Many owners like me enjoy having little keepsakes of their dogs so that long after they are gone, there’s a tangible reminder of that dog’s existence and presence in our lives. I have collars and tags from my previous Corgis, of course show ribbons, photos, toys, etc. and those things make me smile and remember those wonderful dogs.
But one thing I absolutely treasure is Schatsi’s practice retrieving dumbbell. We spent hundreds and hundreds of hours working together on his Open and Utility exercises….perfecting them for the show ring. After he died, I contemplated washing off all of the dog spit, to clean it up for the next dog. For some reason, I held off on that, and I’m so so glad that I did! I currently use that little dumbbell as a paperweight on my desk and it has such sweet sentiment to me. When I’m feeling nostalgic, I can pick it up, and I can see his teeth marks on it, and see the dirt and grime….and it takes me back to the mid 1980’s….to a little dog who was always up for an adventure, and for training, and who loved to work.
So today, I thought it might be nice to create a tangible little token of Rugby that will be fun to use in many different ways at home. It’s a paw print out of simple salt dough. The recipe is actually for kids to make hand/foot prints, so I made two paw prints, because I just didn’t need as much dough for a little guy like Rugby. I think two prints will work well for most dogs, or you can just cut the recipe in half when you make one.
After I had the dough mixed up, I thought about using parchment paper so that it wouldn’t stick to the pan. Unfortunately, the dough did stick to the parchment paper, so I ended up putting flour on the parchment paper as I put my little rounds down.
I just flattened them by hand, but if you want to use a rolling pin, that would be fine too. I liked it looking a little imperfect, because that’s who Rugby and I really are! I even ended up with a few dog furs in it as well, and that made me smile.
Once I flattened them on the parchment paper, I put the rounds on the floor and was ready to have Rugby step on them. What I didn’t count on, was that he would think they smelled wonderful, and he took a bite out of the dough. I grabbed him right away, and he started to growl, because duh….resource guarder. Fortunately, he and I have worked on this issue a whole lot, and so it was only low level growling and no biggie. I ended up using a muzzle for him just to be safe, and he seemed much happier having me imprint a back paw rather than a front paw. (If your dog is a strong resource guarder, I would not recommend this project. If he is comfortable with a muzzle, as Rugby is, you can try that to stay safe).
The dough is very soft, so you honestly don’t need very much pressure from your dog to make the imprint. I put too much pressure on the first few that I made, so it actually displaced all of the dough, and I ended up with a bald place where one of his toes had gone to the floor through the dough. It’s an easy repair, though, because you can simply start all over with the dough until you get an imprint that you like. After the fact, I thought I could have written Rugby’s name on one of the rounds to bake that into the print, but I think I’m going to personally like just the simplicity of the paw print alone.
After the prints are baked, you can paint them if you like. They would make nice gifts for your vet, pet sitter, dog walker, etc. They can be varnished to preserve them, and then you can put them out in a garden as special stones. I may make more of them, just to tuck into special garden spots. Because Rugby was so very interested in eating the dough, I’m not going to take any chance that he might want to eat them, so if I put them in the garden, it will be in an area where he has no access! I would like to put one of them in a shadowbox someday, with a nice frame…to serve as a memory of this little dog who has completely changed my life!