From sadness to happiness. From anxiety to confidence. This image shows how just adopted dogs react when they realize their life is going to change. Words are barely necessary because the transformation is plain to see.
We don’t know for sure why these two sweet souls ended up in a shelter. Had they lived together before? Or did they become bonded when they were put in the same cage because the shelter had run out of space?
Whatever the circumstances, these homeless dogs realize that adoption is now a done deal. At least, for them.
Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!
People get it! They understand how stressed homeless pets become. And, that’s precisely why they are knitting kitty cuddle blankets for felines of all ages to use while they wait to get adopted.
Did you know that if a cat (or dog) is able to relax and snuggle in something soft and soothing, its anxiety level drops? Well, that’s precisely what happens, and its personality will then start to shine. The benefit is that these pets will attract more attention from potential adopters. Consequently, the animals have a far better chance of transitioning to a loving home.
What To Expect
For this article we go first to a small rescue in Canada and after highlight a much larger organization in England. Then finally we are delighted to share with you a very special knitting pattern. And in addition to that, we’ll also talk about a long established business that’s known the world over for its high quality, innovative yarns.
Feral To Friendly Cat Rescue, Canada
To start off we go to Brantford, Ontario, where Celena Brooks-Ferraro and her team of dedicated volunteers rescue abandoned and lost cats. However, most of their work revolves around the local feral population. And this effort includes making sure that all the roaming cats and kittens benefit from the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program.
Hand Knitted Cat Bedding
When it comes to the feral kittens, foster homes will take them in for socialization and then adopt them out as indoor cats.That is when a local resident in Canada, who posts on social media under the name Five Petal Lane, got involved in this endeavor.
She realized that she could assist by using her crocheting skills to make bedding that helps fulfill the tiny felines’ comfort needs. Initially the blankets line the crates used to hold the kittens temporarily. Later the bedding is put out in other sleeping areas. That way, the little ones are sure to feel snug and safe all year round.
On The Other Side Of The Atlantic
As I mentioned before, we’re also paying a visit to England. Now it’s pretty obvious that the title of this article focuses on kitty blankets. However, we thought you’d be interested to hear about two other aspects that are directly related to today’s main topic.
So, please read on to learn what a shelter and a yarn manufacturer have been doing for quite a while. They care about animal welfare and make sure that knitters have the tools and the opportunity to make lots and lots of kitties happy. And, by the way, they’ve both been household names for around a century and a half!
Battersea Dogs And Cats Home, England
Just south of the river Thames, not too far from where I grew up, is an institution that few Londoners have not heard of. Established back in 1860, it became a temporary home for lost and starving dogs.
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home is a shelter that cares for over 8,000 animals every year. Of this number, approximately 5,000 are dogs and 3,000 are cats. Importantly, all of them stay here until they are either reunited with their owners or are rehomed.
Some Battersea Stats
This organization, which, by the way, is not subsidized by the government, has a staff of around 300, in addition to 1,000 volunteers.
They operate at three different locations, namely, London, Old Windsor, and Brands Hatch.
The average stay for a dog is 36 days, and for a cat it is 27 days.
State Of The Art Cattery
In 2011, and at a cost of £2 million (2.5 million US dollars), Battersea inaugurated its new cattery. And, just what can a cat expect to find? It’s own private room where it is free to roam. A floor-to-ceiling window, heated flooring and full-size door so staff can walk right in. No more staying in a cage. No more being let out and put back in. And, last but by no means least, most of the beds have hand knitted snuggle throws. The whole purpose is to create an environment with the feel of a real home. And now this brings us back to knitting.
Knitting Kitty Cuddle Blankets At Knitting Kittens Club
Whether you’re a novice knitter or someone with considerable experience, it makes no difference at the Battersea London Cattery. Everyone has a great time at the monthly knitting events, sharing a common interest — to create blankets and toys for the felines. What’s more, the kitties can roam around the same specially designated area. They actually supervise the knitters and make sure they don’t dropped a stitch!
At the three-hour sessions, visitors bring their own wool and needles as well as share patterns, ideas and skills with the other participants. They are free to take their work home for their own pet to enjoy or else donate to the ones awaiting adoption. And, by the way, when a cat or kitten is adopted, it can take the hand knitted cat bedding to the new home.
What a great way to spend an evening. Knit for a while. Take a break to play with a kitty. Pick up the needles again. It’s a win-win situation for everyone, those with whiskers and those without!
When I was growing up, Sirdar was a household name, that is, if anyone in your family knew how to knit. So, when I was looking online for a knitting pattern that could help illustrate this story, I was delighted to find a great example.
But before you get out the needles, let me tell you a little about this great company founded in West Yorkshire, in the north of England. And, for those of you who may not know this, it’s a region renowned for raising sheep for wool, and spinning and weaving.
Known today as Sirdar Spinning Ltd, the company started off as Messrs Harrap Bros. Ltd in 1880 and was founded by siblings Tom and Henry. Tom’s son Fred took over in 1934 at a time when the company was selling its hand-knitting yarns to independent wool shops.
Then, beginning in the 1960s and throughout the following three decades, Fred’s daughter, Jean Tyrell, grew the company (then Sirdar) by adding patterns to its product line. Notably, she received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her contribution to the industry.
Three years before she passed away in 2010, three of the company’s directors took over operations. During that time the expansion continued and the range of yarns and patterns became available all over the world.
In 2017, Sirdar became a part of DMC which is the largest needle-craft group of companies in the world. And thanks to the fashion-forward designs and yarns they launch each season, this English brand continues to maintain its position as a market leader.
