Home Made Small Dog Coat and Harness: When Store-Bought Won’t Do

A pug mom takes matters into her own hands when she discovers that it was impossible to buy off-the-rack for her barrel-chested baby.  

My experience with dog apparel started years ago with a really cute cowl neck knit pullover coat purchased from a pet store. It would keep Peanut’s bare belly warm, and as a bonus, she’d look extra adorable! Tags removed, I tried to work the pug into the sock-like tube. It wasn’t great. Later on I’d discover another off-the-rack coat that was not only thicker but also fastened with Velcro. Even better! Tags removed, I lifted her up from the front, awkwardly threaded her legs through the leg holes (which could take a while if she kept pulling her legs back out) and tried to affix the Velcro under the belly. It was about one to two inches away from fastening. I would continue to find a variety of coats that seemed like winners but always missed the mark.

Determined that Peanut would have a coat she could actually wear, I decided to take a sewing class and make one myself. Since I hadn’t touched a sewing machine since Junior High school, I took a basic sewing class from the local Jo-Ann Fabrics store. Our instructor Teri was fabulous and helped me pick out a good, basic sewing machine.

Experimenting with different patterns using fleece bulk fabric, I finally found a pattern that worked well.

  • It accommodates her barrel chest
  • It’s easy to get on and off
  • Peanut can be standing or sitting while I put on the coat
  • No awkward wrestling with getting legs in and out

From my various attempts, this is one of the designs I like best.

Winter Coat How-To


  • Fleece fabric: Whole piece sized large enough to fold over and cover the dog’s entire body from neck to tail. In my opinion, an extra layer for the tummy is a nice touch.
  • Velcro: Enough strips to be applied from neck to tail along the back side as well as at least two long strips on the underside that will fold over to meet the back. Having enough Velcro allows for easy application each time the coat is put on; nothing needs to line up exactly to get a snug fit.
  • Fabric Shears: Any scissors will do but fabric-only shears seem to make extra-sharp cuts.
  • Pins
  • Sewing Machine: Primarily for the Velcro as I find that too difficult to stitch by hand.

I started out by ensuring I first had the proper length with the cut for the neck. Next, I played around with how much I would need to cut away around the shoulders so that it narrowed properly. The only hems here are around the shoulders so that it looks a bit neater. The fabric keeps its shape well enough around all the edges. It doesn’t stretch out or fray so adding any additional length to your measurements for hems is unnecessary.

Note that the Velcro strips sewn on the back narrow towards the tail to accommodate a snugger fit for Peanut. (Her sparsely-furred belly hangs a bit back there and I did not want her catching a draft.) I did not modify the cut of the cloth, only how I applied the Velcro.

Use caution and common sense if you do any measuring, cutting, and pinning while the coat is on the dog!

homemade winter coat dog pug design stocky barrel chested

homemade winter coat dog pug putting on the coat.pptx


Since the winter coats were originally created, Peanut has required some assistance with keeping her balance when we let her out to go potty. She has trouble at times keeping steady, especially on uneven ground. I assumed we’d need to purchase a separate harness, but when I considered factors such as the accuracy of fit, threading her into a harness four times a day, and possibly having to put the harness over the coat, I considered turning the existing coat into a harness. An internet search revealed a photo of a key chain ring that was sewn onto a fabric harness for just the upper body that would allow for attaching a leash. Bingo!


  • Dog coat
  • Key chain rings
  • Ribbon
  • Sewing machine
  • Bungee cord or luggage strap with hooks

Attaching ribbon and key chains to dog coat

I conveniently had access to lots of unused key chains, so I sewed a ribbon over the back of the coat and threaded it through the key rings. It’s important to consider where the pressure will be applied when pulling up so it’s as comfortable as possible on your bestie. I focused the pressure around the upper chest, avoiding the neck, and just below the hip bones. Since the coat covers the entire upper and lower body, the pressure should be more distributed.

Dog coat made into harness with key chain rings front and side view

Yes, I have my dog attached to a bungee cord – but hear me out! 

I could have used a strap with clips from a piece of luggage, for example, but I went with a bungee cord secured by twist ties. It’s a good length for me to hold (a bit short for my husband) and affords a little give when tugging upwards. The twist ties are a simple way to keep the cord hooks from unhooking.

