Sunday, August 20, 2017

Belly Up

My newest rescued setter Sherlock has been dominance subjugated (I hate to say trained) by his previous owners…and he's a classic case of appeasement belly up and freeze with a nervous tip of the tail wag. He's totally ticklish and hates being touched or stroked below the waist, front or back. I can empathize, I'm totally ticklish too, all depends on the timing and the calm strength of the touch. I'm working on desensitizing Sherlock to enjoy gentle but firm butt rub massages. So far this is only possible when he's totally relaxed on the sofa or waiting for treats from a trusted friend, and more receptive to or else totally distracted from complaining about massage style new experience around his lower back (clearly he only expects pain there). I can only touch his rear hindquarters or belly and genital area when he's in the shower being lathered up.
A recent post at Reisner Veterinary Behavior Services talks about people who are not aware of this and think belly up is asking for a belly rub, ending up being shocked when they get bitten. 
Like kissing, the belly-up position is one of the most misunderstood interactions in the human-dog social lexicon.... It’s not uncommon for dogs to lie still while their belly is being rubbed, then quickly snap or bite at the hand as it’s withdrawn. (While the hand is doing its rubbing, they are likely in “freeze” mode, quickly “thawing” to a defensive bite when it’s done.)...Is rolling on the back ever an invitation to pet and rub, then? ...Unless you know your dog very well, it is safest to assume they’re uncomfortable. A good test is to sit nearby or walk away, clapping your hands and talking in a silly, happy voice. Most dogs will flip upright and join you happily, unstressed.
Dogs don't bite out of the blue. We just need to have the right phrasebook.
You can see by Nobunaga's wide smile that he's ready for dog-human interaction of any kind from belly rubs and pats to playful tug-of-war sessions...he's ever the first to relax, lie down and eventually roll over to invite play if there's no interaction coming. If there's still nothing happening after a greeting interlude, he'll play dead as we try to walk on, and I have to drop the leash, walk up the street and do a mini recall session to make him feel noticed and loved.
Photos by Yakob Miyajima

Saturday, August 19, 2017

English Setter Thunderstorm

 With an almighty thunvderstorm coming through it's been a wild ride on the's an incredible photo from my photographer friend Vincent van den Storme to give you an idea of the unleashed fury!
Fortunately my setters are not the least bit thunder sensitive, although Claire came by to let me know she wanted a chewy. Nothing like a good chew to keep calm and forget the weather is wild out there.
 In spite of knitting for charity, my babies still have their own fantastic doggie scarves knitted up over the years...I washed and aired them today, and rather than starting on a new knitting project (although I have a couple in my mind, some new short row techniques to be attempted and plain purl combination patterns to be explored) I took these pics. 
 Sherlock is sporting Chiaro di Luna's wee scarf, and Nobu even has two scarves to choose from, a red Puppy yarn tweedy one and an orange Italian fluffy one.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Setter Scarf Basketweave with Forget-me-nots

Basketweave with Forget-me-knots took a while to make as I was busy finding the yarn for the embroidery, and clearing the backlog of laundry after the incessant days of rain. It's totally inspired by Chiaro di Luna, so made to go well with creamy fur: when I made the embroidered roses scarf, it jumped into my mind and would not let go, so it was a kind of high to go with the flow and make it happen.
While I was knitting I was glancing over Facebook, and a Japanese doggie acquaintance was talking about Ted Andrews book, Animal Speak. I didn't want to go clogging my bookshelf with another tome, so I got on the net and found a digest explaining various animal meanings, in particular, dogs: 
It takes a lot to break a dog’s spirit. Its ability to love, even when abused, is tremendous. Its spirit and willingness to love and to be a companion is great. Study your dog. ...If dog has come into your life as a totem, ask yourself some questions. What is this saying about your need for or lack of companionship? ...Do you need to be more protective of your territory? Do you need to play a little more? Are you being faithful to yourself? Does you spirit need bolstering? How about those around you? Examine your territories. Dog knows its home ground, and if it has shown up, its energies and lessons will touch you personally.
All very deep and interesting, and as I read and pondered and knitted, I felt something in my hair, and reached up to brush off what turned out to be a white flower spider. I'd never seen a white spider before, so after realizing what it was, I eased it onto a handy piece of paper and blew it away outside. At which point I realized this was a very encouraging and lucky omen, Chiaro di Luna was a cream setter too, and so the knitting of Forget-me-not is doubly blessed. May it bring great happiness to its future owner, and lots of funds for Gundog Rescue CACI.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Setter Scarf Basketweave with Roses

