By Linda Wilson Fuoco Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Sandra Smith needed a sturdy collar with metal hardware to hold her dog, so she created one. Now she is sharing her creative collars with pet owners everywhere.
Sandra Smith has been making things her entire life. So when she couldn't find a collar that suited Scout, her 55-pound pit bull mix, she used her sewing machine to make one.
Collars she saw in pet stores "were too cute-sy," she said, and many had weak plastic closures or rings to attach to the leash.
Scout was 8 weeks old when she found him in a ditch 10 years ago. He is a sweet and loving pet but is sometimes "reactive" to other dogs. When he reaches the end of his leash, Smith needed a sturdy collar with metal hardware to hold him.
Four years ago, she made a few collars for Scout. Now she makes 1,000 a year and it's her second job. Each Scout Dog collar bears the company name and the profile of a black dog that looks like Scout. The website is http://scoutdogcollars.com/.
In photos, Scout, 10, wears a red-and-white plaid collar that contrasts nicely with his black fur. Smith's other dog, an 11-year-old Great Pyrenees mix named Gracie, wears a collar with a pink print.
Scout and Gracie each have four collars because Smith says she's "a collar junkie." She made each dog a new collar for classes at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, "like for the first day of school."
The highest priced collar is $26; for an additional $6, the dog's name and owner's telephone number can be embroidered on. Scotchgard is applied to make the collars stain-resistant.
"I like to use vibrant colors," Smith says.
She also sells a $5 "tag caddy" on her website. It allows collar junkies to easily remove the tags from one collar and attach them to another.
Initially she used a regular sewing machine in her Shaler, Pa., home. "After killing four machines, I invested in an industrial sewing machine."
Her full-time job is in the programming department at the Sen. John Heinz History Center in the Strip District. She spends about 20 hours a week making the dog collars.
Scout Dog Collars are available online http://scoutdogcollars.com/ and at local shops.