Summer-Weight Harness

Using the same basic pattern of the winter coat, I created a summer-weight harness.

Summer and winter weight home made dog coat

Summer and winter weight home made dog coat 2

The pink coat in this photo has a variation in the Velcro pattern from the first coat shown. This pattern affords more wiggle room for where exactly the sides get attached. It’s a matter of preference.

The summer harness uses the same basic pattern of the winter coat which is cut from one large piece of cloth. Two pieces of cloth could be stitched together but the idea is that it folds over the dog so the dog is covered from the base of the underbelly to the base of the back. Most of the middle of the belly is cut away as well as the upper back. The straps along the back are about 2.5″ wide; leaving enough room for one to two strips of Velcro. To add back support for the key rings, two pieces of a stiffer fabric were sewn to both the front and back of the harness. Some additional editing for a snugger fit was required after the basic harness was created.

Summer weight dog harness details

Peanut in summer weight home made harness

There are undoubtedly rugged, well-crafted harnesses available for purchase. Those options were explored, but since I wanted something right away and was concerned about sizing and the inability to return a custom order, I decided to try my hand at making one. For our purposes, these home made coat/harnesses work perfectly well.

Rain Visor

A few years after I made my winter coat, I discovered this one by RC Pets purchased from Healthy Pet in Aurora, IL that is really close to what I had been originally searching for. Even though Peanut is petite for a pug, she is a size 14, so a bit larger than the total sizing and weight would suggest. It’s warm and attaches easily with velcro. As a bonus, it is also water resistant. In an “if-only-it-kept-the-rain-off-her-head-too” train of thought, I came up with a way to attach a rain visor to the collar.

Rain visor for dog coat using clear plastic and velcro

I purchased clear plastic fabric from the store and continually cut down the size in a visor shape until it appeared to hold up and not flop over from its own weight while pinned to either side. Using velcro, I cut little squares and stiched them to both the underside of the collar and the visor. If it’s not raining, I don’t use the visor.

I sewed key chain rings directly to the coat for harness support as well, so this is now our go-to coat for rainy days.

Dog coat color up and down with without rain visor

Want to see how I use mitten clips and suspenders to attach little doggie socks? Check out The Dogged Battle of Frosty Paws.


I Got a Fever and the Only Prescription is…More Bird Songs!

How do you pass the miles when you have lots of time to occupy your mind? Do you listen to the radio? Ipod? Audio books? Contemplate life? Enjoy the silence (if you can)?

When Joel and I go on little road trips we are apt to challenge each other on our music trivia. General topics are selected such as songs about a location or that reference the weather. We’ll volley back and forth until we have a gloater winner. Much to my surprise and delight, Joel recently picked songs that reference birds or flight.

Besides singing about other people, does the music world croon about any other living creature as much as it does birds?

Bird Song Word Cloud

Given our ages and musical preferences, many songs that reference birds and flight certainly won’t be represented, however, here is our collective list:

In alphabetical order by song title

As I Lay Me Down – Sophie B. Hawkins
“It felt like spring time on this February morning. In a courtyard birds were singing your praise.”

Beds Are Burning – Midnight Oil
“Four wheels scare the cockatoos from Kintore East to Yuendemu.”

Birdhouse In Your Soul – They Might Be Giants
“Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch who watches over you. Make a little birdhouse in your soul.”

Black Crows – Honeyhoney
“Black Crows on the blue sky always making a mess. And I wake in the morning tangled up in their nest.”

Blackbird – The Beatles
“Blackbird singing in the dead of night. Take these broken wings and learn to fly.”

Blue Jay Way – The Beatles
“Soon will be the breath of day sitting here in Blue Jay Way.”

Chorus – Erasure
“And they covered up the sun until the birds had flown away.”

(They Long to Be) Close to You – The Carpenters
“Why do birds suddenly appear? Every time you are near?”

Edge Of Seventeen – Stevie Nicks
“Just like the white winged dove, sings a song sounds like she’s singing…”

Fly Like an Eagle – Steve Miller Band
“I want to fly like an eagle to the sea. Fly like an eagle let my spirit carry me.”

