Round 1: Make a magic circle and work 8 hdc into the circle, ss to join (8)
Round 2: ch 1, hdc inc around, ss to join (16)
Round 3: ch 1, [hdc inc, hdc in the next st] around, ss to join (24)
Round 4: ch 1, [hdc, hdc inc, hdc] around, ss to join (32)
Round 5: ch 1, [hdc inc, hdc in the next 3 sts] around, ss to join (40)
Round 6: ch 1, [hdc in the next 2 sts, hdc inc, hdc in the next 2 sts] around, ss to join (48)
Round 7: ch 1 [hdc inc, hdc in the next 5 sts] around, ss to join (56)
Round 8: ch 1, [hdc inc, hdc in the next 13 sts] around, ss to join (60)
Round 9: ch 1, [hdc inc, hdc in the next 8 sts] 6 times, hdc inc, hdc in the next 5 sts, ss to join (67)
Rounds 10-18: ch 1, hdc around, ss to join (67)
Then I continued with the ear/neck part as written. If I were to remake it, I would probably add a couple of extra rows to extend the length of the neck part, but it works as written.
Since I'm a lazy crocheter, I also made a couple of small modifications so that I wouldn't have to fasten off and weave in ends as often. Instead of fastening off at the end of Row 37, I skipped the second button hole and went straight on to the outlining round. Then when I got to the opposite end where the button hole should go, I crocheted the button hole following the instructions from Row 37 and then immediately outlined it following the outlining round instructions, then just kept on going all the way around. That way it was one continuous piece.
Then, for the fin, I took the lazy route once again. (Have you figured out by now that I don't like sewing on pieces?) Instead of making a separate fin, having to guess the correct length to chain, and then having to sew it in place without making it crooked, I just decided to surface crochet a line where I wanted the fin (following the placement instructions in the pattern). Then I just pretended that was my starting chain and worked Rows 1 and 2 for the fin directly onto the surface crochet.