Monday, September 18, 2006

Do not overstuff...

It’s done.

Sam and Friend

I haven’t made very many stuffed animals, and I suppose I broke the cardinal rule. (Repeat after me: Do not overstuff.) The dog isn’t designed to stand on its feet. There’s no way that could happen unless you inserted some sort of rigid support system (at which point it stops being a stuffed animal and becomes a potential hazard to unsuspecting persons throwing themselves on the bed where the dog might be). But I stuffed the back legs so that they were pretty rigid. (Hey, I had the muscular Sam’s legs as a model. He never raced, he’s been a couch potato for four years, and he’s still got a nice, tight butt.) Then, when I sewed the back legs together, they stuck out at right angles. Attaching them to the body didn’t fix the problem. So I cut off the feet, unraveled the legs up to the knees, pulled out a bunch of stuffing (but maybe not enough: Do not overstuff.), recrocheted the legs and feet.

I left the front legs alone. The body has a flap that fits between the front legs, so they weren’t going to assume any flaky angles. But they’re undoubtedly fatter than they ought to be. Do not overstuff. For the body, I concentrated on getting enough stuffing in the neck area to make the head stay upright. It, at least, is not overstuffed. And I got the tail right: you put just a bit of stuffing in the top end so it’s not totally limp.

A Pair of Heads

I love the ears, though. The designer cleverly has you crochet over a length of yarn that later works like a drawstring to give the ears their characteristic “curl.”

Sam was wonderful for the photographs. The first one you see here actually was the last one I took. Sam first came over and laid himself down on the throw and put his chin flat on the ground: his usual bored-with-photography pose. The pictures looked okay because I posed the crocheted greyhound around him, and Sam tolerated the head on his, etc.

Can You Tell Us Apart?

But then I moved the greyhound away from Sam for some solo pictures of it. I laid it on its side and draped its tail up over its back leg. Sam looked at the greyhound, looked at me, and perfectly copied the pose.

(And in the background, Jacey moped: “No one wants to take my picture.”)

I'm Being Ignored

The greyhound will go with me to the SEGC meeting Wednesday night. I’ll hand it over to the people organizing Greyfest, and they can place him up for auction at the silent auction. Sam and Jacey will be happy to see him leave. As I was assembling him last night, they spent much of the evening dodging flailing legs. (It didn’t help that I had to redo parts of two already-attached legs.)

I’m moving on to a knitting project—one that doesn’t involve polyester fiberfill, shaped pieces, and a monster assembly operation. If I ever propose making another crocheted greyhound, I hope my LiveJournal friends will try to stop me by reminding me what a pain this has been.

And if you can’t make me stop, at least make me remember: Do not overstuff.

The pattern is available here. Greyfest info here.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


Got up early today to take the dogs to a Meet and Greet. Sam hasn't been to one in years, and Jacey has never been. But Sam dropped right back into pet-me-pet-me mode, and Jacey got it figured out pretty quickly. Today's M&G was at the Marietta Farmers Market. One of the dogs there was the charming--and very tempting--Billie Holliday, the tiny little Oreo look-alike. Billie has been in a foster home for two weeks and is doing well, but she desperately wants her own home and her own person to love. (She's in a foster home where the two live-in dogs don't like her. They don't fight with her; they just totally ignore her attempts to make friends and her invitations to play.) If my condo complex didn't have a two-pet limit, I'd take her in a heartbeat. As it is, I find myself very tempted to see just how serious the complex is about enforcing the limit. (I know at least one condo here with three dogs in it--but they're all small dogs.) I keep telling myself that A--I can't afford a third dog, and B--It would not be fair to take her in and then have to return her because the condo complex did insist on enforcing the limit. I know she'll find a good home if I just leave her in the adoption program and let the system take its course. But oh, what a sweetie...

We got home from the M&G and all three of us collapsed and slept for hours, exhausted by the heat as much as anything. I've been up a while, working on the crocheted greyhound. (About 20 more rows on the last leg to do; then assembly--which probably will be difficult. It often is.) I'll probably stay up late tonight. I can sleep late tomorrow; the Yappy Hour brunch (in downtown Atlanta with the dogs) doesn't start until 1 pm.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Jacey at the vet's (again)

Poor Jacey had to have the needle-in-the-bladder experience Tuesday. Three times.