Fly Robin Fly – Silver Convention
“Fly, robin fly. Fly, robin fly. Fly, robin fly. Up, up to the sky”
Lather, rinse, repeat. These are THE ONLY lyrics to the song! You don’t want to miss this gem from 1976. I may add this choreographed dance routine to my exercise repertoire.

Hot In Herre – Nelly
“Check it, got it locked at the top of the Four Seasons. Penthouse, roof top, birds I feedin.”

I’m Like a Bird – Natalie Furtado
“I’m like a bird I’ll only fly away.”

Little Bird – Annie Lennox
“I look up to the little bird that glides across the sky. He sings the clearest melody. It makes me want to cry.”
One of my favorites. Unfortunately no birds make an appearance in this video.

One For The Mockingbird – Cutting Crew
“But the sweetest song of all the mockingbirds couldn’t hope to match one note of any song we played.”

Over the Rainbow – Judy Gardland
“Birds fly over the rainbow. Why then, oh, why can’t I?”

Remedy – Black Crows
“Baby, baby why can’t you sit still? Who killed that bird out on you window sill?”

Rockin’ Robin – Bobbie Day
“All the little birds on Jay Bird Street love to hear the robin go tweet tweet tweet.”
Nine different birds are mentioned in this song. Is there any other song that is birdier than this?

Scar Tissue – Red Hot Chili Peppers
“With the birds I’ll share this lonely view.”
I always thought the words were “Scott Tissue”. “Scott Tissue that I wish you saw…” and thought it was so odd (but quite a coup for the Scott®  folks) that a band like Red Hot Chili Peppers would reference toilet paper in a song.

Sign Your Name – Terence Trent D’Arby
“Birds never look into the sun before the day is done.”

St. Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion) – John Parr
“I can see the new horizon underneath the blazin’ sky. I’ll be where the eagle’s flying higher and higher.”

Sparrow – Simon & Garfunkel
“Who will love a little Sparrow and who will speak a kindly word? ‘Not I,’ said the Swan, ‘The entire idea is utterly absurd, I’d be laughed at and scorned if the other Swans heard.’ ”

Suga Suga – Baby Bash
“So fly like a dove, fly like a raven. Quick to politic with some fly conversation.”

Take a Chance On Me – ABBA
“If you’re all alone when the pretty birds have flown…honey I’m still free, take a chance on me.”

The Night Owls – Little River Band
“He’s gonna win her every time. He knows he will, he’s dressed to kill he’s a night owl.”

Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
“Three little birds each by my doorstep. Singin’ sweet songs of melodies pure and true.”

When Doves Cry – Prince
“Why do we scream at each other? This is what it sounds like when doves cry.”

Wings of a Dove – Ferlin Husky
“On the wings of a snow-white dove He sends His pure sweet love. A sign from above on the wings of a dove.”

Songs about bird flight word cloud

We’re assuming the use of flight is in reference to or similar to a bird’s flight and not insects, bats, angels, or airplanes.

In alphabetical order by song title

Amazing – Aerosmith
“That one last shot’s a Permanent Vacation. And how high can you fly with broken wings?”

Breakaway – Kelly Clarkson
“I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly. I’ll do what it takes til’ I touch the sky.”

Broken Wings – Mr. Mister
“Take these broken wings and learn to fly again, learn to live so free.”
A falcon with intact wings makes a few brief appearances in this video.

Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
“We’ll be able to fly (Don’t fear the reaper)”
You get bonus points if you knew that this SNL skit this was the inspiration for the title of this post!

Theme From The Greatest American Hero (Believe It Or Not) – Mike Post
“Flying away on a wing and a prayer, who could it be? Believe it or not it’s just me.”

I Believe I Can Fly – R. Kelly
“I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky. I think about it every night and day, spread my wings and fly away.”
When you want to instill confidence in yourself, spreading your wings and flying away does seem sexier and more inspiring than, say, lacing up your gym shoes and sprinting away. 

Never Tear Us Apart – INXS
“I told you that we could fly ‘cause we all have wings…but some of us don’t know why.”

