In June 2014, we were devastated by the sudden death of one of our dogs, Tobermory, from an aggressive spinal infection. Although we had lots of photos of Tobermory, we felt that we didn’t have anything of ‘him’. After seeing a ceramic pawprint that a friend had done of their dog, I was determined that I’d have a permanent reminder of Molly & Tomsk, our other Newfoundland dogs.
I ordered a couple of DIY ceramic pawprint kits – but they were no good as they were far too small for a giant Newfie paw! Then I tried with a bucket of air-drying clay. Molly was no problem (offer her some food, and she’d do anything!); Tomsk, on the other hand, has very tickly feet and ran away every time I appeared with the clay.
Following a near-miss when I accidentally dropped Molly’s print; my partner Ian suggested looking at ways of getting their pawprints that we could use over and over again, and on different things. Casting sprang to mind! Ian died suddenly in October 2014, and the idea was put on hold.
By now Molly was, at age 11, an elderly lady and I was determined to have a permanent reminder of her, should I ever drop her pawprint again! I ordered some quick drying amalgam, I decided to have a go at casting Molly’s paw. After all, how difficult could it be? It was a complete disaster! I needed to find a less stressful method (for Molly and me!) and one that was far less messy. Poor Molly had bits of solidified pink ‘goo’ in her fur for weeks!
By chance one day, I came across a kit for taking prints of a baby’s hand and foot that used inkless technology so was apparently very easy and quick to use, completely safe and with no mess involved. That was my lightbulb moment!
Following the trauma of the casting disaster, Molly was wary of me going near her paws. 10 minutes later (and her favourite treats), I had 3 clear images of her paw print. She was too interested in the treats to notice me wiping her paw and placing her paw on the special paper.
A month later, Molly passed away in my arms. I had her paw prints on a single piece of paper; but apart from copying them what else could I do? Well if I could copy them, I could scan them, and then I’d have a print that could be used as many times as I wanted.
Ian’s mum and dad had been very close to Molly and they were very upset when she died. I used her scanned paw print to make a print that I was able to put on a candle for them; which became known as the Molly Candle. Eventually, I got Tomsk’s paw print and at that point, I thought that would be it. But it was something I couldn’t stop thinking about. It was an itch that I couldn’t scratch. Everyone I talked loved the idea, so I decided to scratch the itch!
- This doesn’t just have to be for dogs. Why not cats, horses, birds, rabbits etc.?
- It doesn’t just have to be for memories; you could have pet products with your own pet print on them e.g. bowls, mats, bedding, coats, treat jars
- And don’t forget the humans the pets love and own. How about a t-shirt with your own horse’s hoof print all over it, or a personalised mug from your rabbit?
But it needed a name. And it couldn’t include the word ‘paw’ as this wasn’t just about dogs and cats!. Then I remembered that as a kid, my mum would tell me off if I tried to sneak a sweet from the sweet bowl by saying “Hilary, keep your mitts off”!
How about Petmitts? I immediately knew that Petmitts was the perfect name as it has very personal meaning for me; the letters of the word ‘mitts’ stand for Molly, Ian, Tobermory, Tomsk and my surname Snowdon.
Petmitts was born!