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My husband is a veterinarian. When people learn this, nearly every time it leads to one of 2 predictable responses. The person either says, "I bet you have a lot of pets!" or they ask, "So how many pets do you have?" It's one of those things in life that makes me chuckle.
The truth is, I always thought we probably didn't own any more pets than the average family. I just turned to the source of infinite and instant information, Google, for an answer. According to the Humane Society, 39 percent of households own a dog and, on average, owners have almost 2 dogs. Thirty-three percent of households own a cat and, on average, owners own 2 cats.
So how many pets do we own? We are the proud owners of 2 Irish Setters, 1 Italian Greyhound, and 1 cat who thinks, and acts like, she is a dog. I don't know if that means we are way above average as dog owners or if we are moderately above average as dog owners and below average as cat owners. I do know that, regardless of the statistics, I spend a lot of time washing pet beds.
The frequent bed washing isn't simply because we have 4 pets. We live on a farm, and I'm sure you can derive from that bit of information that our dogs can get pretty smelly. They are part of the family so, just like our other kids, they are never denied a night of sleep under our roof. They aren't as highly exalted as our human children who have their own bedrooms, but, regardless of the level of pollution they add to the air in the room, they do sleep on their pet beds on the living room floor.
In addition to the smells that result from their curiosities and rolling habits, one of our Irish Setters is 14 years old. Her body is wearing out, and she sometimes has accidents while she's sleeping.
And, finally, there is the Italian Greyhound. They are notorious for being buggers to house train. Diligent attention while crate training leads to eventual success for most owners of them. Unfortunately for me, I have one who doesn't believe that cleanliness is next to godliness. If he has to go, he goes, even in a confined area. Not being one who wants to bathe my dog every day, I keep him on a leash when he is indoors, with access to his bed when I can't give him my undivided attention. This works well most of the time, but sometimes he forgets to give me a warning call and, due to the absence of trees or fire hydrants in our home, he uses his bed.
Normally, pet bed washing occurs at least 3 days a week in our house. Tiring of the time it requires to wash and dry them and guilt over the amount of energy the dryer uses each week to dry all that stuffing out, I decided to make pet beds with a lining that would protect the stuffing from moisture and odors. With the stuffing protected, the covers are the only part of the bed that require washing. This saves time and electricity as all 4 bed covers can be washed together and they dry much quicker than the whole bed full of stuffing. The waterproof lining can be wiped clean.
If you want a pet bed that is more decorative in shape than a standard bed-pillow shape, there are patterns available for purchase that can guide you through the process. If you want just a basic square, this project couldn't be any easier. Even someone just beginning to learn to sew can make these with minimal, if any, frustration.
I chose to use velcro as a closure because it's easier and quicker to attach than a zipper, it won't scratch hardwood floors, and it's not going to break as zippers sometimes do.
The fabric used for a pet bed should be a heavier weight one such as corduroy or canvas.
Begin the cover by cutting a piece of fabric for the top to the dimensions you desire plus 1/2 inch on each side for seam allowances. The tops of my beds had a cut size of 34 inches x 28 inches.
The bottom layer will be made from 2 pieces to allow for an opening with a velcro closure. To determine the cut size for the bottom pieces, divide the length of the top piece by 2. To that number, add 3 1/2 inches for the velcro edge and overlapping of the 2 pieces. The height will be the same. Cut 2 pieces to this size. So my 2 pieces each measured 20.5 inches x 28 inches.
On each piece, fold one edge over 1 inch and press it with an iron. Fold it over 1 inch again and press. Pin a length of sew-in velcro to each folded edge and stitch in place.
Attach the 2 pieces together so the velcro pieces overlap and stick together. Center the velcro closed strip over the top of the cover piece which should be lying right-side up. Pin the layers together, trim off any excess fabric to even the edges of the layers up, and stitch around the perimeter.
Since these will get a lot of wear and tear by being frequently washed, the edges should be finished. This can be done with a serger, by zig-zag stitching around the perimeter, or by trimming with a pair of Fiskars Pinking Shears.
To make the bed waterproof, you can make the liner for it out of a new shower curtain. I recommend a heavier weight curtain as it will be less likely to tear. Cut 2 pieces to the same dimensions of the fabric cover. Mine was cut to 34 inches x 28 inches. Using the longest stitch on your machine, stitch the 2 pieces together leaving a fairly large (about 10 inches) opening for inserting stuffing. Using too short of a stitch length puts the perforations too close together making the material more likely to rip over time.
You can purchase a large bag of stuffing material or you can do as I did and buy inexpensive pillows. By unfolding the stuffing insert at the center, I found it to be exactly the size I needed so it was quicker and easier than working with a bag of stuffing, and I didn't have to work lumps out of it. I used 1 1/2 standard pillows per bed.
Stitch the opening of the liner close, but leave a couple of 1 inch sections unstitched. This will allow air to escape from the bed when the dog lies on it. Not leaving these openings will not allow the air to escape from it quickly enough and make the bed similar to a balloon. Your dog may not be able to lie on it or may be uneasy trying to.
Heavier-weight fabric such as corduroy or canvas.
My beds required 1.25 yards of 60 inch wide fabric or 2 1/3 yards of 45 inch fabric.
60 inch fabric was ideal for leaving little "waste."
Thread, 1 1/2 standard pillow per bed or a large bag of fibefill, sew in velcro measuring the width of the bed, shower curtain.