On the Wings of Love – Jeffrey Osborne
“On the wings of love up and above the clouds the only way to fly…is on the wings of love.”

Time For Me To Fly – REO Speedwagon
“Time for me to fly…oh, I’ve got to set myself free. Time for me to fly…and that’s just how it’s got to be.”

Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler
“I can fly higher than an eagle, ’cause you are the wind beneath my wings.”

Like the bird song word clouds? Check out Tagxedo for a word cloud generator with lots of fun options.

The Tent-tacular Outdoor Potty Tent

Last year was one of the coldest winters on record with extremely heavy snowfall; I won’t soon forget it. As temperatures started to drop this past fall, I couldn’t help but fret about what winter would have in store for us this year and how it would take its toll on Peanut’s potty time. Considering how difficult the whole process was for all of us and knowing that her little body would be taxed even further with age, I really wanted to make this season easier to manage.

My first thought was to buy an outdoor dog kennel and cover it with tarps or boards. There was much discussion between Joel and I about the ideal size of the kennel, how much to spend, how much work it would involve, the likelihood of Peanut actually using it, etc. After all, we tried using a bottomless camping tent outside a few years ago but we believe she did not use it because she thought she was still indoors.

I searched craigslist often over several weeks to find used kennels that might fit the bill but we never found anything that stood out as the best option.  Just when I thought this project was not going to happen, Joel proposed boarding up the sides of a pole tent we already owned.

Our project was a go.

Joel in the completed potty tent

A fine-looking potty tent indeed!

It has been over two months since we built the potty tent. I’ll cut to the chase and share that it has been a complete success ! We could not possibly be happier with the tremendous relief from the hassles of winters past. Why?

No snow or ice!* 
No getting knocked over by high winds!!
Instant access to clear, odiferous grass!!!

What We Used

  • 10 x 10 pole tent
  • 9 sheets of medium-density fibreboard (MDF) 97 mm thick; 3’ x 11’ 7/8” (1.21m x 2.43m) These boards were not designed for outdoor use
  • 2-3 boxes of small nuts and bolts
  • Gorilla Glue
  • 13 wooden lawn stakes
  • 12 cable ties
  • Table saw
  • Center support board
  • Truck (rented to get the boards to the house since our cars were not large enough)

Approximate total cost: $180 (excluding the tent which we already had)

The following is based on using the materials above and Joel’s measurements for our particular tent.

Confirming our plan: We put up the tent and picked out what we believed would be the best spot. We considered the distance from the door to the house and direction of wind.

Preparing the boards: This was a weekend project that Joel approximates took about eight hours. This included cutting the boards down two feet each in length so that they would not be taller than the tent. Boards were placed flat on the ground and overlapped about one foot on either side. For our tent, this meant using three boards per side for a total of nine. Joel then glued the overlapped sections together so that he had three full sides for the tent. Lastly, he drilled holes spaced about ten inches apart through the overlaps so that he could add nuts and bolts for extra strength.

close up of tent boards

Close up of glue, nuts, and bolts.

Attaching the boards: We transported the three tent walls around to the backyard where the tent had been erected. With the boards propped upright against the tent legs, Joel drilled holes into the boards where they met at the corners (top, middle, and bottom). This is where we fed the cable ties through, securing the boards to each other.

tent pole corner

 Duct tape secures the tent frame. Cable ties (2 of 3 shown) secure boards at right angles.
Slight buckling is is visible after two months.

 Securing the tent: The last steps included pounding in the wooden lawn stakes. This was meant to help stabilize the walls with the buckling and movement we expected to occur from winds and general outdoor wear and tear. The stakes were added to both the inside and outside for stability and extra strength against wind.

tent and lots of snow

 Two outside stakes are visible. This has to be done before the ground freezes.

The potty tent was completed in the nick of time. It snowed that same weekend. We were deliriously happy that the tent remained completely clear, however, Peanut was not immediately sure what to make of it. We had to keep her in socks since she ambled in and out of the tent for several days. I later added two small leaf piles to the tent when I made the connection that leaves seemed to…inspire her. That’s all it took. Once she went potty in the tent, the rest of the snow-covered yard became completely undesirable.**

view from inside the potty tent

 View from inside.

