I love to make creative things for my home, but I don’t always follow through in the most sensible way. Add a dog with dementia to the mix, and we make a great team.
Killarney, my little Australian terrier, is 16. That is 112 in dog years. She’s still got plenty of waggle in her tail, but spends most of her days training for the Nap Olympics or doing her version of ballroom dancing. She is nearly blind, mostly deaf and has lost much of her hair. She is also losing pieces of her mind.
It’s a couple of years now since Killarney first got up from my feet and went looking for me. My grandfather died of Alzheimer’s so I was imagining awful things ahead. But her confusion has not progressed far beyond bursts of eccentricity, and I’m thankful.
Picture this: I decide to sew some coloured patches on a new bedspread, to connect it with my hand-dyed curtains (created in a wild moment some years ago). The bedspread has been waiting, patches pinned, for months, alongside my sewing machine that crouches on a small desk in a tight corner of the living room.
Piled around the sewing machine are other projects, a kaleidoscope of good ideas waiting to be realised. (When archeologists dig up my sewing desk in a thousand years, they’ll think it’s a textile museum.)
Anyway, I decide that for this bedspread, the time has come. Yes, right now, even though it’s been a long day and I’m tired and achey. Meh. It will only take half an hour.
The thread in the machine looks like a good match and must be the one I’d intended for the project. What a bonus!
By the time I’ve sewn one patch, I’m having misgivings about the thread. Just to be sure, I sew a second patch. Hmmm. It doesn’t look quite right, but I’m not unpicking two patches. The thread will be a “feature”.
The bedspread is enormous and has an impossible turning circle. At the corner of each patch, I have to force metres of quilted fabric through the arch on the sewing machine. My shoulder is beginning to cramp.
I finish a third patch and pull down the head of the lamp next to the sewing machine to shine some strong light on the matter, something I perhaps could have done at the start. Yep. Definitely the wrong colour, that thread.
I’ve left the TV on behind me as a distraction. It was playing ancient reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond when I started, but now it’s The Simpsons (not my favourite). The volume is too high but I’m not leaving my seat or I’ll never get this job finished.
As I haul through another turning circle on the bedspread, I reflect that any sane person would have made more space around the sewing machine before beginning. But it was only a quick job. My shoulder is burning and I’m approaching a state of disgruntlement with this whole silly idea when Killarney decides to join in.
Thrown off-kilter by the flurry of unusual activity (routine is essential for dogs prone to confusion), she develops a pressing need to insert herself into the sliver of space between my leg and the wall. Who could possibly imagine why.
“Half an hour” has become an hour, and still the clock ticks onwards. By now, Futurama (not my favourite) is blaring in the background and from the dialogue it seems there is a bunch of people trapped in a sewer with mutants. Meanwhile, trapped among my foot pedal and swathes of bedspread is a small dog. She has made it past my leg and now has her head pressed firmly against the wall behind the desk. She squeals indignantly and moonwalks, trying valiantly to make headway.
I tolerate this for a while — you learn tolerance while living with a senior pet — but eventually I bellow at her to get out of there. I’m shouting purely for my own benefit because she’s deaf as a brick and hears none of it. I’m sure my neighbours are enjoying the auditory treat of squealing dog, yelling woman, rumbling sewing machine, and too-loud television, but I never promised to raise the tone of the neighbourhood.
Finally Killarney desists, and wanders off to rummage in her basket. Most dogs turn round three times then lie down. She loses track of how many circuits she’s done and it goes on and on, accompanied by squealing and muttering. I’ve grown philosophical about this behaviour; at least it’s exercise.
A few more minutes and there’s commotion around the foot pedal again. Another brave assault on the wall. We go through this cycle several more times.
The closing credits to Futurama are rolling up the screen as I finish the sewing with a big sigh. All is quiet on the dog front. Killarney has ceased intimidating the wall and is snoozing in her basket.
On my way past to the bedroom, she stirs and decides to come with. She loves to help. So now I’m clambering round the bed, trying to get acres of cloth arranged correctly, while a small dog ducks and weaves round my ankles, confounding every step.
It’s all in place at last. Ashamed now for shouting at woman’s best friend, I bend my legs and pat my knees, which even a mostly-deaf, nearly-blind, slightly-demented dog recognises as the international signal for “Wanna cuddle?”
I sway gently with the dog in my arms and survey my handiwork, while Killarney makes small contented noises in her throat. The strange coloured thread on the patches looks quite nice, really.
What are your experiences with home decorating and pets??