10/26/2012 | By: Kristy Creighton

Shona Skye Goes to the Dogs! (Facts & A Tutorial!)


If you know me or have noticed the plethora of pictures and links scattered around the side columns of my blog, you know I'm a big advocate for animal welfare and promoting adoption and rescue over shopping the pet stores that are frequently stocked by puppy mills. I want to share some facts today that are very near and dear to my heart, plus share a DIY tutorial for dog toys that my daughter's Girl Scout troop made to donate to Open Door Animal Sanctuary, our local no-kill animal shelter that the troop volunteers for during the Season of Giving. And these four are a few of the reasons why this issue is so near and dear to my heart:



From left to right, that's our Django (pronounced JANG-go), Gypsy, Abbey, and Jasper - my fur babies! Two are rescues and the twins were purchased from a reputable breeder that we drove 200+ miles to meet with. Yep, 200 miles!

In fact, Shona Skye Creations is named, in part, for one of the loves of my life:
Me and my beloved Shona
1998-2009
Now I spoil my dogs like crazy. Just in doing some extra research for this post, I got completely sidetracked by about a half dozen things I want to get for my babies (like dog beds that look like a baseball and pepperoni pizza - how cool is that? And seriously, an awesome travel bowl to replace the goofy old frisbees I leave in my car, which do double-duty as toys and water bowls - must remember to get those ordered!) See?! I got sidetracked again!

But, while I will go "dog-wild" over shopping for cute stuff for my dogs, I won't ever, ever shop for a dog itself. There is a vital difference.

Why "Don't Shop - Adopt"? Well, every time a pet is bought at a pet store, there is a very good chance that that purchase is supporting a puppy mill. These poor animals live out miserable existences. The mom is bred again and again, just to pump out litters to sell to the unsuspecting mall customer who might be window shopping. The cages are tiny and cramped, conditions are filthy and overcrowded, and healthy diets and exercise are non-existent. Continuing to support these pet stores encourages their continued involvement with puppy mills.



On the other hand, if you take the time to visit your local rescue shelter or adoption agency, you have a lot of good waiting for you (data courtesy of PetFinder.com:
  • You'll save two lives: the pet you adopt and the pet the shelter can take in as a result of your adoption.
  • You'll know what you're getting: Many shelters and rescues provide behavioral assessments on adoptable dogs and vet checks on all adoptable pets.
  • Your perfect pet is waiting for you:
    • 6-8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year in addition to countless other species.
    • 25-30% of shelter dogs are purebred.
  • You'll save money: "Free" pets are no bargain. Shelters and rescues frequently cover some or all of the initial veterinary costs, including:
    • Spaying/neutering $150-300
    • Distemper vaccination $20-30 x2
    • Rabies vaccination $15-25
    • Heartworm test $15-35
    • Flea/tick treatment $50-200
    • Microchip $50
    TOTAL: $320-670
Awareness is the beginning. I share on my personal Facebook page local dogs in need of homes from time to time. It doesn't seem like much to do, but take a minute to watch the story of Nico and see how simple sharing on social media changed the entire world for this sweet, loving pit bull:


Pit bulls, incidentally, are a much maligned breed. The truth is, they make great family pets! When you hear stories of a pit bull "gone bad," it's not the dog or the breed - it's the owner. Laws banning the breed are appealing to knee-jerk lawmakers and a society that can't bothered to enforce good owner laws already on the books. It's Lazy Law. 

Here I am working with one of two pit bulls whose owner had passed away suddenly and were in need of new forever homes.



That's Howie. He and his sister, Charlotte, were rescues. Their owner had just started training them when she died. Howie was so sweet! He was a bit of a challenge, but not because of behavior issues! Because he was deaf! But he was so eager to please and so loving. The only way you could have guessed about his past were the scars visible on his head and torso, if you looked closely enough. I wish I could have kept Howie. But we worked with them and we found happy, loving forever homes for both. All it takes is a little caring, a little effort, and some networking. 

Here are ten facts about pit bulls that you may not know (courtesy of PitbullLovers.com):

1. Pit Bulls are commonly used as therapy dogs. Whether they are visiting a senior care facility or helping someone recover from an emotional accident, Pit Bulls are making a mark as outstanding therapy dogs.

