Life Pupdate: Celebrating One Year with Our Nala Girl

Golden Retriever Pupdate: Celebrating Our Nala Girl's First Birthday by southern lifestyle blogger and mental health advocate Stephanie Ziajka from Diary of a Debutante

Can’t believe I’m saying this, but Happy 1st Birthday to our sweet Nala girl! Time has literally flown since we adopted her last February, and honestly, I can’t imagine life without her soft puppy cuddles. I’m not sure how I did it for 29 years beforehand. I’ve mentioned it a few times, but Nala’s my certified Emotional Support Animal. Legally, that means I’m allowed to rent and fly with her with no extra fees. Emotionally, without getting too mushy, it means her affection and companionship have changed my life. All I’m going to say is that she’s been a better healer and antidote for my anxiety than any medicine I’ve ever taken. Don’t get me wrong– I’m not knocking medicine. It can be a vital part of the recovery process. I just never knew pets, specifically golden retrievers, could be such powerful prescriptions for mental illness. 

If you’ve been following along for a while now, you know that moving to Missouri was no emotional walk in the park for me. Working from home as self-employed blogger in a college town isn’t exactly an ideal arrangement for a not-so-recent college graduate (and introvert) like myself. As ashamed as I am, I can finally admit that I’ve relapsed from my eating disorder on more than one occasion. To help me cope, Kyle and I decided to adopt a dog in hopes that it could keep me on a schedule and force me to get outside and be social every once in a while. We also really wanted one, which is important, too. Maybe we got lucky or maybe all dogs are systematically angelic, but she helped pull me out of a very dark place.

Nala wasn’t some magical zen cure either. In fact, when she was younger, she drove us absolutely nuts at times. She peed all over the place, she jumped on strangers, and she even chased down unassuming students and professors dressed formal business attire while sopping wet with dirty creek water because she couldn’t not say hi. Training Nala was a process to say the least. Even during her wildest puppy days, though, she kept me on a schedule, slept at my feet while I worked, and gave me all the unconditional love that’s missing from family and friends back home. I’d still take that affection over soiled carpets and looks from people in the park any day. 

In full transparency, now that we’ve adopted our little Nellie Nutmeg, too, our home is a disaster zone. There’s dog hair in every corner, muddy paw prints on our hardwood floor, and two huge and unsightly dog crates in our bedroom. We’re the poster couple for this is why we can’t have nice things. The Type A neat freak in me wouldn’t have it any other way, though. Life is so much better with our two golden girls, and we’re feeling especially thankful for both of them today!

Golden Retriever Pupdate: Celebrating Our Nala Girl's First Birthday by southern lifestyle blogger and mental health advocate Stephanie Ziajka from Diary of a DebutanteGolden Retriever Pupdate: Celebrating Our Nala Girl's First Birthday by southern lifestyle blogger and mental health advocate Stephanie Ziajka from Diary of a DebutanteShop the Look: Chunky Turtleneck | Dark Wash Skinny Jeans | Brown Block Heel Tall Boots | Monogrammed Weekender Bag | Tartan Blanket Scarf | Emerald Statement Earrings ( Purchased from Baublebar but no longer available; similar style linked!) | Nala’s Fleece Pullover (Purchased from Lizzi and Rocco’s but not available for purchase online; similar style linked!)

For fun, here’s the post I wrote a couple days after bringing Nala home. Not to be weird and quote myself, but I wasn’t lying when I said, “I hope you like puppies– cause you’re going to be seeing a lot of Nala on my blog and social media channels from now on!” Anyways, I’m not crying– you’re crying.

Happy 1st Birthday, Nala Bala! Stop growing up so fast. We love you! 

Photography by Catherine Rhodes.

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5 thoughts on “Life Pupdate: Celebrating One Year with Our Nala Girl

    1. Stephanie Ziajka Post author

      Hi Ruth! We’ve been feeding both the girls Science Diet’s Large Breed Puppy Chow (this one: https://amzn.to/2SsvBKb) at the recommendation of our vet. Now that Nala is over 1y, we’re feeding her Victor Premium Dog Food (https://amzn.to/2zExWuA). We’ve also had a great experience with Fresh Pet, but it’s harder to find and significantly pricier. Let me know if you have any other questions! 🙂

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