After two months’ time, the boards have buckled a bit but it’s not bad. We made it a point to brush off any snow that would collect on the top of the tent because the cover is only a thin canvas material. Because we grew concerned about just how much snow the cover could take, we added a tarp over the tent draped down at an angle from our deck for added security. I’m not sure how we would have reinforced the canvas top if we didn’t have this option.

potty tent is holding up in extreme snow falls

View of inside. Several wooden stakes support the walls on all sides.

We’re delighted that the tent has provided an excellent barrier from snow and wind; it’s exactly what we hoped for and then some. The benefits we have all enjoyed have far exceeded the cost of materials and our efforts to build it. We don’t intend for this tent to be up year round, only for winter. It would be great if we could reuse these same materials, but if not, we will absolutely consider investing in sturdier components for future use.

Hopefully others who have similar problems can use this idea to create their own wintertime potty oasis!

Peanut in the potty tent

Peanut gives the potty tent two dew claws up!

*A little snow collected in the corners when winds were extremely high.

**Peanut also made the connection that being in the potty tent equaled treats. Because she is so food-motivated and a bit too smart for her own good, she would go in there and do somewhat of a curtsy while staring at me like she did her part and now it was my turn. We had to once again start rewarding potty anywhere she went outside, just so long as she knew that inside the tent area was also an acceptable choice.

UPDATE: My suggestion to anyone interested in researching options would be to also check out fabric sheds (aka temporary or portable garages) from big box retailers like Home Depot and Menards.

Read the reviews for various sizes. You’ll likely find mixed reviews that some did and did not hold up in high winds and snow; I think a lot of it has to to do with how the shed/portable garage is set up, secured, and maintained. If you want to set-it-and-forget-it you have to get something really substantial and durable. Read what some folks did to strengthen and secure the structures. Notice how our tent has a wooden board dug slightly into the ground, centered in the very middle and secured to the top/center of the tent, providing extra stability against high winds. 

Adventures in Aging Canine Physical Rehabilitation Part 2

It’s been a year and a half since I wrote a post about Peanut’s physical rehab. Since that is one of my more popular posts, I thought it would be worthwhile to share an update.

Our little gal turned 13 on December 24th. A few weeks prior to that, I met a woman who just happened to be with her own 13-year-old pug at the veterinarian’s office. While making small talk, she referred to Peanut as a young pug. I thought she was joking but she wasn’t. It must be the black coloring she still has on her ears, around her eyes, and on her muzzle. It’s been wonderful to be fooled for so long by a dog that has barely been showing her physical age. It often tricks me into thinking that nothing has changed and the three of us can just hang out forever more.

Peanut Sleeping 13 years old

She doesn’t look a day over seven years old, eight tops.

Despite her youthful appearance, we’ve had to make some changes over time to Peanut’s exercise and standard care. Towards the end of summer, Peanut seemed more hunched in general. She was also starting to lose balance from behind on tile; she couldn’t keep her legs from splaying which was causing her to fall. We not only had a weak wrist that was getting weaker but also back legs that were no longer holding her up as well. Add a hunched frame and I was struck with the reality that she really was getting older. I think it all happened rather quickly but Joel says it has been a slow evolution over time. I don’t envy the animal medical professionals who have had to wade through our differing assessments of what started when.

Pain Medications: At our veterinarian’s advice, we started giving Peanut Metacam for pain. Since Peanut never gave us any reason to suspect that she was in pain until she started hunching, we decided it was time to provide relief. She’s doing well on it and does seem generally perkier and less hunched during the day. We also recently started giving her Tramadol in the evenings which has made a huge difference in her ability to sleep through the night without uncomfortably shifting around several times an hour. We initially assumed it was just something we’d all need to live with until we spoke with our vet about it. I’m so glad we did.

Carpet: And lots of it. Because my faithful companion still insists on providing a personal escort throughout the house, I had to find a way to provide traction on tile. There were tireless efforts of trying any and every combination of boots, socks, velcro, vet wrap, clips, bands, and incantations to keep her from sliding and falling on tile floors. Some provided only short-term assistance, others proved to be more of a hazard.

