Pet Tales: Fiber artist knits beds for kittens




Eleven cats at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society have been happily lounging on pieces of Pittsburgh history. They've been "gifted" with cozy beds made from pieces of the Knit the Bridge project that adorned the Andy Warhol Bridge in August and early September.

The cats don't seem to mind that their beds are solid black. If you saw the outdoor art display, you probably remember a bright and broad array of colors on the 580 knitted and crocheted panels. You may not have noticed the panels were outlined in black.

"There were miles and miles of black knitted and crocheted pieces," said Marty Ressler of Lawrenceville, a fiber artist who generally works in "fabric and found-object collages." She asked her mother-in-law to teach her to crochet so she could participate in the project. "Five of us made a panel, and I helped put it up."

Her good friend Amy Lewandowski, a volunteer dog walker at the North Side shelter, had mentioned that the cats need beds. Ms. Ressler knew that the pretty panels would be laundered and donated to homeless shelters and nursing homes. She asked the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh, sponsor of Knit the Bridge, for the most unsightly pieces.

"I rolled the black pieces into long snakes, coiled them into a flat circle and stitched them," Ms. Ressler said. The 11 beds are 17 inches in diameter. She took them to the shelter right before Thanksgiving.

Zoe and Hammie, her own cats, thoroughly enjoyed the whole project. They chased pieces of yarn across the floor and jumped in and out of the bags where the pieces were stored. So she made each of them a bed, which is especially fitting for Zoe, a black tiger-stripe that she adopted nine years ago from the humane society.

The black beds will follow the cats to their new homes when they are adopted. Eight of the cats were adopted recently. If you act quickly, you can see the last three Warhol yarn beds being enjoyed by cats Mama, Noel and Kiley.

Best in show

If you were one of the 20 million viewers who watched NBC coverage of the National Dog Show presented by Purina on Thanksgiving Day, you saw the top prize go to a breed of dog many people have never seen in person. That would be an American foxhound, a handsome dog that looks like a giant beagle.

Grand Champion Kiarry's Pandora's Box won Best in Show, beating out a bearded collie, a Pekingese, a Norfolk terrier, a standard schnauzer, a bichon frise and an Irish water spaniel. Back home in Mechanicsville, Md., they call her Jewel.

Jewel, 3, was handled by her breeder, Lisa Miller, who co-owns the dog with Ellen M. Charles. Jewel is the first hound to win the honor in the 12-year history of the show, put on by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia. In 2013, she was the top-ranked American foxhound, No. 1 in the Hound Group and the sixth-ranked American Kennel Club show dog of all breeds. She won the Hound Group at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club show last February.

Pittsburgh viewership was ninth highest out of the top 56 markets in the country, according to the Nielsen ratings. The rating was 8.3, which means 8.3 percent of all TVs in Pittsburgh watched the show. The share was 18, with 18 percent of all TVs in use from noon to 2 p.m. tuned into the dog show. That share is "more people than [watching] most Penguins and Pirates games," according to a spokesman for Vizion Group PR.

Another 10 million viewers watched the encore telecast in prime time last Saturday. Go to www.NationalDogShow.com to see pictures and video.

Pet food drive

Buying cat, dog or rabbit food at Petagogy from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today will benefit the Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center. For every pound or can of food purchased at the Shadyside shop (5880 Ellsworth Ave., 15232), shop owners will donate an equal amount of food to the shelter in Larimer.

Information: www.petagogypgh.com or 412-345-7300.

Wrapping at malls

Gift wrapping is free at The Mall at Robinson and Ross Park Mall, but donations will benefit the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. The wrapping is done by shelter staff and volunteers. Last year, almost $40,000 was raised at the Robinson event.

The Mall at Robinson gift wrapping booth at Center Court will be open when the mall is, and the wrapping season has been extended through New Year's Eve. A second location will open Friday next to Sears.

Therapy dogs will comfort weary shoppers and adoptable shelter dogs will visit. This is the first year for gift wrapping at the Ross Park Mall, next to Sears. Animals will visit every Wednesday.

Photos with Santa

In past years, Santa Claus stayed late at The Mall at Robinson to pose for pictures with pets. This year the mall is sending him and Mrs. Claus to the North Side shelter (1101 Western Ave., 15233) of the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society on Sunday, starting at 7 p.m.

Jane Galik Photography is offering photo packages for $30.

Calendar dogs, cats and rabbits

The 2014 Our Best Friends Calendar is available at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society for $20. The desktop calendar with lots of room for writing appointments features dozens of professional photographs of pets and animals in the North Side shelter.

I buy several each year as gifts, including one for me, which I use for keeping track of events and fundraisers for Pet Tales.

Pet remembrance service

Families and pets are invited to attend a service to remember pets that have died. The service is at 2 p.m. Dec. 15 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2040 Washington Road, Upper St. Clair (15241), in the Recreation and Outreach Center. This is one of the many programs offered by the church pet ministry.

Pet Tales appears weekly in the Saturday Home & Garden section. Linda Wilson Fuoco: lfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3064.

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