One of the most rewarding aspects of fostering any dog is seeing the way they adapt and grow in a home environment. Nala is my second puppy mill dog and it seems that this is doubly true of these little troopers. While I'm not immune to the pathos of her condition, my overwhelming sense in spending time with Nala is not of pity for her past but of joy for each small step she makes. My enthusiasm for these moments is a little incomprehensible to some of my audience. My mom, for example, did not need a step-by-step account of Nala's potty training progress.
I, on the other hand, could not have been more thrilled when she copied her foster brother and did her business straight away on our first walk. Yesterday afternoon she worked out how to run up and down the back stairs without slow coaxing. This evening, I didn't even have a chance to leash her up when I let her out of her crate, before she scampered towards the back door for her post-crating potty break (to help minimize accidents, we go to the yard whenever she comes out of her crate, even if it's only been an hour since her last trip). Nala has already progressed from tentatively extending a paw or two up to the couch to bouncing up to my leg to insist on being lifted up to her favorite spot. She no longer flinches when I stand up, and, although she'd rather not be pet on the head, she's been experimenting with backing into my lap for a back scratch. She's fearless with Billy, snoozing beside him happily on the couch or wandering up to say hi and give him a quick smooch. She's irrepressibly curious on walks, checking out every smell, sight and sound, and she recovers quickly from any alarming moments.
Loud car! Quick, hide between foster brother's legs!
She was spayed last week so she had a very slow, careful bath today to de-stinkify her a little bit. Afterwards, she experimented with hairstyling techniques - after all, a girl has to look her best for potential adopters.
Although One Tail at a Time provides everything their foster homes could possibly need, its fun nevertheless to go shopping for a special treat or accessory. Often this is the first opportunity the dog has had to be spoiled rotten! Unfortunately, my finances at the moment don't allow for frivolous shopping trips so I looked at the chilly little bean and decided that I'd make her something cosy instead. Sewing is my strength so I initially looked through my stash of flannel and fleece but was feeling woefully uninspired. I couldn't quite keep my eyes off the leftover yarn from my Christmas wreaths.
I decided to knit her a sweater. Then I remembered my limited selection of knitting needles (one pair giant, one pair very small) and, more importantly, just how bad I am at knitting. This was clearly beyond me. So instead I got out my crochet hook. I looked for an easy pattern online but got too impatient so, once I had the general idea, I just made it up as I went along.
I think she could do with a few more rows on the back so I'll add those after the weekend. Using such a thin yarn meant that it took forever, and I had to make it a little big since there was less stretch in it for pulling it over her head. However, I think I learnt enough to try again and improve on the "pattern" (if you can call guesswork and waving a tape measure around, a "pattern"). I love the colors on her and you can't beat free as far as price goes.
Now that she no longer smells like a public toilet on a wet day I've noticed just how grotty her breath is. Luckily, she's already booked in to the vet for some major dental work tomorrow and I'm anticipating that will make her much more comfortable than she is right now. I'm not used to a dog that doesn't devour every last whiff of food!
P.S. If you're on the hunt for some cold-weather doggy wear and don't want to struggle with the knitting needles, check out these posts from Two Pitties in the City and Two Kitties, One Pittie for some great inspiration. Bilbo, Nala and I hung out with Snug-A-Bulls creator, Angela, yesterday and got a sneak peek at the cosy new pet scarves for her Etsy store too.
P.P.S. Loooong post today - thanks for making it this far!
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