Socks and other ways to stop Peanut from Slipping

Sadly, no silver bullets here for us.

We tried keeping her crated during meal time preparation; times meant for revelry and leaping about. It didn’t go well. We now have inexpensive carpet off the role from Home Depot that covers the entire kitchen. Peanut can easily trot after us at will and once again run from one end of the kitchen to the other when that dinner bell chimes.

Peanut in kitchen on carpet

Strategically placed in the work triangle of the kitchen where spillage is most likely to occur.

Senior-friendly activities: We’ve incorporated more low-impact activities such as slow movements around the house and sensory stimulation. I picked some from this list and made adjustments that work for us.

Step Overs : We’re down to two tightly wrapped towels spaced a few feet apart because of the racing and potential tripping. (Peanut is more focused on the destination rather than the journey. She must get that from me.) Trying to slow her down using a leash only makes it worse.

K-Laser: We are now getting weekly K-laser (cold laser) treatments. I believe the science behind this as well as our experience that these treatments help accelerate repair and provide relief. You can find a local K-Laser provider here.

Low Incline Ramp Balancing: The homemade ramp that we’ve had for years now doubles as a core strengthening tool. This works better for us than the yoga ball. I prop the ramp up on a few pillows placed on the ground so that the incline is much less than it is on the couch. Even though the ramp is just a few inches off the ground, the slow back and forth movements provides good balancing and coordination exercise. I make sure I’m standing over her or right next to her to keep her from falling in case she stumbles. Of course she only complies if there are treat rewards! We originally used a bosu ball  in therapy (rubber side down), so that or something similar would also be ideal.

More Buggy Time:  A pet buggy purchased years ago also allows for balancing practice. While our preference is to visit forest preserves, we bumped up the number of small walks around the neighborhood when time is tight. Whether she is standing or seated, she must balance while we are in motion. The added stimulation of seeing and smelling what’s going on around the ‘hood is great, too.

Joel walks Peanut in buggy dog stroller

Chiropractor: For now we have paused on chiropractic adjustments. When researching dog diseases of the spine, I learned about Pug (Constrictive) Myelopathy and the suggestion that adjustments could be counterproductive. I have not yet spoken with the chiropractor about this to get her input. The only way we would know for sure would be to get an MRI, but due to Peanut’s age, we will not pursue that or any non-lifesaving surgical procedures which would be too high risk at her age.

Professional Physical Therapy: We left one physical therapy group and got a second opinion from another. Regarding the weak wrist, we were told that no exercise could accomplish strengthening it back up and that we’d actually need to brace the weak shoulder, the source of the problem. Because I think she would hate the harness and since she compensates quite well from day to day, we are not pursuing the shoulder harness at this time.

Treat Ball and Figure Eights: She stumbled around too much while batting the ball. We also eliminated figure eights because she was tripping herself while scrambling to get the treats. It’s adorable when a puppy does it, but a wonky senior? Not so much.

We cherish the good days and do our best to roll with the challenging days. But roll we shall.

Blooper photo_Stopping Peanut from SlippingBlooper photo. The Floor Manager must first inspect new stuff on the floor during photo prep.

Thank you to all the great members at PugVillage.com for their compassion and support on this journey through senior care.

Through 2016

Towards the end of 2015 and around the time Peanut turned 14, her physical activity was limited to walking on carpet around the house when she was up for it, walks outside in the buggy, and trips out for laser therapy. Based on a tip we received in a Face Book support group for pugs with walking issues, we purchased a laundry cart to ease the burden on her bad shoulder and wrist; there was nothing more from a therapy perspective to make them any better. I fed her in the cart and pushed her around in it as I did things around the house – cleaning, cooking, working, etc. Not only did she not mind it, she seemed to like the view from a few feet higher than she otherwise saw the world and the ability to “go for rides” around the house all day.  I loved the fact that we could still do things together around the house without the physical burden of her trying to keep up. I can’t express enough how valuable having this cart was for us in her last  year.


