Saturday, April 19, 2008

Remembering Abby

Abby passed away very early this morning. She was 3/4 Border Collie and 1/4 Australian Shepherd, eight years old, and had the sweetest disposition of any dog I've ever had. Although not well-trained in herding sheep she was still very useful to me when caring for my flock and I'll miss her dearly, both as a friend and as an assistant.

In late March I noticed that Abby seemed a little less enthusiastic and her appetite wasn't up to par. We were away the first week of April and the friend caring for her reported that she hardly ate a thing. That trend continued, she lost weight, grew weak, looked anemic (gums and inner eyelids), developed labored breathing, and lay around all day. I don't know if there's a connection, but her beautiful coat changed: not as flowing, and brown hair started growing along her spine where she had always been blue merle. She remained sweet- can you see it in her eyes? This photo was taken three days ago before she was taken to a nearby veterinary hospital for an ultrasound.

Abby was found to have pancreatitis and treatment was begun (pain medications, tests, re hydration with IV fluids, fresh frozen plasma). We visited her yesterday evening and found her no better; I knew, just being with her, that her outlook was poor. Her breathing was even more labored and she was ill at ease. I asked the staff to let the veterinarian know that I wished to discuss taking Abby home.

A call came at 2:30 am. Chest films indicated that her lungs had extensive cancer, probably part of the process that had started destroying her pancreas. They had placed her on oxygen and it was time to decide how to proceed. We drove to the hospital; Abby seemed more like herself, giving us a slow wag of the tail when she saw us. The oxygen had probably provided enough pep for her to be acting more like herself. She lay down quietly on a blanket and we sat on the floor with her. I told her how wonderful she had been, how she'd help me with the sheepies. Then, as the vet helped her slip away, she gave me one last kiss.

Abby never really understood what toys were for but she did have a little stuffed, earless and bedraggled Lambie that she would sometimes seek out and deliver graciously to my lap. Lambie is now nestled with Abby in a blanket, under the apple tree in the backyard in which Abby spent eight contented years.

Please hug your dog. Monitor his or her health closely; your dog, like Abby may be a stoic and suffer without complaint. I think that Abby had a reasonably good life during her last few weeks, but I regret that her last 36 hours were spent in a hospital.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Undyeing Devotion

I have a very large amount of yarn, shorn from Massachusetts sheep and spun into off-white sportweight yarn at a Massachusetts spinning mill. Although I'm a devoted dyer, I think I can spare a little. I personally sorted fleeces for this project, choosing mostly down and medium fleeces, with some longwool fleeces to add strength and luster. Before spinning, nylon was blended into the fiber at 15% by weight. This yarn was spun from the fleeces of white sheep only at a grist that yields 93 yards per ounce, under minimal tension, AFTER DYEING. One skein is more than enough to knit a pair of men's socks in size large.

Each four ounce skein is $8.00; for the next few weeks I'll be lowering the price of four or more skeins to $6.00 each. Drop me an e-mail ( if you'd like some skeins!