The urine sample I took to the vet's showed signs of a lingering infection, despite two weeks on antibiotics. And it is important to determine whether the infection is in the bladder or not before treatment, so the vet needed a sterile sample from the bladder. Hence, the needle.

He poked once. Oops, that was the colon. He poked again. Still not right. She needed to have a super-full bladder to make it easier to hit the target. (Bless her heart, she just stood there through the whole thing--not a whimper, not a twitch.) So the vet said to take her home, fill 'er up, bring her back in four hours. I could have left her there, but since she has separation anxiety issues, I didn't want to do that. And I didn't want her to associate the vet's office with "the place where Mom takes her and abandons her."

So I took her home. To encourage her to drink, we got nice salty french fries on our way home. She liked that part. But she turned up her nose at water--at first. So the diabolical mom squirted some maple syrup onto the bottom of an empty dish and let her sniff. And start licking. That's when I added water. She lapped faster and faster trying to get the syrup out before the water diluted it too much. (Then Sam came over and drank the rest of the water.) And we did it again. (Sam's part, too.)

Consider: How do you get the dog's bladder full--but not too full--at exactly the right time and the right place?

Answer: You don't.

Before we started back to the vet's, she was whining to go out. Instead, I took Sam out so he'd be okay to leave at home. Jacey, left in the house, decided to relieve that aching bladder. Hmmm. Back to the drawing board.

I took her early to the vet's. And I took more maple syrup...and her dish, and a bottle of water. She obediently drank more water. Then she started pacing, started to whine, started to squat... "No-no-no-no-no!" She jumped up. I hollered to the staff, "I know we're early for our appointment, but you'd better move fast or she'll flood the waiting room." They moved.

Bingo! Success with the needle. And while they spun the sample to get the proper sediment to test, Jacey got to go outside. Three times. The poor, water-logged dog was positively perky by the time she finished.

The test showed that the infection in the bladder has been cleared up. This means it's safe to put her on hormones to tighten the muscles to stop the "slow leak" she developed from taking the Clomicalm (for her anxiety). (You don't want to tighten the muscles and trap an infection inside the bladder, which is why the vet needed to be sure where the problem was. But the minor leak has meant an almost constant presence of urine in areas that shouldn't have that presence; hence, the remaining infection, which won't respond to antibiotics, but will clear up once the leaking stops.)

These hormones are not something humans take, so you can't fill this prescription in a general pharmacy. And the vet can't do it. He knows of one pharmacy in the metro area that can compound the formula. I looked up their address on MapQuest yesterday, so I could go there after work today. MapQuest conveniently neglected to warn me about a critical one-way street. I detoured, I wandered, I circled, I finally found the KenMar Medical Building and pulled in the parking be greeted by a banner that read "The KenMar Pharmacy temporarily has relocated to 55 Whichert Street." I hauled out the map book, re-detoured and re-circled, and found the building. (Free parking for 20 minutes and under. $3 for 21 minutes to two hours.) I found the pharmacy. They filled the prescription ($28). I was back in my car and in line for the parking lot exit--in 25 minutes. The pharmacist said that if I need refills I should call ahead and they'll have them waiting. I'm hoping not to need a refill. This 30-pill prescription should last through Christmas, by which time I'm really hoping she'll be all well. (One pill a day for five days; two pills a week for two weeks; one to two pills a week thereafter.)

Today I took the dogs down to a neighbor's to try to get some nice flower-enhanced pictures of them for the 2007 SEGA calendar. I just timed it right since the neighbor is planning to pick flowers Thursday morning. Between Sam's butt-sniffing and Jacey's "Can I play dead?" pose, you've never seen two dogs less interested in having their pictures taken.

''Can I sniff her butt while you take her picture?''

''Can I play dead?''

But I did get some nice shots. And I have another week or two before the photos are due.