Jaclyn Kennison is a freelance writer living and playing in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She owns and manages an art gallery and event venue between fits of shopping and redecorating.
My sister and her partner run a zoo. Not literally, but with two large dogs, four cats, a turtle, a frog and a fish, it sure seems like it. The challenge of housing this many creatures in a two-bedroom home are great, but they love their animals, and so do I.
One of the greatest struggles is the ever-raging war on hair. The four-leggers, as they call them, shed perpetually, and despite constant sweeping and vacuuming, their clothing and furniture is often covered with a fur of its own.
In an effort to combat this situation, they have trained the animals to stay off of the furniture, but with wood floors, they find the animals gravitate toward rugs and carpeted areas, which simply increases the concentration of hair on those surfaces. Dog beds were employed to give the “kids” a place to lie down. These, however, must also be cleaned regularly and the pillows inside the zippered versions offered by pet stores were difficult to clean. Necessity is the seed of innovation and for them it led to sustainable dog beds.
This DIY project is a fairly simple one, though it must be repeated as the bed stuffing will have to be changed occasionally. My sister and her partner took a page from their youth spent cleaning out hampster cages and began a newspaper recycling program of their own.
A stack of thick newspapers got them started. Depending on the size of the bed you are working on, an old, small pillowcase could easily be hemmed to create the pillow. For larger beds, consider cutting up old sheets, or stitching old T-shirts together. Once you have your “pillow case,” cut a few of the newspapers into long strips. Leave a few of them whole and crunch them up to add cushion. Stuff the crunched pieces in intermingling the long strips as well. The idea here is to create plenty of air space to keep the cushioning warm.
To keep the smell at a minimum, shake a few tablespoons of baking soda into the case before sealing it. Then fluff, shake and toss to disperse. Slip into another bag or cover and place in your pet’s favorite corner.
If you can stand a little noise every time your pet lies down, you can also add used plastic bags to the mix. Old T-shirts or rags also work well for stuffing.
End tables such as this can be turned over and made into lovely dog beds. Photo By Jaci Kennison.
Creating a space for the dog bed is a good idea too. Raised slightly off the floor, this will give an aesthetic quality to the piece, making it more “furniture” and less “pillow on the floor.” I found a great idea to utilize and end-table online, and for small dogs, you could repurpose a large drawer or basket. Larger dog beds may require a small amount of building, but with a few left-over pieces from another construction project or repurposed furniture piece, it could easily be achieved. A table such as the one shown above could be turned over with small blocks of wood mounted to the bottom (the old top) and with one leg removed for easy entry – turned into a nice bed for a medium sized dog. We love our beautiful, sustainable beds—why shouldn’t our pets?