my cutest cardigan yet

Posted on Posted in book reviews/events, designing

boy has this been a lifesaver the last couple of weeks! there has been lots of adventure around here, both scary and exciting, which is why we’ve been pretty quiet for a little while.

back on st. patrick’s day, our little stray pal, cardigan, went missing and didn’t come by for his normal meals—usually we could expect him to show up several times each day to eat and play about the yard.

i got anxious right away and started calling the pound and the humane society on saturday, but neither one reported any sightings. we went down to the pound on monday morning, but no one had seen the dog. when i finally posted the disappearance on the lost and found pets page, i began to get a flurry of messages—”he” was actually a she and had been picked up by the pound early on the morning of the 17th. she was even able to have a visit with her natural dad, herman, because someone who works at the pound had adopted him last summer (herman is on the right below, cardigan on the left).

apparently they had both come to the pound last august with a pack of feral dogs that was rounded up in a nearby town. she was spayed, microchipped, and vaccinated, then quickly adopted out, but herman has some socialization issues and did not get lucky until melody decided to take him home.

when they called cardigan’s owner on st. patrick’s day, she said the dog had been gone for three and a half months and she didn’t want her back; maybe she was not prepared for the challenges of working with  feral dog. so with that clearance, cardigan ended up getting adopted out within a few hours. RUH-roh.

her new family brought her home to a rural town about twenty miles away and she seems fine in the house for a few hours, but when they tried to put her in a truck to go to the vet, she ran under the truck, started squirming like crazy, and slipped out of her collar to run away. oh no!—now she was lost in a place where she didn’t know anyone or have a familiar environment at all.

see? as far from our neighborhood streets as a place can be!

i found all of this out on monday and i felt just awful—we knew she was super skittish; that’s one reason we hadn’t gotten hold of her ourselves in all the time she was here. and then, we were doing so well at making friends and luring her toward the house—she was within a few feet of me several times, taking food. now she was lost, scared, and on the run again. i won’t kid you—i sobbed my eyes out to david over that; i was distraught for her safety and also because i wasn’t sure we would see her again.

i offered to help find her in any way i could and we kept in contact with the new owner; over the next day or so however, it became clear that the search wasn’t going well. we got to know the new owner, kathy a bit and after spending time working with us, she decided that if we could recover the dog, cardigan should come home with us. i really appreciated her understanding and empathy over this; she was awesome.

thankfully, the town where cardigan was lost has a very active Facebook community; everyone pitched in to keep an eye out and post sightings as soon as they happened. we went up there every evening (which is a dog’s time to roam) to follow the clues and get a sense of where she might be bedding down and getting food.

during the days when she was laying low and there wasn’t any point in searching, i could hardly focus on desk work, between worrying and keeping track of messages. i did however use the time to knit on my secret club projects for the month and make way on my second birches sample in cabècou sport.

i don’t have to tell you how soothing and comforting it is to knit when you have things on your mind. and it made me feel productive, instead of useless. i finished up the second sleeve and began the left front, which has that gorgeous cabled panel. this version will be nice and light and cozy-warm, a little fuzzy. i am constantly admiring the golden patina that is more apparent in this batch of the sel gris shade—the tussah silk used in this batch is a deeper honey color than in previous runs.

to ratchet up the odds of finding our little friend, i contacted a wonderful rescue expert named ramona, of jj’s ruff roads, who lives near us and specializes in recovering lost dogs to their owners. she was available to get involved and we started meeting to work on the case together (by now cardigan had been gone for five or six days).

working with ramona was fascinating. first, we just tried to figure out where she might be, based on the habits of most dogs who run. we looked for paw prints in places that were near the sightings—ramona was able to guess by her known weight which prints might be hers—then placed food bowls in likely places near those tracks, with a trail cam nearby. if she came along in the night and ate from the bowl, we’d see it on the cam.

once we could establish a food source she was using, we could set up a trap nearby. now, i know that sounds bad, but ramona (and my friend kade, a kitty rescuer) assured me it was better than being out in a dangerous place, where she could get hit by a car or attacked by coyotes. believe me, i was kicking myself for not trying this earlier when she was safe at our house; i just didn’t know where to turn for that help.

