It's no secret that we love to spoil our dogs, but we're also conscious of our environmental pawprints. In honour of Earth Day this Saturday, we're sharing some of our own DIY "Toy Hospital" methods for extending toy life for longer lasting fun as well as how materials can be repurposed before becoming waste.
Preventative Medicine - Picking suitable toys, keeping them clean, and checking for safety on a regular basis can help to extend the useful play life. Quick repairs are much easier than major surgery.
Toy Triage - When a toy is compromised (bought or homemade), it goes into our hospital basket - a simple storage place for damaged items to keep them away from the pets until I have time to look at them for repair or scrap.
Stitches, Grafts, and Amputations - A quick stitch on a small hole or failing seam are the simplest treatments. For rips and tears, sewing the tear closed may be viable depending on location/material or patching might be more viable. Fleece is a handy patching material since the edges don't fray, and I always have lots of offcuts available in my crafty scrap stash. Whether hand-down or machine sown, make sure any patches are securely attached, just like any element of a toy, for safety. Surgery is a good opportunity to remove and replace damaged squeakers, if you'd like. Depending on the materials, you can also bag a damaged toy in mesh laundry bag and give it a thorough cleaning before replacing/repairing, if you wish.
For edges and ends, patches may be viable or amputations might be an easier/safer option. It's all case- by-case in our toy hospital. Bunny (seen above) had a tailectomy at one point but the mouth was a later patch-job. The cacti toys were both sewn and amputated at different locations over time. Things can get a bit Frankenstein looking, but dogs don't care! Love bone, which Humphrey wanted to play with constantly, was patched in several places and was actually all the cuter for it! For tug toys, knot repairs or trimming loose/torn bits are quick and easy life-extenders.
Organ Donation - When a toy is too damaged to be worth the effort or too far gone to safely repair, I take it apart for scrap or disposal. For softies, the easiest reuse is the usually stuffing. I pull it out and pop it into a simple mesh lingerie/delicate laundry bag so that it can be machine washed and air dried in the sack (just like a pillow!) and returned to my supply stash for future toys. If squeakers are still functional, they can also be reused. Usually the exterior materials aren't salvaged; however, if there are large useable pieces, they can be washed and salvaged just like the stuffing. For other toys, salvage is case by case. Here's a special Earth Day tug toy example of the ball from a Beco ball and rope toy being reused after the rope was no longer viable, made by weaving the salvaged Beco ball into the center of a simple twisted box knot (or circle twist) fleece tug: