Friday, August 21, 2015

My Lil' Quilting Assistant

Back in the Spring of 2003, I got bitten by the quilting bug and was cranking out new quilt after new quilt for friends and family.  In order to meet my customers' demand, I decided to take on an assistant.  I was looking for someone with lots of spunk and energy to help me finish all these large quilts, but also possess the ability to settle down and focus, so we could work out any design challenges or measurements.  Oh and one final personal requirement:  scruffy facial hair.  Sorry!  But I just love the look of a handsome beard!  After some extensive searching, I decided to take a chance on bringing aboard this young, stray chap named Skippy, whose online resume boasted 2 years of experience mostly roaming the streets of Woodbury, NY, was up to date with his vaccinations and already house-trained.
Skippy's the new hire on his 1st Day on the Job
Yes, he was a bit of a fixer upper, but one look at him and I saw the potential of this scruffy-faced fellow and knew he would be the perfect fit for me!  He joined my team July 17th, 2003.  As he was my first dog ever, the first days were a bit rocky as he settled in and we got better acquainted.  We started with mostly shadow training, where he literally followed my every step.  I was amazed at how quickly he bonded with me and always wanted to be at my side.  We used this time to brush up on his basic manners and learning to be a good canine citizen.

From the start, he was a committed worker, and whenever I tried to give him a break from the intense training schedule, he would cry out for me to come back and keep going.  So it was pretty much 24/7 on the job training (please don't report us to any of the labor unions!)  At this rate, he picked up on things very quickly and we soon gained each other's trust and friendship.

Soon he was ready to learn about my world of quilting.  While he started at the entry level, this dedicated assistant has received numerous promotions and has fulfilled a number of vital tasks and responsibilities!  In exchange for his service, I provided him with two meals of kibble a day (along with quite a few bonus snacks for exceptional performances), a cozy, furnished home with lots of plush beds and chairs to rest after a hard day of work, daily nap breaks, all-expenses-paid vacations, fitness membership, daily massages, tuition for several advanced training programs and a chauffeur to drive him to his spa days to maintain his professional image and take advantage of his free healthcare.  Not a bad benefits package!!
Skippy's perks:  plush bed, kibble and snacks and vacation time











Skippy preferred to work nearby at all times, but did request a scenic view.  He got along with nearly everyone and for the majority of the work day, he quietly performed his daily duties.  But he wasn't afraid to vocalize his thoughts or opinions...especially when it came to the postman, who never got on Skippy's good side.  He had his mischievous side and played a few jokes around the workplace (including his infamous "Wait!?!  Who just farted?" as he high-tailed it out of the room--that lil' stinker!!)  But otherwise, he was easy going, responsible and well-liked by all (ok, except for the post-man)

Here are just a few of his work titles and accolades during his tenure:
  • Head Housekeeper:  Skippy quickly picked up on my preference for a well-organized studio.  He was always respectful to be a tidy office-mate; very rarely making any messes.  Whenever I was in need of nourishment, he stayed close by and immediately took care of any crumbs that may have landed on the floor.  And just like me, he would often be covered in threads and fabric scraps.
"I'll organize these random quilt blocks while you clean up"/"Ok, I'll be your threadcatcher, but I'm ready for any crumbs!"
  • Chief of Security:  Skippy took his security post very seriously.  He did daily patrols to ensure the sacred stash was secure, the finished quilts were safe and that no one entered the studio without authorization.  Once in a while he would sleep on the job, but he sprung into action if he ever sniffed out any dangers.  He was quick to deescalate Susie Qs and Panda's wrestling sessions, especially if they got underfoot of my sewing machine pedal.  He let other dogs passing by the house know to "just move it along."  And don't even get me started on the mailman!!
Keeping watch of the stash, Guarding a Work in Progress and Ready to thwart off attacks of "The Mail Man:
  • Designer/Creative Team:  Early on my quilting career, I did not have a design wall.  So, I used the floor to layout my blocks, audition fabrics and borders.  Skippy would quietly watch on as I shuffled blocks or rows around into a pleasing layout.  Once I got it to my liking, I would walk away for a few minutes and come back with fresh eyes.  Well, occasionally Skippy would see an alternate layout and use these breaks to offer his creative input by rearranging the blocks to his liking.  Oftentimes, his redesign helped me to reconsider the original design and try mixing it up as Skippy suggested.
"Ok, hear me out on this...what if we moved these blocks here and add a 5" border using this fabric?!?"
  • Quality Control Tester:  Who needs the quilt police when you have a dedicated professional who excels in regulating the quality of your quilts.  Yes, Skippy made sure he tested nearly every quilt before it was sent off to enter quilt show competitions, attend wedding parties, welcome new babies and join the homes of family & friends.  Whenever Skippy curled up and napped on any of my quilts, I knew the quilt would bring great comfort to its new recipient.  And I was sure to keep plenty at home for Skippy's comfort too!
Skippy Tested & Approved to be Shared with Family & Friends
  • Face of the company:  While Skippy could be a bit camera shy, he oftentimes helped to model with many of my finished quilts.  Photo shoots with him were always an adventure and would yield quite a few outtakes of him turning his head away, walking off the shoot and making silly faces.  But then he would get into character and we would capture the perfect shot (and if I was lucky, two or three great pictures)!
On camera antics, charm and cuteness!
Skippy provided 12+ years of dedicated service and companionship.  Alas, all good things must come to an end.  Last week, his health started to fail, and after several doctor's appointments, at home care and finally hospitalization, we made the incredibly difficult decision to help him cross the Rainbow Bridge on Wednesday.

Skippy was my first dog, and has been such an integral part of my life, my quilting and inspired my decision to enter the field of shelter/rescue work and animal training.  Up until the very end, he had such spunk and character, and I cherish all our time spent together.  All our wonderful memories made together have been immensely helpful as I grieve over his loss.  I find great comfort in knowing he is up in Doggy Heaven with all the other animals I have cared for and loved, and is waiting to greet me with a happy tail and big ole kiss when it is my time to join him.  
Skippy--Thank you for all your love and joy.  I love and miss you dearly!  Rest in peace my little buddy.

6 comments:

  1. What a loving remembrance. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  2. Thank you for your condolences Ann. He is missed dearly.

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  3. Such a charming and adorable little guy. Beautiful post Mel. I know just how you feel about Skippy and am sorry for your loss. We had to help our Piper cross the Rainbow Bridge this year too. We've gotten into rescue and I am typing this one handed because my assistant Pip thinks my other arm was too light and might float away if she didn't weight it down. Dogs are so wonderful. I'm glad Skippy helped you discover a beautiful path in life!

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    1. Thanks Lara--He was a charmer!! I am sorry to hear about your Piper. They are special beings and their memories certainly stay with us long after they've crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Let's hope they've found each other and can swap stories about their crazy quilting moms!! And thank you for your work in Animal Rescue!!

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  4. So glad you let a dog enrich your life. I love how you wrote this post as a job description and I love all the photos you included. Hope one day soon you find another assistant. Hugs.

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    1. Thanks Sandra...I am glad you have fur-assistants too!! They really do enhance our lives in so many ways. Skippy helped train his two replacements (Susie Q and Panda), but they still have much to learn about quilting (and can still get into a bit of mischief in the studio!!)

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