unfortunately, the place we thought were likely only turned up some possum and cats—no more paw prints. after a few more days i sat down and mapped out every sighting on paper and we met up on sunday to walk the route we knew she’d taken. ramona knew the dog would bed down near a water source, but there were several in the area. we hiked around each one, talked to several households, and left more food bowls in different spots. everyone was looking for cardigan at this point; some people already knew the story and were helping with regular posts. we just kept missing her . . .

we were walking back to the truck at the end of the afternoon and came upon a very small pond situated just behind a few houses, both of which had dogs in the yard. we were chatting away and making all kinds of noise in the field straw, when suddenly i saw her! there she was, sleeping like a baby near the pond. and of course we had no way of catching her—no trap, no blanket, just food and a bowl. ach.

we decided to wake her and see what she did—if we couldn’t catch her, we could at least see where she ran to and follow, then put food  down and an open trap to get her interest. we roused her gently and she got up slowly, very groggy looking. when she saw me with some hot dog treats she hesitated but turned and trotted away toward the houses and neighborhood. we followed and sighted her several more times, weaving in and out of back yards until we lost her. we got back in the truck and went in her direction, hoping to catch another glimpse. we checked in at a house where she was seen twice and sure enough, she was curled up atop of a pile of leaves there. again she got up, hesitated when she saw us, but then trotted off.

by now it was getting dark and rainy; we took one more turn around the town, placed the open trap up near the pond (not set to spring, just to lure her), and then headed home. then i saw her again as we were leaving town! sleeping in the grass in a field near one of the food sources. obviously she was tired; i hoped this would help us. we decided that since we knew she had plenty of food and she had certain places to sleep, we could let her relax and come back the next day.

omg, do you think i slept that night?

i was so anxious to get going the next day that i got into the car the minute ramona called to say she was ready. we hardly had time to check the food in the trap when we saw cardigan again, sleeping near the pond (thank you, mother nature for giving dogs predictable habits!). ramona set the trap and we laid out lots of yummy goodies in a trail leading to it. then we sat in the wet grass on a nice man’s lawn and watched from a little distance.

haha, and she slept on like a hog. after an hour and a half, during which we got to talk about dogs and working with feral ones, we decided we could probably rouse her gently and encourage her toward the food. we walked around near the pond talking to each other and mentioning her name a lot; she stirred but didn’t really move. then we got a little more assertive; i moved closer with some hot dog chunks and started tossing them while ramona quietly closed in from the back. cardigan got up and showed interest in me and the food, but was indecisive and hesitant. at one point she turned to go in the other direction but ramona rose up out of the grass and the dog ditched that idea to begin moving toward the trap, which was placed near her escape route of the day before.

she went right to it and faster than we figured she was inside and the trap was sprung. omg, BIG adrenaline rush for all three of us. poor baby was shaking like a leaf and trying to nose out of it when we got to her. ramona and i just talked and talked to her with calming words and tone but we were shaking too.

ramona went to get the truck ready and i stayed with cardigan, trying to soothe her. this dog has never shown any aggression in my presence and she didn’t now; she was just scared. we cleaned up the area of debris and carried the crate to the truck to take her home, then thanked the homeowners for allowing us to work in their yard. next stop, home!

as a precaution, she rode home in the trap so ramona could drive while i followed in my car. when we got there, david was on hand to help get the cage in the house and finally cardigan could come out. she was really very docile and stoic, though very scared. thankfully, not aggressive at all.

we all sat around her stroking and calming her as much as possible and after a while she relaxed some.

then a little more . . .

the first night and the next day she did not care to eat or drink, though she seemed a bit dehydrated. when ramona came by the next day, cardigan finally ate some peanut butter from my hand, followed by some food. she let us scratch her belly and ramona (AKA the dog whisperer, haha) checked her over a bit. i went to the pound that day to pick up some papers for her and talk to the vet there; they had administered flea meds and otherwise gave her a clean bill of health—negative for heartworm and parasites. so, no traumatic vet visits needed right now.

we spent the rest of this week figuring out what her schedule should be, what she likes, and how we can best help her adjust. i am finding that a drop of lavender oil on the back of her neck will calm her when she’s shaky; her bed is sprayed lightly with lavender patchouli deodorant that i use. i thought for sure she’d be thrilled to see our yard again, but she was visibly less relaxed outside than in the house. i suspect that being leashed made her feel limited in the face of danger—no ability to run from a threat. and that harness was uncomfortable too; we exchanged that for a martingale collar after two days. much simpler and very effective. david also bought a whistle 3 tracker suggested by ramona for dogs with flight risk; haha, she’s got her own fitbit now. not that she needs to lose weight—she came home a little lighter than she was before.

