Spinning the Dead Dog Down

Last September, our beautiful three year old Tibetan mastiff, Kodiak, died from unexpected complications during a routine spay operation. Tibetan mastiffs are huge, hairy dogs, with both an outer coat and an inner coat (and maybe even a secret coat!). As soon as the weather warms up, they blow this inner coat. Clumps of long stapled fine hair fall out by the handfuls, and early last summer, I collected bagfuls of this stuff. When Kodiak died, I couldn't bear to touch it, so these bags of fluff have been hanging around since that time.

A week ago, the Best Beloved and I headed to a cabin that we rent from time to time in West Virginia. I grabbed the spinning wheel, some wool - and all the bags of dog fluff. It was a bit of an eerie experience opening up these bags. They smelled, of course, like the dog herself. But frankly it was a good and active meditation on impermanence. What is left of Kodiak now is ten balls of two ply yarn, one ply wool, the other mastiff. I will knit it into a vest, I believe, for the Best Beloved, since Kodiak was in many ways his dog.

Happy Fourth,
Jonathan in DC

ps: if any of your are visiting DC for the holiday, I apologize about the weather. We blame Cheney.


crmartin's picture

The yarn is beautiful, what a beautiful tribute to a loved pet. I'm sure the Best Beloved will treasure it.



Parrot's picture

What a wonderful way to have a keepsake of your cherished pet.


QueerJoe's picture

Awful to hear about your dog...losing a friend always sucks. Glad that you've been able to keep her memory vibrant.

kylewilliam's picture

a fitting tribute - remember, though (from my experience) the yarn always somewhat smells like the pet... just keep that in mind - the vest will smell like the doggie... it's a wonderful idea though...

another idea (if you have enough yarn) would be to make a blanket or throw - maybe a block style blanket - where you can both snuggle under the warmpth of your lost baby...

I used my animal's spun yarn in a circular blanket I'm working on - it fulled a LOT and I can't see the stitches anymore... so whatever you do, do some sort of test swatch and wash it to see what it'll do when cleaned... chances are you'll lose most stitch definition...

happy 4th! :)



potterdc's picture

Hi Kyle,

Thanks for the reminder about the fulling - I already have noticed after washing the spun yarn that it's a lot fuzzier post-washed than pre-washed. I'll knit up a swatch, wash it, and see what happens.


Think less, enjoy it more.

Think less, enjoy it more.

Tallguy's picture

No, that's not quite true -- it won't always smell. You DO wash it, you know, and if you use a good cleanser, you will get it clean. I also use just a glug of vinegar in the final rinse water, and that seems to help a lot. When dry, there is no odour. When wet, you may notice a faint smell, but wool or any animal fibre is like that too.

Yes, there will be a halo with that yarn. You need to put in a lot of twist to make it hold better, or even blend the wool with the chiengora before spinning. However, that said, you may want to give it another run through the spinning wheel just to add a bit more twist in the final yarn, but only a little. The other thing to do is use a fairly tight gauge -- it will hold together a lot better.

Or plan a design that will look good even if slightly fuzzy. Don't go for fine detail in Fair Isle, for example. A simple texture pattern or stripes will work best, I think. You may want to also use some other yarn in the garment -- this may be quite warm. And yes, it is a good thing you have done.

That really is a sweet idea. The best of luck.

Banjo Lee Jones

Bill's picture

I'm very sorry for your loss of Kodiak....

but.."Spinning the Dead Dog Down" has got to be a country-western song!!!!!

...the spun yarn is beautiful!!!