Introduction: Turn Your Vehicle Into a Dog

About: Your basic "my interests are all over the place" hobbyist.

My son was a cub scout and the scouts participate in our local Xmas parade each year. So I decided to create an "Up" movie float, since the character Russel in the movie was a "Wilderness Explorer" an organization loosely based on the Cub Scouts. My goal was to turn our old 1999 Plymouth Voyager Van into "Dug the Dog" from the movie with animated eyes and the talking dog collar. And part of the mission was to incorporate some "Recycle, Reduce, and Reuse" materials into the build to follow the scouting traditions.

Step 1: The Plan

First I sketched out the ideas I wanted to incorporate. These included the dog van and the house with balloons coming out the top. This Instructable will only be documenting the build process of the dog van.

Step 2: Covering the Van

I wanted to be able to use the van after the parade. So I purchased a van cover from Ebay.

Step 3: Creating the Dog Snout, Ears and Tail

In the next step we cut out the window openings from the van cover, and laid out the cardboard and cut them to the shape of the dog snout, ears and tail. I didn't like the first set of ears though, so I scrapped them.

Step 4: The Dog Nose

To give the cardboard nose a little dimension, we used a can of spray foam from Lowes to add some dimension and then spray painted it black. I also cut out a tongue, painted it and hung it from the nose with bailing wire.

Step 5: Hardening the Cardboard Snout

Once the you are happy with the basic shape of the cardboard snout, you cover it in Bondo to create a hard shell out of it. I added four U shaped metal strips to the top underside of the snout that slide under the top of the hood to attach it to the van and some recycled packing foam under the cardboard to keep the lift of the snout at an upward angle.

We had rain during the two weeks of this build and I was very happy that the cardboard with a Bondo shell retained its shape.

Step 6: Creating the Fur

Next I covered the van cover in light brown plush felt with a hot glue gun. It took about 26 yards at $6 a yard. I also added a cardboard tongue. The nose and the tongue were hung with bailing wire through the grill of the van. The structure of the ears were made out of thin flat steel bent into the appropriate ear shape and attach to the roof rack with two bolts and nuts. The tail was made out of thin flat steel, cardboard and attached to the roof rack by two bolts and nuts as well.

Step 7: Adding Character

The next steps involved using a Sharpie to draw in the areas I wanted to paint to give more depth. Then I used shades on brown and black paint to cartoon out the dog face. I bought two clear plastic bowls from Smart and Final. I gave them a thin coating of white paint on the inside; as I projected moving animated eyes from a projector inside the van. (Not necsessay though, you can just glue two pupils on them as seen in the above pictures). Cut out holes just under the size of the bowls into the felt in front of the windshield and hot glue them into place from the inside seam to create the eyes. I also added eyelashes made from leftover cheap battery powered fiber optic table toppers from a past birthday party. They worked great as light up eyelashes. They are battery powered and I also made a cut in the felt and glued them into place with a hot glue gun.

Step 8: Dug's Gizmo Collar

To make Dug's Talking Collar, I used brown felt and hot glue to make the collar, broken electronic equipment we had around the house to make things with dials or slider, and wrapped them in EL wire with battery packs so they would light up.

Step 9: Outlining Features

Since this was a night time parade, I outlined the upper and lower jaw, nose and tongue in EL wire by sewing it to the felt to make those features stand out and make the dog face pop at night.

Step 10: Its the Little Things

I thought the dog van looked a little toothless, so I took caulk and made some teeth which I let dry over night and hot glued to the mouth area. The last thing I added was a webcam that is hiding in the nose, so I could drive the van along the parade route by using a computer monitor on the dash of the van. And the best thing was at the end of the parade, I just pulled the van cover off and I had the van back for usage. Voila, the dog van build.