From rags to wags

by Matthew Allen
photo courtesy of Jessica Palmer Borders

When Emma Borders saw a stuffed owl in her grandmother’s basket of dog toys, she couldn’t help but pick it up.

“Owls are her favorite animals,” said Jessica Palmer Borders, her mother and an optometrist in Chelsea. “She was sad to see that the plush owl toy had been roughed up by her grandmother’s dog.”

Emma Borders holds one of her rehabilitated dog toys.

So, Emma, a third grader, decided to use her sewing skills to repair the owl. Pretty soon, she was seeking out other stuffed dog toys to repair.

“I put stuffing in them and put felt on the spots we cannot fix,” she says. “My mom taught me how to do it.”

Emma’s hobby has grown into a desire to do good through her work. Her mother began sharing photos of the repaired toys on social media, and Emma’s desire to help repair old dog toys became a semi-regular activity.

People offered to pay her, but Emma wouldn’t keep the money for herself. “She gives her money to Shelby Humane,” Jessica explains. “We adopted her fur siblings, Chunk and Cricket, from there, so that is where she wants to donate her earnings from.”

Emma is offering simple sewing and stitching repairs to stuffed animal toys for $3.50 per toy plus the cost to ship it back to the owner. Or, toys can be dropped off at her mother’s office, Eyes on Chelsea Vision Care, and be picked up there when they’re ready. The office is located at 10699 Old Highway 280, Building 2, in Chelsea. Hours are Monday-Thursday, 8:30-5:00, and Friday, 8:30-noon. For more information, email


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