for this first few weeks, ramona recommends that we just work on building a bond with our dog and not push her too much into training and outings. she thinks that the risk of flight is greatly reduced in dogs who have a solid bond with their humans. being a feral dog most of her life, she does not usually engage visibly (usually looking away or down, even when interested) and doesn’t seem to recognize rewards as we think of them. food isn’t always of interest and she doesn’t seem to know what a toy is for; finding playful ways to interact is taking time. i’ve been reading like crazy and getting advice from ramona about what to try.

so far, peanut butter and long walks are very enjoyable and for that she has ended up with the right human—i love long walks. plus, she is now famous in the neighborhood; everyone wants to meet her. so far she is a champion distance walker; we can’t stay out long enough for her and i have great faith that she’ll enjoy running, once we know each other a bit better. even when it’s pouring rain, she really doesn’t like the walk to end and has begun showing resistance about coming in when we get to the back door, haha. i’ve ordered a waterproof jacket; i already know she’s not going to let me off the hook for a little rain—or even a lot.

the first day out, i took her on one of my usual running routes and realized that from her point of view, this option held danger at every turn—noise, traffic, runners, kids, deliveries, etc were triggering her run reflex from every turn. so the next time, i took her at quieter time of day to the less traveled spots nearby. the cemetery was perfect (we are very respectful at all times when visiting and we take care of all other business before entering).

she’s a shar pei mix (maybe shepherd?), so she’s very stoic and doesn’t bark at all. seriously, i have never heard it personally, though david heard it once when she still lived on the compost pile.

earlier today i had to wind some yarn and she enjoyed watching that, along with the great view from my workroom door. she’s starting to perk up a lot and once in a while she watches my face with that cute tilted head look that doggies give us.

it’s the little things . . .

yesterday we went to visit erica in the office; she did really well, so later this week we might go to a meeting with doug there. maybe one day this week we’ll try doing a bath—she hasn’t had one yet and it’s allergy season for us, haha. this morning we had our usual three mile walk, followed by some touching and cuddling before breakfast (still learning to accept touch and handling). this afternoon we’re having some serious work time in my office because i have so much to catch up on. you can see that she’s great help with this. we’ll go for another long walk this evening.

you know, i’ve never had a house pet—i grew up on a farm and while we always had dogs, they lived outside. then during my years in NYC, it was not really practical from the dog’s standpoint. since we’ve settled here in the house,  i’ve secretly been wanting a dog for a while, but i know david doesn’t believe in caging animals. then, when cardigan picked our house to take up residence, we began to talk about it and he thought that if someone actually abandoned an animal, then in all fairness we should find a way to open our home to her. and so we are living with a bit of dog hair on the sofa, a new set of accessories strewn about, and lots of great companionship.

i can’t thank ramona enough for all that’s she’s done to help us recover and adopt this adorable dog, as well as her continued coaching and guidance! in addition to working full time and parenting five dogs and four foster dogs, her non-profit organization, jj’s ruff roads is helping rescue community dogs in a variety of ways, restoring them to owners, rescuing and rehoming strays and unwanted souls, and partnering with similar organizations to meet joint goals (check out some of her cool rescue videos here, especially this one). if you have a few spare bucks and would like to support her mission, please consider a tax-deductible gift in any amount (click here for information on giving). and if you live locally, they have a big fundraiser event coming up on may 7, in partnership with pitties and kitties.

one last irresistible cuteness injection . . .

59 thoughts on “my cutest cardigan yet

  1. I’m glad you got Cardigan back – good thing you chose a unisex name! She will have an interesting, loving and safe life with you.

  2. Wow! What a story! When odyssey! I’m so glad you found Ramona and got Cardigan to your home! What a challenge that must be to work with a mostly feral dog. I’ve had several dogs, one at a time. But never one with such an interesting story. She sure found the right humans!

  3. Oh my word Anne, this is the best blog post ever! Such a wonderful story; I was on the edge of my seat the whole way through. She is so adorable and will give so much love and fun. Dogs are just the best! She is certainly one lucky pup. Enjoy!
    P.S. Please keep up the posts about her progress! 😉
    Ros x

  4. Oh Anne what a wonderful story. I had tears the whole time I was reading your post. Your heart is so big and I would say how lucky Caridgan is but I know you are just as lucky to have her chose you.