How To Knit the Fish Pattern Blanket and Garter Stitch Pattern Blanket
Here are the two patterns you’ve all been waiting for! And, when your work is complete, please take a photo of it being used so we can publish it here for everyone to see. Good luck and have fun knitting for the cats and kittens.
To Sum Up
Doing whatever you can to help the less fortunate dogs and cats in your neighborhood is a wonderful thing. And, because the interest in making bedding and toys for them is growing, we will be publishing more articles like this soon. So, please stay in touch.
Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!
If you belong to a gym, think about this for a moment. So many homeless dogs languish and never get adopted for lack of socializing and enrichment. Why not skip one workout a week and volunteer at your local shelter instead. Not only do the pups who are waiting to be adopted get a much needed walk, these shelter dogs exercise humans too!
Who would ever have guessed how much shelter dogs love their armchairs? Well, actually, when you think about it, that should be no surprise.
By thinking outside the box, and applying a little creativity, the lives of homeless pets are changing. This is what Knox County Humane Society did and now other organizations are following their lead.
It all started earlier this year and shows how resourceful shelter staff are becoming in their efforts to boost pet adoptions. Read all about it here and see my favorite video, picked especially for you.
Shelter Mascot “Buster Brown” Starts A Trend
Whenever he got the chance, the four-year resident would try and climb onto a computer chair in the front office to get a better view of who was coming and going. Then the staff at the Knox County Humane Society, Illinois, decided it was high time he had his very own chair.
So they tried out an old armchair and “Buster Brown” was as happy as could be. He no longer struggled to curl up into a ball. He could stretch his legs and rest his head on the arm. That’s how the armchair initiative began and there are now 25 of them being used inside individual kennels.
It’s All About Comfort And Mood
Shelter Director, Erin Buckmaster explains the benefits and why the shelter dogs simply love their armchairs. “First of all, the dogs are off the floor and out of drafts. They are more comfortable and less stressed. Because of this, their behavior improves and they become more adoptable,” she told us.
Buckmaster then went on to mention that in February the first chairs were put in the lobby, in an area specially set up for the three dogs that had been at the shelter the longest. That way visitors see them as soon as they walk in and they can immediately visualize them relaxing on a chair or a sofa in their own home. It was a big hit.
When the local community heard about this, the response was amazing. In fact, the very first day, one lady showed up with 11 chairs she had bought at a thrift shop. It’s worth pointing out that donations are always welcome since the chairs are frequently replaced due to getting a bit chewed up and scratched.
Chairs For Cats
At the same time, some of the cats also got chairs. However, they are now using mostly plastic lawn chairs since not all of the felines are litter box users.
See for yourselves why shelter dogs love their armchairs so much. Video created by KCHS staff member, Tanner Smith.
Unwanted Chairs Furnish Animal Shelters
The Start Of A New Trend
“When we heard about the success they were having with the armchairs at the Knox County shelter, we decided to try it out, too,” said Lissa Waters, Development Coordinator at West Valley Humane Society in Caldwell, Idaho. This is an open admission shelter in the Boise metro area, that takes in over 7,000 animals of all kinds every single year. And, they will have up to 100 dogs for adoption at any one time.
A great example of an early success story relates to Roxy who was about 10 or 11 years old. “It’s always a lot harder to adopt out an older dog,” Waters commented. “She wasn’t doing well in this noisy setting but as soon as she was given a chair, she curled right up on her blanket and started to relax.” Staff took photos, then a local television crew came out, and Roxy was adopted a day or two later. What an inspirational story!
To Sum Up
Because this is such a great initiative, I’d like to leave you, the reader, with no doubt as to why shelter dogs are loving their armchairs so much.
An armchair is a comfort item most dogs and cats are used to when they lived with their previous family.
A chair is comfortable and has a calming effect. The stress level goes way down and a dog’s mood improves significantly.
It allows a potential adopter to already visualize the dog fitting into its new home fairly effortlessly.
The likelihood of a dog finding its (hopefully) forever home goes way up.
And you can help, by spreading the word. Maybe you even have an old armchair to donate. The dogs will thank you for it!
A Helping Hand
If you would like to donate or volunteer at either of these shelters, here is the contact information.
I am sorry to report that “Buster Brown” passed away August 20 2018 due to congestive heart failure. R.I.P., sweet boy!
Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!
Feedback On What Works And What Doesn’t
I decided to get some feedback on how this novel armchair program was working out. So I contacted Brittany Sundell, Development Coordinator at West Valley Humane Society. But before continuing, it’s important to remind everyone that this is a medium to high intake shelter of around 4,000 dogs annually. So, it was certainly challenging but began on a positive note.
Overall Results – Animals, Staff, Donations
‘We used donated chairs for about four months with dogs in our kennels and overall our dogs loved it. They felt happier and more “at home,” Sundell stated. “However we had the following problems that prevented us from continuing.” Here is a summary of what she reported.
Sanitation was a big issue since there was no way to truly sanitize a chair between dogs. As a result, they saw a rise in viruses like kennel cough due to the kennel environment.
Another issue was making sure all chairs had at least a 6-8 inch clearance off the ground to allow for easy cleaning.
Then the public, eager to help out, kept dropping off chairs while they were closed, that could not be used. Consequently, their trash pick ups became significantly more expensive because of the need to remove the unwanted furniture.
Other Shelters Can Now Make Informed Decisions
So, at West Valley HS they resumed using Kuranda beds with blankets to aid in the overall comfort and sanitation of the kennels. And, in her final comment, Sundell added, “We discussed the issue with our management team and the general consensus was this. If we were a lower intake facility that served less dogs or had a [shorter] stay for dogs, this would absolutely be a program worth continuing!”