Crochet Project: Sweater for Service Dog Ruby

I offered up a fully-customized dog sweater (made by me, from the Dog Sweater-Jacket pattern of my design) as a part of the second fundraiser online auction I held a couple of months ago to benefit my Guide Dog Puppy Sponsorship project and beautiful black Labrador Retriever, Service Dog Ruby won the sweater as a gift from a guide dog handler friend who bid on it just for her.
Service Dog Ruby, laying on a concrete surface in front of a red wooden bench. The tip of her pink tongue is peeking out of her mouth. Ruby’s handler wanted the sweater to match Ruby's working gear. As shown above, Service Dog Ruby wears a black harness and a vest that is a medium blue with white writing and a small amount of red and white on the Canadian flags, so I ended up selecting the Heartfelt and Blue colorways of Red Heart Super Saver yarn to match Ruby's vest and include a couple of other pretty colors (green, teal and purple) that I noticed (from other photos of her) are included in the collar she wears. I used a size N/M (9.00mm) hook and crocheted Ruby's sweater with a strand of the Blue and a strand of Heartfelt yarns held together, making the project nice and thick to help keep the dog warm in the cold Canadian winter.

This time I opted to not add the hdc finishing edge round on each piece of the garment, like I did for the sweater I constructed for my guide dog while designing the pattern. I just didn’t feel it was necessary for this sweater. And as a result I used quite a bit less yarn than I expected to use for this sweater.
I added 5 rows around the neck opening instead of just the 2 I included in the pattern to give a closer/higher fit around the dog’s neck (and which also helps to alleviate any over-stretching of the chest panel of the sweater).

I made a much wider belly strap (it’s more like a flap) on this sweater to help keep Service Dog Ruby’s cold-sensitive tummy warmer. I started with 26 stitches for the flap instead of the 10 in my pattern, so the flap would cover from just behind the dog's front legs to just in front of the back legs. I also sewed on a strip of Velcro for the flap closure instead of buttons. Velcro can be really harsh on yarn if it isn't lined up exactly right every single time, but the Velcro closure will be much easier for Ruby’s handler to manage than buttons would be when she dresses Ruby in her sweater next winter.

Luckily Ruby is fairly close in size to my Guide Dog, so my chocolate boy (who is currently only a couple inches longer and wider than Ruby) modeled the sweater for photos. It’s slightly small on him, so it will hopefully (*fingers crossed*) fit Ruby just right.
6 photos showing the dog sweater in progress and when complete and being modeled by my dark brown chocolate Lab. The sweater is made of yarn with various shades blue, red, purple, and greenI am very happy with how this sweater turned out, so I hope Service Dog Ruby and her handler like it too.