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Some of my very favourite memories are of special outings with my dogs.
Travelling with Kolchak and Felix. Wandering the woods together. Playing at our favourite park by the river. I love exploring pet friendly vacation locales and planning fun ways to find adventures here at home. Whether it be a trip we make all the time to a favourite location or a once in a lifetime vacation, I always crave a way to capture that memory in more than pictures. Photo albums are lovely, but they never seem to bring me that same warm, fuzzy feeling I had when I was there, you know?
My trip to Huntington Beach is a perfect example.
Even though Koly and Fe stayed home with their Daddy, this trip was totally dog friendly. I got the chance to meet my dear friend Wendy and her three labradors, Logan, Dodger & Reba and they took me for a day of fun in the sun.
Nestled on the Pacific Coast Highway there is a mile-long stretch of beach that’s gone to the dogs, literally. Huntington Dog Beach is one of the prettiest stretches I’ve been too (and considering there have to be about a hundred dogs there, one of the cleanest!). After a day of playing ball with the pups, I was tired, but oh so fulfilled. I look back at the pictures and I smile, but for me, pictures are kind of…blah.
I knew I had to take a little piece of this paradise home with me as a reminder of my amazing vacation and a day spent with friends.
I really enjoy having nods to my Dog Crazy in my every day home decor, but I don’t want the whole house to scream I LOVE DOGS. I rarely pick up dog shaped knick knacks, I confine my dog art (for the most part) to my office and while my furniture is dog friendly, it’s not dog furniture. (Even the dog beds are actually human floor cushions). I like this project because it’s a very subtle nod to my dog memories without beating people over the head with it.
It’s super easy to do and the same idea can be used to capture the heart your favourite place to hang out with your dogs.
A word of warning though! Not all parks will allow you to collect materials. Even if your park allows it, be respectful and take only the bare minimum that you will use. And for the love of woof, if you’re planning to fly home with it, do not pack it into a compact “brick” shape and bundle it up in the middle of your carry on luggage. After your bag has gone through the scanner 3 or 4 times and you realize that there is a burly TSA Agent giving you the stare down, you *might* find yourself explaining how you just want to do crafts and that you aren’t smuggling illicit drugs, you swear, officer. I don’t want to go to airport jail. It was awkward, yo, but I digress.
What do you need:
- A small glass vase or bowl – I picked mine up at the Dollar Store
- A base – For me, this was my beach sand and some tiny rocks, for you it might be some pebbles from the river bank or the dirt that makes your dog’s favourite mud puddle
- Greenery – If your favourite spot is a lush green space, you’ll need to improvise a bit. I highly recommend crafters moss as a good grass substitute or you can try faux plastic grass. Aquarium decor or miniatures (like the doll house ones) often have some great tree & bush options!
- “Interest” – This can be anything that that makes your park special. For the dog beach I chose a tiny piece of coral, a dried sea plant, some shells, and a piece of the stick Logan gave me.
- Something Extra – Even once I had put together the beach, something was still missing. In an AHA moment, I realized that so much of the day was spent playing ball with Dodger. I put in a tiny tennis ball and it was perfect. Maybe your dog loves their ball. Maybe it’s a favourite toys, one of their old dog tags, a collar around the vase…whatever you can do to bring a bit of your dog to the presentation
Fill your container 2/3 full of your base. Place any greenery and large interest items in first. If needed (in the case of harder, rockier base materials), you can glue large items in place with crafters glue. Adding your smaller items as needed and rearrange as you go. You’ll “feel” what’s right. As you play around with it, you’ll hit that magic arrangement that makes you go YES! This is what I remember. If you’re me, you’ll be tempted to keep searching for an even MORE perfect arrangement, but tell that little voice to shut the woof up. It’s perfect now.
The vase has a place of honour on my living room shelf.
Every time I look at it, I’m swept back to that day: the wind in my hair, the sand between my toes and the laughter and barking of some good friends. That’s what vacations are all about right, making happy memories?
What is the best adventure you’ve ever been on with your dog? Did you bring back anything to remember it by?