2. Pit Bulls are used in Search and Rescue work. One example of well known SAR Pit Bulls is Kris Crawford and her dogs. Kris and her dogs have helped save the lives of many people during their efforts. (http://www.ForPitsSake.org)

3. Pit Bulls serve as narcotic and bomb sniffing dogs. One Pit Bull, Popsicle (named that because he was found in an old freezer) has the largest recorded single drug find in Texas history. Read more about Popsicle here. Including how he found over 3,000 lbs of cocaine in Hildago, Texas.

4. Pit Bulls are great with kids. They weren't referred to as the "nanny's dog" for nothing, that's for sure.

5. Pit Bulls are not human aggressive. The American Pit Bull Terrier as a breed is not human aggressive. In fact, quite the opposite is true of the breed. They are gentle and loving dogs. Like any dog, individuals can be unsound and have behavior problems.

6. The Pit Bull was so popular in the early 1900's they were our mascot not only in World War One, but World War Two as well. They were featured on recruiting and propoganda posters during this time period.

7. Sgt. Stubby. A Pit Bull war hero. Stubby was wounded in action twice, he saved his entire platoon by warning them of a poison gas attack and he single handedly captured a German spy.

8. Pete the Pup on the orginal Little Rascals was a Pit Bull.

9. Pit Bulls score an 83.4% passing rate with the American Temperament Test Society. That's better than the popular Border Collie (a breed who scores 79.6%). 

10. They are dogs - not killing machines.

And, most importantly, if you are a pet owner, or are planning to bring a pet into your family, remember to have your pet spayed or neutered. 
Even if you mean to keep your pet in the house, help prevent more unwanted animals by having your fur baby fixed! 

If cost of care is an issue, keep an eye on your local animal shelters' event schedules. They frequently offer low- or no-cost vaccines and neuter/spay events. These events are a win/win! They reduce the numbers of unwanted litters and also raise awareness in the community of both animal welfare and the services these shelters offer daily. By joining in their events, you are actually helping not just your pet, but your whole community!

Be a superhero and save a life! Everyone can help:




And now, if you're still with me, IT'S TIME FOR THE TUTORIAL!


Like I said, I can shop like crazy for my fur-babies, but, being a DIY kind of gal, I am always on the lookout for things to make for them, as well, like the pet steps I made for little Abbey! 

So, let's look at how to make this dog toy! This project takes about 15 minutes and, in the pictures, I'm doing it while I sit on my bed, watching a movie. So, it's easy to make!

You will need fleece (or old T-Shirts or kitchen towels), a scissors, and two rubberbands.


The instructions I got from our troop leader called for 3 pieces of fleece, about 1/4 yd. long. I was to fold the selvage edges together, then cut 3 - 4" strips crossways from the folded edge. There were no pictures. The instructions were a little confusing, so they were quickly discarded. LOL 


Thanks to Abbey for filling in as Quality Control!
I simply cut 3 - 4" strips of fabric about 1 yd. long. A 4" width gives you a medium size dog toy. You can use old towels or t-shirts and make these in different lengths and sizes, depending on the size of the dog.

Stack the three pieces, one on top of the other. Place a rubberband about 5" from the end.



Excuse my feet. LOL Find some way to firmly hold the rubberbanded end. I find my feet to be the easiest. You can hold it between your knees or tape it to a table, but I found my feet to be the best way to go.


Braid as tightly as you can. You want to make it sturdy and not easy for the dog to get its teeth through. Braid until you have about 5" again left at the end. Wrap the second rubberband around the base of the braided section.



If the ends have gotten a little uneven during the process of braiding, trim them up so they are all the same length again.



Tie a very tight knot just inside from the rubberband. Make it tight! Then cut or remove the rubberbands. (Rubberbands are dangerous for dogs! They are a choking hazard!) Cut the loose ends into fringe about 3/4" wide.


If you find that the length is too long for your dog, you can tie a third knot in the center of the braid. And, voila! You're done! Easy-peasy!!


These are super-easy to make and would be a great project for organizations or families to donate to their local pet shelters and rescue groups, or for the kids to make the family pets for Christmas! And they make awesome use of t-shirts and towels that are destined for the trash bin.

Thanks for making it through this entire post! This is a cause that is very close to my heart. It's important to get the facts out there. I hope you will share this and spread the word that everyone can do something to make the world a better place for our four-legged friends!

I'm going to leave you with a funny video of our crazy "doghouse" with cover music provided by The Basement Gypsies!



(A little fun video of all our family dogs, courtesy of

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