The beginning of ‘Nita’s story: The Foster Chronicles: It Begins Again
The rescuer and I make arrangements. I meet Bonita in a Food Lion parking lot. She wags. She tosses her head. And she shnurffles. Squee!
We ride home in the rain. I pull into a Shell, and while my gas is pumping, I get in the back seat and snuggle with her. Sweetness doesn’t begin to describe.
Redford and Violet are anxious to meet her, and she them, but I’m following the rules (some of them) this time: two-week shutdown. Not just because the kinks never got worked out with Tulip and it was probably my fault for not doing the shutdown, but also because my foster is recovering from an upper respiratory infection. Don’t need to be giving my dogs kennel cough if I can help it.
She goes potty in the yard and does a few shuttle runs, and then ‘Nita and I chill on the couch and watch Netflix.
No house accidents; still pottying perfectly in the yard. (She’s one of those dogs that walks while pooping as if to get away from it. I understand the impulse—it’s like giving yourself a courtesy flush.)
‘Nita does not enjoy her kennel and refuses to get in. I have a meaty treat in my hand, but she runs into the other room and peeks back at me. I’m going to be late for work, so I have to lead her by the collar and give her a little push inside.
When I get home from work, she’s leaping off my bed. I have forgotten to put the carabiner on the side gate. She’s clearly been reading my library book during the day. I tape the cover back.
The shutdown rules say no walks, but that feels cruel, especially considering she’s only 1-2 years old. With ‘Nita on my right side and Redford and Violet on my left, we do the 2.5-mile loop around the neighborhood. Ah, yes, I remember this.
Did you know that you have a set of muscles that you use only for walking three dogs between 55 and 85 pounds? It’s true. The tri-caninus dorsi. They cover the area of your mid- and upper-back, lats, shoulders, neck, and triceps. And biceps. Also forearms, and sometimes glutes. It’s a large muscle group.
After the excitement of the first five minutes, ‘Nita does pretty well on the leash. She does lunge at a squirrel. And at a meow-squirrel who’s luxuriating in the crazy meow-squirrel lady’s yard. And then at one of those squirrels with wings that flies and goes tweet. But her favorite kind of squirrel is the mutant metal squirrels with round legs that run down the road and go vroom. Oh, man, she wants those vroom-squirrels so bad.
Other than that, she’s a gem.
‘Nita chews on a tube of conditioner that was sitting on the edge of the bathtub.
I remember to put the carabiner on the side gate of the kennel before I head to work.
Upon my return home, I find Bonita still in the kennel, yes, but the tray, which now has bite marks on one end, shot out across the floor, the old sheet I put in there for her comfort shredded and strewn about, and
I literally say, “I wish you hadn’t done that.”
Ah, well. I’ve been meaning to paint my bedroom anyway.
Another 2.5 miles. My tri-caninus dorsi are super-jacked.
‘Nita chews on her food bowl a little bit. I tell her no, and she stops.
I start ringing the bell when we go out to the yard to teach her to ask to go out.
She still doesn’t want to get in the kennel, and she’s pretty serious about it. She’s developed a resistance technique whereby she flattens herself against the floor and, when I try to pick up her front paws to put them in the kennel, she lifts her chin higher than the height of the kennel. It’s a good strategy. But there are two reasons my species has survived and dominated, and they are opposable thumbs and cunning. I lift up her back feet like we’re playing wheel barrow, which brings her head down, and walk her right in.
2.5 miles. No big. I’m strong like bull.
She almost sits when I give her her supper.
I keep ringing the bell every time we go out.
My friend lends me a bigger, plasticker crate. Magic impenetrable comfy jail cell. No more prison breaks/crate tornadoes.
The hard part is not the 2.5 miles a day. The hard part is the dog shuffle in the house. How did I do this for seven months with Tulip?! Plus the dogs really want to meet, and I really want them to meet. I want us all to make a pile on the couch and watch Netflix like we used to do with Buffy.
No walk. I’m out for several big chunks of the day. I feel bad putting her back in the kennel when I head out in the evening so I just close her in the spare bedroom. She’ll be fine.
Wait. This feels familiar.
We do 4 miles to make up for yesterday. As we pass the dog park, I’m tempted to put them all in there and just get it over with. Neutral territory. They’ve already walked for 45 minutes when we pass by the second time so they’re tired. What damage could it do?… NO. I must be strong.
I don’t think I’m going to last two weeks though.
At 6:37pm, Bonita rings the bell to ask to go out.