Meet Charlie, a 50 pound Chow Chow/Husky mix who has stolen my heart and littered my carpet. Remnants of his furry mane cover my home -- the black spot on the carpet where he sleeps, the chunks of fur on the living room floor where he scratches himself or the fists full of black fur my kids keep bringing me are all indicators of an excessive fur problem.
But what am I to do with all of this fur? I suppose I could just toss it, but where's the fun in that?
No, the pack rat in me simply will not take "throw it away" as a solution, so I've come up with a few other ideas to keep it out of the garbage -- and my carpet -- while having a little fun with it, too.
Toss it in the compost
Pet fur is extremely beneficial to your garden or compost pile. That's because pet air (as well as human hair) is filled with nitrogen -- a key ingredient in most fertilizers to promote plant growth.
Though it may take a while for Charlie fur to decompose (roughly one to two years), as it does, my garden will get the boost in nutrients it needs to thrive.
Deter unwanted pests
It never fails. I take great care to grow seedlings indoors, harden them off sufficiently then put them in the ground only to come back a day or two later to find them devoured by the birds and squirrels that live in our near-by trees.
But I've recently learned that pet hair can actually keep them out of a garden, too. By sprinkling Charlie's fur around the edges of my beds, I have been able to keep these pests away thanks to the unpleasant odor of the fur.
Or perhaps it's Charlie's constant barking that keeps them away. Either way, I'm convinced the pet fur is working.
I know, "Smelly Dog" probably isn't the aroma most people would imagine in a potpourri, but by deodorizing Charlie's fur first by washing it with vinegar, mild soap and water then allowing it to dry, I can create my own little potpourri satchel. All I need is a little draw-string pouch, my favorite essential oils and some left-over fur and I've got the perfect way to freshen my car or underwear drawer.
Turn it into yarn
Huskies produce a ton of fur, and it's the perfect length and consistency with which to make yarn out of. All I have to do is clean and deodorize it in the same way mentioned above, then spin it into a thin yarn by twisting it between my fingers (it will resemble little dread locks).
After I've got the length of yarn I need, I can make myself my own blanket or mittens -- I just have to learn how to knit first.
Give it to the birds
With Spring in the air, many new bird families will be making nests for their babies. Why not give them something really soft to construct it out of?
I know how much I love to rub my face in my dog's coat, so I figured the birds would love it, too. So, every now and then, I will toss some of Charlie's excess fur into one of their favorite trees and hope they find it. If it's working, then some little bird family is very happy with me. If not, then my neighbors may be getting a bit irritated by finding clumps of fur in their yards again. If the latter is true, then I apologize, guys.
Though I haven't officially signed up for this one, I've read about services that will trap pet fur in ceramic, amber or glass. They say it's a great way to honor the life of a pet well after they've passed, but for now, I think I'll just stick to wearing it in my clothing -- every single stitch of clothing I own.
Clean up oil spills
Hopefully everyone understands that oil should not go down the drain, into gutters or onto the lawn, but then how are you supposed to clean up a spill? Though cat litter is a common go-to in this case, it is expensive and Miss Kitty really doesn't seem to like people taking away her toilet sand.
Luckily for my cat, pet hair works just as well as kitty litter, and is readily available in my home. That's why I like to keep a bag of dog hair in the garage at all times in case of another oil spill.
Fur can also be used to clean up major oil spills, as well. Some companies such as MatterofTrust.org graciously accepts pet fur donations to help clean up any sea creatures that have been affected by such disaster. If I have any fur left over after all of my projects, I might just have to donate some, too.
I remember very vividly the day we met Charlie, locked in a cage during PetSmart's puppy adoption day. He was so little and so furry, and I wanted him because of his adorable fluff.
As adorable as he was then, I had no idea what I was getting in to. I mean, I've had dogs -- pugs, specifically (who have their own shedding problem) -- but never one that was quite the fur factory as Charlie is.
Fortunately for me, having an excess of something rarely means tossing it into the garbage can. Thanks to a little creativity -- and a lot of dog hair -- I was able to create some extraordinary things out of something as simple as dog hair.
Do you have any creative ways to re-use old pet fur? If so, share them with me here or on Facebook. Because learning is so much more fun when we can all do it together.