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By Andy Ross

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The Coast Salish wool dog

While it may be somewhat odd for some of us to think of using dog hair as a weaving material - after all, dogs are our friends not a farmed species - for some it is highly prized.

The Coast Salish dog has been extinct now for more than a hundred years but for a thousand years or so it was looked after as a producer of wool for weavers. Apparently kept separate from other canines and fed a special diet to keep the coat glossy, the hair from the animals was mixed with other fibres and then woven into blankets which were valuable for warmth and, more importantly, for cultural identity. Thanks to our friends over at AtlasObscura you can read all about one particular blanket and how important it is to Coast Salish people. 

I must admit to being squeamish about the practice normally but this seems different. Perhaps it is the fact that these dogs were kept specifically for this purpose and not as pets, or perhaps it is the fact that this wool was the only raw material of its quality in the area. Whatever the reason the anthropological aspects of the blanket are intriguing and interesting.