so this has been a particularly important skill for us to master.  Control at the doorbell doesn’t happen by magic but only with a lot of practice (particularly when you have four dogs).  I have a remote control door bell that I use for practice so I can ring the doorbell from anywhere in the house.  We practice going to the door and having manners (staying in a sit) when the door is open.  They get a lot of praise and a small treat for good behavior at the door.  They seem to have fun and appreciate the attention and excitement.

#10)  Massages

My dogs line up for their massages.  It is a good way to get them calmed down at night and it is also a good way for me to be aware of any changes; lumps and bumps or sores, that may be occurring on their body.  They all have their favorite spots for a rub down.


My dogs love field trips.  They know either they are going to the park or they are going to get a special treat.  When I take my dogs on field trips I usually only take one of them – it’s their turn for one on one time with me.  I do not leave my dogs in the car under any circumstances when I take them with me.  Besides the weather risks of being too hot or too cold in a car, my dogs simply do not like to be left alone in the car so I don’t do it.  So when I say I take them on a field trip it means that I am taking them somewhere that either doesn’t involve us getting out of the car – say a bank deposit (drive thru) which always means they get a treat from the teller or it means I am taking them somewhere they can go – like a friends house, park, vet clinic (a supply run) or pet stores.  When the weather is inclement I make a point of taking special trips that are more for their sake then mine.  A walk around the pet store is a whirl of scent stimulation for a dog- it doesn’t have to cost much (I always buy something – usually just a few treats from the treat bar or a few cans of kitty food for the shelter collection basket).

A lot of our activities in the house will include using tiny size treats for the dogs to reward them for a job well done (not always – sometimes praise is good enough) but given the increased amount of food rewards we cut down the size of their dinners a bit to compensate.  Particularly with our senior dogs we try to be diligent about keeping them at a healthy weight.  I hope some of these ideas are helpful for you!

On the journey,

Nancy H., The Rescue Mama

tips for bad weather

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Satisfying a dogs need to chew – BEST DEALS – CET Enzymatic Chews

My first dog was a Rottweiler named Hercules; he was an awesome dog but his need to chew was no joking matter.  If I didn’t provide him with an appropriate item for his chewing enjoyment at least once a day he would chew other things – like the walls of my house (no kidding).

Herc in the pool

I took the chewing issue to my vet as I didn’t feel informed about all the items sold in pet stores for chewing and we had a few bad experiences with some of them.

I wanted a dog chew that was (1) safe for my dog to chew (well as a safe as a chew can be) (2) wouldn’t make a big mess when the dog chewed it (or smell bad) and (3) was affordable.

cet chews

My vet introduced me to the CET Enzymatic chews by Virbac.    CET’s are beefhide that is treated with an enzyme that helps with plaque build up on the dogs teeth.  For our immediate needs at the time, a Rottie with a chew fettish,  the benefit for Hercules’ dental hygiene was a side-perk – we were just looking for a decent “chew” option.   Over 10 years later CET chews are the only chews I use with all of my dogs (they have been a good tool for all my dogs …Rottweiler to the Pomeranian).

For a chew, keeping in mind all chewing items carry risk for a dog, I have had minimal issues with my dogs choking or digesting these chews.  I do have a 12 year old black lab that is a really aggressive chewer that will sometimes gag a little on the chew (gross I know but he manages it himself – it has never turned in to a choking incident).  I will say, even after all these years, I supervise my dogs when they have chews – there is always the possibility of a choking incident with any chew.   My dogs have not have experienced any digestive upset from the CET chews – even my chocolate lab with a hyper-sensitive stomach.  The upside is that these chews also really do seem to help keep the dogs teeth clean.

My second criteria for a chew was that it didn’t make a mess all over the house when it was soaked with doggy saliva.  (I learned the hard way that some dog chews will stain your carpet – sure makes ya wonder what it’s doing to the dogs tummy too).   I will notice tiny little wads of the CET chew stuck to the carpet after the labs finish their chews.  The little wads do clean up easy (manual pick up – even my Dyson doesn’t get them) but there is no staining or discoloration of my carpet from the chews.  The CET chews don’t smell bad either.

The final criteria for a chew was that it was affordable.  CET Chews are actually quite expensive – especially if you have multiple dogs like we do.  Historically, I had always purchased the CET Chews at the vet office and would subsequently have a nose bleed after I wrote the check for them.  The good news is that they are becoming more widely available and the price is coming down.

The purpose for this post is to share the history I have had with these chews and to highlight the best deal I have found on them which is on the American Diabetes Wholesale website.   I pasted the link to the site here .  I purchase the chews in 5 Packs which gets me 56% off the retail price.  If your order is over $100.00 the shipping from them is free.  This works for well for us as I typically order multiple 5 packs and the Virbac toothpaste at the same time to take advantage of the free shipping.  My experience with their service so far has been good – they process the order the same day and the shipping is fast and free.  I have recently noticed a slightly better price for the CET Chews on another site,  They have a sale price that is almost $1/bag lower than American Diabetes Wholesale (as of 4/24) and they offer free shipping on orders over $85.00.  I did call them to see if this was a permanent sale price or temporary sales price and they did say it was probably a temporary sale price but its worth checking this site out too.  I  do not have any experience ordering from this company yet.

I hope you find this “BEST DEAL” post helpful.  I am NOT a paid spokesman for any product or website mentioned on this page and I don’t write product reviews on any pet items unless I have had years of experience with multiple breeds interacting with the product.  I am simply sharing our experiences in the hope we can help others with the learning curve on caring for their pets.  I will close this post with a reminder that all chew items carry a risk for a dog – when I hand out  chews to our dogs I make a cup of coffee or tea and sit down and relax with the dogs while they enjoy their treat.

As always, the first stop for any questions about a pet’s care for us will always be our veterinarian.