A Very Good Dog, Except When She is Not So Good, and a New Door Knob Chime

Maira Kalman’s children’s book What Pete Ate From A-Z begins with this description of Pete the dog: “A good dog, a very good dog, but sometimes he is not so good.”  This perfectly describes my dog Cora.  She is a magnificent dog: smart, beautiful, strong, loyal, and gentle.  But on the rarest of occasions she’ll do something . . . odd.

The perp.

The perp.

Since I’ve lived in this house we’ve had a door knob chime on the double doors leading into the entryway.  It belonged to my in-laws when they lived in the house, an homage to their black lab mix Bill.  I recently realized that the dog looked different somehow:


The victim.

I’m not particularly attached to the chime, but I am used to it as a signal of the comings and goings in the house. I wanted to save it mostly because I think it is probably part of my daughter’s auditory landscape of home. So I set about transforming it from a decapitated black lab into a phoenix rising from the ashes. Just kidding, what I really did was make it a dickey.

 Image source.

Make many dickeys! Image source.

To start, I cut away most of the remaining leather to leave a rectangle where the bells are affixed.IMG_7193

Next, I took a dark grey sheet of craft felt that I had on hand, and cut it into a flag shape. The felt is stretchy, and I cut two slits and eased them over the bells.


Next, I started embroidering the dickey. I didn’t draw a pattern, and I didn’t worry about making my stitches very neat. My reasoning was (1) Cora still lives here; (2) I’m not a great embroiderer, and; (3) what I envisioned making was basically a cat toy.

Action shot.

Action shot.

You know we’re tassel fans here at RHW, and I couldn’t let the chance go by. I followed Katie’s tassel tutorial, using bunka cord (I also used some in the embroidery).

Bunka cord is a knitted rayon cord.  I bought mine on Etsy.

Bunka cord is a knitted rayon cord. I bought mine on Etsy.

I made one modification: instead of wrapping cord around the top of the tassel, I used a bead cap and threaded down into it.

Putting the tassel on

Putting the tassel on

Voila!  New life for a decapitated door knob chime.

Voila! New life for a decapitated door knob chime.

They always return to the scene of the crime.

Another Cora oddity is the way she lies upside down mashed against the door:



And it gets stranger still, though I can’t blame this one on Cora:

This is a daily occurrence.  Wolsey definitely outpaces Cora in the odd-behavior category.

This is a daily occurrence. Aren’t they ridiculous and adorable?!

That’s all from Red House West Northern Headquarters for today. Katie is back on Wednesday with a laundry room/entryway update and next week I’ll be posting about a little interior update of my own. Have a great week everyone!

10 responses on “A Very Good Dog, Except When She is Not So Good, and a New Door Knob Chime

  1. y2knina

    Hilarious. Very clever save, too! It looks like an owl to me? A bug-eyed owl, yes, but still an owl. Which probably says way more about me than it does about your embroidery skills. 🙂

    1. meramatthews

      It definitely has a certain owl-ness to it. Better that than looking like pasties, which was a definite possibility! Thank you!

  2. Carol Crump Bryner

    Sweet dog – and cat. And such a resourceful solution to the “misplaced” doggie nose. Cora wants to be the only dog at the door.

    1. meramatthews

      Thanks Carol. It’s so Cora to surgically remove the face. She sometimes extracts a single spoon out of a sink full of dishes, just to remind us that she’s capable of major destruction. Such a stinker!

  3. Katy Gilmore

    Oh I love it when you and Katie tell these funny RHW stories. And there is something exotically Nepalise about the new bells! What you say about the auditory landscape is so true. Cora would probably miss the sound, letting her know all is right with the world, and she is in her place – along with her orange companion!

    1. meramatthews

      Thanks, Katy! It does have a certain Nepalese look to it, like something picked up in a high mountain village and crumpled at the bottom of a duffle carried on a yak for weeks before being extracted and smoothed out! 🙂

    1. meramatthews

      Thanks, Joanna! Cora is very patient with Wolsey. I’ve never seen a cat roll over on top of a dog’s face the way he does. He definitely takes the prize for odd animal behavior in this house!

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