White Dog smiled at her sister. "That was awesome Nilla! I am so proud of you!"
When Nilla first came to us as a hospice foster the beginning of last summer, her attitude belied her age of 14 years. She lept...still does...like a basketball player going for the game winning jump shot...as Steve carries her food bowl to position. Her eyes were bright, she loved to walk. She was hospiced because the program director knew her age would be a deterrent to her adoption...and that it would mean she would end up with us. Of course, she has long since been adopted by the WDA.
But she came matted and dirty and timid. She had been a one owner dog, surrendered because the now woman was expecting a baby. From Nilla's looks we suspected that long before the pregnancy Nilla had been forgotten, perhaps kept in the garage and remembered only as an obligation to feed and potty.
Steve made the decision for our then timid girl who would shake at every imagined offense that we would not subject her to being groomed professionally. Instead over months he worked to demat then detangle and trim Nilla, working in short bits and rewarding her calmness with gentle touches and small treats. She came to appreciate being soft, and having a healthy coat. His attentions and a better diet made Nilla's coat glow. In little more time he managed to convince her that nail trims were not the same as losing your toes. She would close her eyes and tense but would not jerk away.
It is White Dog shedding season here. Every pup is blowing coat and now that Nilla's body has adjusted to good nutrition and care, her thick coat is providing fluffy nest lining for the birds of our neighborhood.
Today Nilla and the Army came in from the yard with Steve. She began to sneeze. Her coat was full of fine pollen grains from her zooming through the flowering bushes along the perimeter of the wall.
"It is time," Steve told her as he took her gently in his arms and carried her into the bathroom. The WDA whispered, "Time for what" as they paced the hallway. The shower was turned on. "Ohhhh," was the reaction. It was time for Nilla first bath with us.
Every pup nervously expected howls and trauma and scampering and strange noises. We were all gladly disappointed when we heard Steve say, "Good girl, Nilla! You like this, don't you?" Our quiet girl sat calmly as Steve shampooed and rinsed...twice. Then he encouraged her to shake.
"My goodness, look how white you are!" he told he and then he placed the wet baby into my arm full of towels for drying.
Patiently she rested against me as I towelled and buffed...and Steve cleaned ears. A few reward treats and it was over. I set Nilla on the ground where she was swarmed by her siblings.
"Sister, you look simply fabulous!" Opal told her. "One day soon YOU should try it," was Nilla's encouraging reply.