Arden Peanut Outside Deck May 22 2016PeanutLaundryCart

Rhapsody in Bluebird

My very productive afternoon of house cleaning came to a screeching halt when I happened upon this:

blue birds

We get Eastern Bluebirds from time to time zipping across the yard but it’s not common at all to witness them just hanging out on the deck.

Clean or watch pretty birds?
Clean or watch pretty birds?
Let me take half a second to think about that.

Seizing the opportunity and grateful to have the time to stop and watch, I perched in front of the window and savored the gift of having a front row seat to the bluebird show.

bluebirds oct 2014 1

For well over a half hour, I watched them watch the world, huddle up with one another, sample the suet, preen, cough up little berries (that was odd), and bathe for what appeared to be the first time for some.

bluebirds oct 2014 6

That might be mom and dad supervising the festivities. Most of the birds still had little speckles on their chest and a few baby feathers.

Is it the blue that makes them so dazzling? I could not look away.

bluebirds oct 2014 9

At one point there were eight bluebirds frolicking about. They didn’t have the foggiest idea that I lurked just a few feet away, completely captivated and delighted by their presence.

bluebirds oct 2014 4

bluebirds oct 2014 8

bluebirds oct 2014 5

I stayed fixed on my little blue buddies until one by one, they were gone.

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

Help Birds Have a Brighter Future

September 1st marked the 100th anniversary of the death of Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon. The Passenger Pigeon was one of the most abundant birds in the world during the 19th century until they went extinct in 1914.

Billions to none… the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon

 “The extinction of the Passenger Pigeon had two major causes: commercial exploitation of pigeon meat on a massive scale and loss of habitat.”

Now, a report recently released from the National Audubon Society says that climate change is threatening 314 bird species with possible extinction.

The State of the Birds Report 2014

The birds don’t get a say in how our actions and decisions affect them. We know better and we can do better. I’ve read only a fraction about some of the long- and short-term consequences of the loss of a species; it is a large part of what motivates me to give my undivided attention and best possible care to whatever winged creatures come through the doors at the wildlife rehabilitation center.

state of birds 2014 birds in rehabiliation

 Feathered friends at the wildlife rehabilitation center.

The Top 5 Reasons I Give a Hoot

  1. They are pretty, intriguing, quirky, and fun to watch. Emphasis on the pretty!
  2. They give us clues about the health of the environment.
  3. Slurping up mosquitoes and other pesky pests – insectivorous birds rock!
  4. They spread seeds and pollen which helps other environmental goodies grow.
  5. They help naturally control disease and rodent populations.

Learn how you can take action right now:  Read it.   Watch it.

humming bird mug and humming bird 2

 Because, I mean, come on.

By the way, that IS delicious bird-friendly coffee in that mug!

Why Do Good Girls Like Bad Birds?

Sleek, black as coal, smart as a whip and a little bit naughty…I am bewitched by the American Crow. When the wildlife specialist said that the recovering crow could be moved from the indoor bird room to an outside enclosure and observed for flight, I jumped at the chance to give him a lift. YES I wanted to move the crow!

The crow had remained quite calm the past several times I had provided him with room service, so gently but firmly, I carried the surprisingly light bird in my hands as I walked outside. Maybe he sensed that he was being looked at, because the very moment I glanced down at the top of his head, he looked up at me.

When I volunteer at the wildlife center, I tend to mentally slip into a bit of a Snow White fantasy world where woodland creatures may very well sing to me and help me clean up around the place. The instant our eyes met, I had a dreamy notion that we were having a true connection. We needed no words; just two sentient beings sharing a moment and an understanding. Soon, we’d be making quick work of washing all those dirty dishes…


Crow Nip 2014

Not only was I not mad, I admired his brass. He can’t get rid of me that easily.

♫ And cheerfully together we can tidy up the place…so hum a merry tune ♪

American Crow Wildlife Rehabilitation June 2014Here is my guy. Is he handsome or what?

While this post was written in good fun, the bird was certainly not “bad,” he was just being a cautious bird that was caught by a predator (me). The title is based on the song Why Do Good Girls Like Bad Boys – Angel & The Reruns. I didn’t get any feedback prompting this update, it just breaks my heart that these birds are ever considered anything less than highly intelligent, highly social creatures that want to live their lives as much as we want to live ours.