One good thing about the rain is I have oodles of time to knit as the washing piles up and the dogs snooze. Today finally cloudy but no rain, so after a decent long walkies and three loads of washing, I shampooed Claire in the knowledge that today at least the towels will dry. She's happily snoozing all pristine clean for the photo of my latest doggie scarf creation, Basketweave with Roses.
 It goes without saying the knitting stitch is basket weave, alternating four plain and four purl stitches over five rows on my Clover size 7 bamboo needles to get the weave pattern. It's the real deal UK Rowan lightweight dk yarn, both for the scarf and the bullion rose stitch embroidery. Since the scarf will be auctioned for funds to support a volunteer organization, Gundog Rescue CACI, which save and rehabilitate  abandoned English pointers and setters from death in the pound, the English yarn has special significance. Basketweave with Roses fits 36-42cm necks, roughly the neck size of my three setters.
 My sweet Chiaro di Luna popped up on my Facebook feed, reminding me it's the Japanese Bon season where the souls of the dead come home. She's inspiring me to make another and probably final scarf, Basketweave with Forgetmenot. I'll keep you posted. To work!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Setter Scarf English Woodland

When you fall in love with new yarn and bring it home, you knit or crochet individual little swatches to see which type of knitted fabric or crochet pattern will bring out the colors and texture of the yarn. Fortunately a couple of these abandoned crochet squares turned up, enabling me to whip up the complementary scarf to yesterday's pink English Rose. 

The colors reminds me of an English Woodland, with ethereal harebells and fuzzy light: with soft blue alpaca/mohair leftovers from a sweater, some fluffy blue-green Puppy Chieti wool/mohair, a little Rowan rowanspun and lightweight dk, and some Japanese boutique Sheep Meadow natural dye yarn, it's a glorious mix of Japan and the UK. There are so many words for woodland habitats associated with hunting and gundogs: a copse is a small woodland, then there's grouse coverts and even spinneys, the small woods associated with hunting for partridges, pheasants, woodcock or other game. But for the sake of simplicity, the scarf is simply named English Woodland.
Nobunaga is in a good mood because we had fresh fried chicken gizzard topping on the kibble for supper, a special treat. After supper I'd been trying to coax Sherlock to relax and model the scarf with some more training treats and it wasn't going very well: when he doesn't understand what he's supposed to do Sherlock gets all tense and worried which defeats the purpose. At any rate Nobu came to the rescue, muscling in on the action for some extra goodies: watch me Mum, I can do handsome when I am in the mood. Depending on whether you tie the square knot with deep blue over the top or pale green, the scarf has a slightly different effect: it looks so cute on Sherlock!

Setter Scarf English Rose

Hunting in my yarn stash I found some abandoned crochet motifs and decided to make them into the body of a third handmade one-of-a-kind doggie scarf donated for the Gundog Rescue CACI charity auction. While the base of the scarf is Rowan Lightweight DK in double moss stitch, the soft feel in the bow comes from an incredible treasure, hand-spun yarn gifted me by a friend, Rowena. 
Rowena and I met many years ago in a craft chatgroup before the age of Facebook, and in spite of fewer photos to share and no other visual modes of expression other than font, we became friends and exchanged small parcels of handicraft goodies. This although we have never met face-to-face: bridging the Pacific Ocean, we remain friends over time and space...and so her gift of yarn is finally bearing fruit in a charity project, so fitting of her sweet and giving not to mention dog-loving personality, to grace my third English setter scarf, English Rose. Don't worry, I have still saved a small amount to treasure- thank you so much, Rowena!  
 This has got to be a scarf for a lady, I can't see a boy doggie wearing it...Lady Claire is modelling it to perfection. It will fit a neck size 36~43cm, and I could even imagine a doggie Mummy wearing it as a small human scarf pinned with an ornate brooch rather than tied round a doggie neck with a reef knot which is your basic Japanese knot. Whatever, says Claire, we're waiting for breakfast here...