  5. Oh just reading about it makes me tear up, she is just such a beauty. I’m so glad you were able to track her down, and that it all seems to be working out! I’ve had pets most of my life, and the few times when I didn’t always seemed to feel like something was missing. I’m sure she’s going to be so happy with you guys!

  6. I already love your yarn and your patterns and the way you write them but this blog post makes me love you even more as a fellow human. Pats to cardigan (when she feels like them)

  7. What a great story. My daughter in California has a little dog (papillion chihuahua mix) who was literally rescued from the jaws of a coyote. He is the sweetest little thing and loving as all get out, but two years later he is still a runner,, if he can get someone to be loose with his leash. Be firm with that leash for a long long time, and enjoy every minute of that new family member!

  8. What an absorbing tale…no wonder you’ve been too busy to blog. Cardigan’s pictures are so enticing (and I’m not even a dog person). So glad you’ve been able to start getting her settled in.

  9. Bless you, Anne and David, for finding Cardigan and bring her home. It is so heartwarming to know that her days as a stray are over and that she has found her forever home. I know with time and love, she will become a loyal companion–she knows who saved her!

  10. I was so excited to read this story! I see the relaxation in her face in the last photos. We foster with our local golden retriever rescue club and when we bring new fosters home we don’t do anything crazy the first few weeks…just let them settle into routine and walks. Lots of walks. Walking is an amazing bonding piece between people and dogs!! She has a wiseness to her face…def see the shatpei!!! You now have a knitting and running buddy!!! Congrats!!!

  11. Anne, I am so happy for you, David and Cardigan. This journey that came full circle was meant to be.

  12. Anne, What a great story! Please keep us updated on Cardigan. I just adopted my second dog 2 mos. ago. Both my “boys” make me laugh every day. Enjoy!

  13. Wonderful news, Anne. So happy for you and especially for Cardigan. You certainly worked hard to provide her with a loving home. Once she is more comfortable, please have her micro chipped then register your information online – additional insurance that she would be returned to you, you know, just in case.
    Again, wonderful news!!

  14. What a happy ending to a nail-biting story. It sounds as though Cardigan has landed on her paws in finding someone (you!) whose heart is set on giving her a happy and safe home. How marvellous. Reading this has been a lovely start to my Monday.

  15. I have never read a blog here and I don’t know what drew me to this site and story, but I have spent considerable time today with your epic story and Cardigan’s too. What a love story it has been and I am so happy for both you and Cardigan. My heart breaks often over dog and cat stories and how wonderful it would be if they all ended up like yours. I wish that there were more Ramona’s in this world too. Dealing with Feral animals is really touchy and her expertise in these matters were no doubt the solution to Cardigan’s acceptance to tamehood. Bless you all.

  16. Great blog post and so happy for both you and Cardigan. We love our dogs and they do love the walks–it’s the highlight of both of their days. I am thankful that Cardigan decided that you all were the people for her!

  17. I am glad you found her. Sounds like an adventure. I have also missed a dog that ran away, knitting was the only thing I could concentrate on.

  18. I am not even really a dog person, but I’m in tears over that poor sweet dog. I hope you all will be so happy together.

  19. What a wonderful and heart stopping adventure! I hope with time and patience Cardigan continues to relax and accept her new life with you and David. She has such a sweet face, and looks very wise.

  20. I think this is the BEST blog post that you have written. As I was reading it, tears were running down my face. I am so HAPPY for both you and David and Cardigan. Rescue dogs are so appreciative. They are the most lovable dogs ever, I know because I have one. May you have many, many happy, fun and enjoyable years with Cardigan.

  21. I read your story with my heart in my throat and now there are tears on my cheeks. As a dog lover, my heart aches at what this sweet girl has been through. I’m so happy for her that she found you-and that you didn’t give up on finding her again. Thank you for telling the whole story. And for you patience and willingness to open your heart.

  22. What a wonderful story! I have taken in strays but never a feral animal. I think you are brave as well as kind. Cardigan looks great with your rugs, this can only be good;). When he has been with you guys for a while he may have the puppyhood he was denied by a rough life – get that beautiful sheep smelling yarn out of this way, and I hope your yard is fenced.
    How lucky you and David are to have found Ramona. I didn’t know anyone specialized in feral animals. Soon you will hear the snoring of a contented dog in the evenings, one of the best sounds out there.

