Well, I took the plunge and actually tried one of the patterns in that Japanese dog crochet book I bought in Vancouver. This was my first Japanese pattern, and I tell you--I could not have done it without the internet. The book itself had wonderful charts, beautiful photography showing you steps in assembly, and clear illustrations showing you how to do the crochet stitch that corresponded to each chart symbol. But even so, I would have been lost without knowing the Japanese characters for body parts, getting a quick refresher on reading charts in general, and especially having a guide to reading amigurumi patterns in particular. You should have seen me! I was working in my home office and had two windows open on the desktop monitor and another page open on the iPad, not to mention flipping back and forth between the diagrams in the book for my dog and the pictures in the book that had general assembly directions. If everyone else wasn't asleep at the time, I would have asked someone to take a picture, LOL!
Even with that, there were still a lot of things I didn't understand. I don't know what it says about recommended yarn or hook size. I just chose a hook several sizes smaller than what the yarn ball band recommended since I thought it would be better to make the stitches tight so that the stuffing wouldn't come through. The directions for the dog came with charts for 2 different torsos. I think one was meant for the standing dog and the shorter torso was meant for the sitting dog, but I'm not sure. And there was no diagram for legs. I scoured the printed directions, trying to find the character for "leg" but didn't see anything I could use. Finally, I just picked the pattern for some other dog's legs and figured the ami police would not come after me for doing so.
In the end, it was worth it.
Making this dog was a *lot* of fun. Well, mostly fun. Making the legs was not fun--at all--and I shouldn't have done them last. But I really enjoyed the rest of it. She looks lonely, though, and if I can figure out where to buy some more eyes and noses, I'll make another one. A few more details are on Rav (the page is made public, so you can still see it even if you don't have a Ravelry account).