Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Refurbishing your toys to save $'s... or make your own!

I like to refurbish my dog toys, and buy out-of-season toys. Who knew dog toys were seasonal. ;) For example, I picked up a lot of Santa’s, Christmas trees and even the Star of David on clearance at the beginning of January—each toy was under $0.25. After the election, I got a few patriotic toys on clearance as well. Milly’s favorite toy is actually a reindeer from the bargain bin—it was $0.23, and she has no idea frolicking with Rudolph in July (or currently, March) is not the norm by Western cultural standards.

I also refurbish Milly’s squeaky toys. Big box store pet stores tend to sell packages of replacement squeakers (about 20 squeakers a package for under $5).

To refurbish a toy: First, throw the toys in the washing machine, and hang dry. I've used the dryer before, but it did melt one eye on a toy--if you want to use the dryer tumble dry on low heat. The washing step is very important, because you will be handling the toys a lot, and dog toys tend to get smelly. Next, open the toy by using a seam ripper on any major seam (if it is an animal shaped toy usually the belly has a seam), remove the dead squeaker and replace with a new squeaker, if the toy needs some fluffing up you can add some more PollyFill. Finally, sew the toy back together. I like to double the thread and use a simple whip stitch. It isn’t pretty, but it is fast and secure. After, pull on the seam a little to make sure your dog’s play style will not rip the toy open. Should your dog rip any toys, immediately take the toy away from your dog. You can then refurbish these in the same way (whip stitch the torn seam prior to washing or you will have PollyFill all over your washing machine). If any ears or other parts of the toy are falling off, either remove that piece all together (and sew the seam closed), or sew it back on.

If refurbishing toys is not for you, you can make your own. If you have an old fleece blanket laying around the house you can cut this into long strips of fleece. Then, braid the fleece strips, and tie with a large knot at each end of the braid. You now have a toy that not only is fun to play with, but also cleans the teeth. To get ideas for fleece toys go to a large pet supply store and take a look at what fleece rope style toys they have.

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