  23. Congratulations on your new found love. I’m glad you finally found her! Here’s a tip from a long time dog owner… We don’t do baths. About 15 years ago we found out that one of the most irritating thing to dogs is removing the natural oils from their skin, with even the most gentle of soaps. What we do, instead, is generously powder them with cornstarch, give it a good massage in, then brush it out. It removes excess oil, and dirt, and keeps them smelling fresher. Once a week is enough for even the traditionally smelly breeds. We have a basset these days (notoriously smelly) and as long as we also keep his ears clean, vinegar and water solution on his ‘spa’ days, he does not smell. We are lucky to live on 3/4 of an acre, where he can run around without getting into much, but have never had to actually bathe him, even when we got him from a friend five years ago and he smelled to high heaven! Cornstarch did the trick (though it took a couple of go ’rounds). I think the weekly massages have also helped turn him from a distrustful spook easy dog into my faithful companion. Hope your journey is filled with the joy of pet ownership!

  24. Oh my Anne. I’m an animal lover and have taken in a very nervous rescue dog myself. Your story warmed my heart. Sounds like you have just the right approach to make Cardigan comfy over time. Good luck and thanks for sharing your story with us.

  25. What a happy ending! And a great addition to your fabulous blog – knitting, designing, cooking, gardening and now a dog! She’s just going to need a little time to realize she’s got a family 100% committed to her. We have a rescue ourselves, a stray but not feral, and once she realized she was here to stay, she bonded like superglue. I’m looking forward to seeing how Cardigan progresses and adjusts to her new home.

  26. Definitely had tears. So happy your family is together again. At this point you have bonded more than if she hadn’t left. Enjoy your time together.

  27. Everybody needs a little puppy love. I’m so happy you found her and that she’s settling in. Dog hair, like cat hair, is a speciality fiber. Wear it with pride!

  28. Oh! What a beautiful story. It made me cry. She is one lucky dog . I’m sure she will repay you with love and loyalty.

  29. Oh my, this almost brought me to tears. Your description of dogs on the farm was so familiar to me. My mother grew up on a farm and was adamantly opposed to dogs or any other pets in the house. Never mind that farm pets could retreat to a relatively warm spot in the barn. It sounds like you’re doing everything right with Cardigan. I wish you all well! Xoxo

  30. What a wonderful, happy-ending story! Cardigan picked the right people to adopt. It just took awhile for her to realize it.

  31. I love everything about this post, even the sad, scary bits (but only/especially because it turned out well at the end)!

  32. Snug but comfortable (PINK!) collar, always on leash outside for now, lots of walks will help keep your fur baby safe with you. Registering the microchip is important too. Cardigan is so pretty…does she have her own hand knitted (Knitspot design of course !) blanket or snuggly throw yet? You will love having her with you in your home. It will be a different routine but oh so enjoyable. I love the photo of her checking out the yarn. I’m so glad for the happy ending for you all.

  33. Loved reading about your adventures w/Cardigan. She has found a wonderful home and just the perfect people to love and care for her. May the three of you continue to enjoy each other for many happy years to come.

  34. Ramona is awesome! Thanks to her expertise and the use of her catch kennel our rescue was able to recover a Golden Retriever who had been on the run for 4-1/2 weeks. She is a blessing and cares deeply about the mission. We will be supporting her at the May fundraiser! Cardigan is adorable!

    Your friends from GRIN

  35. Ann
    Thank God you got her! You and David and she are so lucky to have found each other.
    I have 2 Rescue cats myself- tabbies. I love them dearly.
    Thank God for you and David and Ramona! Cardigan is a Sweetie.
    I will donate to her work.
    All the best!

  36. Cardigan is one lucky dog to have found you two! She looks irresistibly cuddly. All our dogs and most our cats have been strays including one feral cat who skittishly lives in our house ; she’s of the “I want to be close but do.not.touch. me” school of thought. Patient kindness and gentleness seem to be the key. And loooongg walks; I found daily walking and/or running with your dog to be a most excellent way to build a relationship. What’s a little pet hair on the couch! And the rug. And your pants legs. And the knitting project. Happiness to you all!

  37. I am smiling almost the entire time I am reading because I KNOW it will have a happy ending! Cardigan is darling and I’m so happy she found her forever home, anne!

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