Leave Paw Prints on Their Hearts!

Seasons Greetings! Merry Christmas! Blessed Hanukkah! Happy Holidays!

No matter what you are celebrating and honoring, I hope this finds you and your family having a stress-free week!  I giggled as I wrote that, because the reality (that we all know too well) is that this week can be incredibly hectic.  From family vacations, trips to relatives’ houses, relatives visiting your home, 101 to-dos, last minute shopping, to endless check-lists, these past few weeks can be overwhelming to say the least!  And not to mention the strain that it can put on our finances!  We shop for relatives, we shop for friends, we shop for family members, and sometimes the pets get a few gifts sprinkled in there as well.

But what about giving a gift to our loved ones that honors our pets?

This year I decided to create something for the loved ones in my life that just happen to love our animal companions almost as much as I do.  And at the same time, I found a way to save money, while honoring the foot prints that our pets have placed upon our hearts.

I decided to create my first DIY (Do It Yourself) Paw Print Ornament.

DIY paw print ornaments
Here a 3 of the 5 ornaments. They are still drying here, hence the darker color.

Ok, so it’s not the fanciest ornament, by any means. Clearly you can see that this is my first attempt at this!  But that’s what makes it so fun!  It doesn’t have to be perfect!  It can be messy, with flaws and all!

What I love most about this gift idea is that it’s not about perfection. It’s about creating something from your heart, with your hands. It’s about putting effort and love into a gift. And it’s really fun. 

If you have a dog, cat, pig, parrot, ferret, iguana, or rat, you can do this too!


If you would like to make these, this is what you need:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup baking soda

Steps:

1. Mix both into a saucepan.

2. Slowly add in 3/4 cup of water.

Note: Continue stirring mixture as you add the water. It will start to turn into a hard, concrete mixture; keep stirring! It will blend together in a few minutes.

3. Place saucepan on stove top and cook at medium. Stir constantly for several minutes.

Note: Be sure to stir all the way to the bottom of the pot. The mixture begins to harden at the bottom first.

4. Keep Stirring! — It will very quickly (and almost suddenly) become a doughy ball.

5. Remove saucepan from heat. (Let the dough sit until you can safely remove it from the saucepan).

6. Place the dough on a smooth cutting board and allow it to cool a bit more.

7. Knead it for a minute or so, until it is soft and pliable.

8. Section dough into as many pieces as you will need. (make various sizes based on the animals’ feet sizes.)

9. Roll dough into balls. Press flat.

10. Make a hole big enough for your string of choice to go through the top of the ornament. (I used a thick toothpick.)

11. While the dough is smooth and moist (before it begins to dry and crack), gently press your pet’s paw into the dough. Be gentle, but apply even pressure.

11. Reward your pet with treats for allowing you to do this 😉 Never force your pet to participate.

12. Place parchment or wax paper on a baking sheet. Place dough on sheet.

13. Bake the paw print dough at 250 degrees for 30 – 35 minutes. (thicker slices will take longer to bake.)

14. Let baked dough cool for a few minutes.

15.  Decorate as your heart desires!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tips for enhancing your creation:

  • Add glitter!
  • Add beads!
  • Keep the color white!
  • Change the color to red, blue, or whatever color speaks to you!
  • Use twine instead of ribbon for a more rustic look!
  • Paint the ornament after it bakes!
  • Write the name and year on the back.
  • Write a short poem or saying on the back.

(Just google “DIY Paw Print Ornament and you will find a ton of ideas.)


These are just a few reasons why I wanted to share this with you all:

  • It works for folks on a tight budget!
  • It works for a last minute gift idea!
  • It works for kids that love to create things as gifts!
  • It works for the people who love to bake!
  • It works for the non-bakers, too!
  • It works for people with limited time!
  • It works for people of all ages!

It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s fast. It’s creative. It’s unique.

No matter who’s making it, and no matter how it turns out, the receiver of the gift will see that it came from your heart.

“Pets leave footprints in our hearts, and memories in our thoughts that last forever.” -Julie Hebert

Pets are not iPads: Thinking Outside the Animal Gift Box

puppy-wearing-red-bowIf you are a last minute holiday shopper, you may be tempted to buy Christmas or New Year gifts for loved ones without doing your homework.  This time of year, parents and partners can be easily persuaded to get the most heart-warming gift of them all: a cute and cuddly new animal.  It may seem like the sweetest gift idea, but often it is not most responsible decision.

Animals are unlike any other present.  They require a level of commitment and responsibility that few other holiday gifts do.  Often because people fail to recognize this, countless dogs, cats, birds, and other animals given as gifts during the holidays end up at animal shelters shortly after the New Year, facing a very uncertain future.

An animal gifted as a present isn’t a Christmas Day gift, it is a life-long commitment.  Let’s be clear here.  It’s not a gift for your life, but their life.  Thinking of getting that teeny, tiny, adorable tortoise?  Are you ready to ensure its care for well over a hundred years?  Do you want a dazzling parrot?  You can plan on 60 to even 100 years of care.  Even aquatic turtles live over 30 years of age.  The average lifespan of a cat is 13 – 17 years.  A dog’s average lifespan is 10 to 13 years.  Are you ready to dedicate yourself to this animal for that long? Animals are not just pets.  They are family members for life.

Ask yourself another tough question.  Have you considered the extent of responsibility, time, care, expenses, education, commitment, and love that this one animal will require?  These responsibilities last far past Christmas day.  Take the time and do your homework on what exactly is involved by adding an animal companion to your lifestyle.

Let’s take dogs for example.  When you decide to bring home a new canine companion, please understand that you are making a commitment for the entirety of that dog’s life.  So many people that have the best intentions rush this very important and life-long decision.

The honest and informative graphic below from The Uncommon Dog should help you and your family decide if you are truly ready to welcome a dog into your home at Christmas Time.

christmas-doggie
Graphic provided by The Uncommon Dog

When the kids, wife, husband, or partner pleads for a new adorable pet, answer their request with a realistic question:  “Are you fully committed to this soul for its life?”  If either of you cannot answer with an unequivocal yes, then you might want to reconsider.

Parents, no matter how well intentioned your child may seem about caring for a new animal family member, the reality is that you will inevitably end up being the true caretaker of that animal.  Deciding to give your son or daughter that puppy or kitten that he or she has been asking for is really a decision made by the adult, to add another living, breathing, needing member of your family – for which you, the parent will be ultimately responsible.  It’s not quite the same, or as easy as investing in an iPad.

kitty gift
After the holidays are over, animal shelters are literally overwhelmed with discarded “Christmas pets”

If you decide that “gifting” an animal isn’t the best decision, consider these options as an alternative:

  • Joining Petfinder’s Foster a Lonely Pet for the holidays program. You can give a shelter dog or cat a much-needed break from the stress of shelter life.
  • Donating in-kind goods; many shelters need used blankets, sheets, and towels to make the animals more comfortable. They often need food, toys, and medical supplies. Call or check online to see your shelter’s “wish list” items.
  • Give a goat and two chickens. Through Animal World Vision, goats nourish hungry children and families with healthy milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Make a donation to your local shelter or local humane society.
  • Start an animal food drive. This can be for an animal food bank in your community, or in conjunction with other charity drives that may be taking place through your work, house of worship, or other organization.
  • Volunteer at your local shelter. You can help by walking dogs, offer love, affection, and attention to cats, assist with adoption events, and many other ways that are much needed

Think outside the animal gift box. Find another creative, thoughtful way to show your love this season.

The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its
value. ― Charles Dudley Warner