We all Need a Pack to Call our Own

This time, I only intended on sponsoring a dog from the shelter to rescue, but as Living Large readers have quoted John Lennon so many times: “Life is something that happens when you’re making other plans.”

We have a new member of our family at Our Little House. Right now, she is officially a foster, but well, you know….

The rescue doesn’t name their dogs, as they don’t want a dog to get familiar with a name and then have it changed, but I can’t stand not naming them, so Abbi it is. I wanted to name her Annabel Lee, after my favorite Edgar Allen Poe poem, but Dale thought it too creepy.

Abbi is a fence jumper/digger. She was given up because she wouldn’t be contained in a suburban yard and when she got to rescue, they had to build her a special run as she wouldn’t be contained there either.

Last week, she got out of her special run and killed the son’s duck. In addition to dealing with her son’s grief, the owner of the rescue knew now that this poor dog couldn’t be in the suburbs or on a farm.

Our Little House, situated near neither, is perfect.

It never ceases to amaze me how these rescue dogs have one thing in common when they get to a new place. They only long to be in a pack, part of a family. When Abbi arrived, she acclimated so very well to everything – her new name, the other dogs, the routines.

I finally turned her lose after her first meal, just hours after we arrived home. She accompanied us on a walk on the road and when I said, “Let’s go home,” she was the first one back at the driveway.

Given the stories we were told about her not wanting to be caught if she got lose, I was very afraid that she wouldn’t come in at dark (none of our dogs remain out after dark since we lost Emma), but once Abbi saw the rest of the family had come in, she followed Dale right into the house. She settled for a spot on the floor to claim as her own and blended in as if she had been here for months.

We’ve had some scrapes in the pack order issue with Sade and Chloe (Chloe is sporting a pretty good gash on her ear today), but it’s gone far better than it did when we introduced Chloe to Emma and Sade just four months ago.

Abbi now has a pack, a family to call her own, something so very basic most living beings need to feel they belong in the world.

“Family” is defined in so many ways. How do you define yours?

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25 Responses

  1. sandra says:

    after having outside dogs for yrs. They had a huge dog pen attached to our barn. Even had a pool. But hated leaving them when we went camping. Thery are long gone now. So we got a little maltease. We litter box trained him. It has worked great. He knows when at home he uses it. Never thought I would get so attached. He fits in our little camper & loves to go canoeing too. Been a great stress reducer.

    • kerri says:

      Our family had Maltese all the way back to the 1960s. I had three I adored – Tuffi, Angel and Anastasia. They are good lap dogs!

  2. Brandy says:

    thats really great. animals do long to belong and be part of a pack. our riley came in and took immediatly to our carlie. he loooves carlie and follows him everywhere. carlie can get rough training riley but he loves riley too. they both look up to jd who is 5 years older then carlie and 6 yrs older then riley. carlie taught riley that we have routines here to be followed.

  3. You stinker! Another pup!!! She looks like a lovely girl. I’m glad she is fitting in so well, so fast.

    • Kerri says:

      I know. We pull up to meet the rescue and Dale mutters, “This is the last one….” Um, ok, we’ll go with that….for now. 😉

  4. Vida says:

    HI Kerri,

    It’s amazing how Abbi has found her way with you after being so unruly with other situations. I guess she felt at home at once. That is so great.

    I too consider our four legged pack part of the family as evidenced by how they are sprawled around the house now. They too drive us nuts at times, like Xiao MIng who was gored by wild boar and warranted an expensive vet visit which was wasted in the end as she promptly split all her stitches the day after chasing a cat in the underbrush. Or Scoop and Tiggy who came home smelling terribly and covered with mud from fox-holing three days in a row. We had to bathe and dry them these three days, as if we did not have a ton of work already!

    But like you and many others here I would not exchange them for the world.

    Abbi is a very, very lucky dog indeed.

    • Kerri says:

      It really is amazing, Vida. I called and joked with the owner of the rescue yesterday, telling her that we just couldn’t handle her and she just sat silent for a moment. Then when I told her I was only joking, she exhaled and told me we were really Abbi’s last hope. She has been such a terror, they almost had her labeled as unadoptable (I think I’m answering the question now if she stays!) Really, we’ve had no issues whatsoever, not even an accident in the house. I’m having to leave her in the house for the first time this evening. Keeping fingers crossed!

  5. Alexandra says:

    Funny that you ask that question. My son and his kids are in LA, so I hardly ever get to see them, and my daughters are feeling very independent and uninterested in hanging out with their mother. So, I have more or less “adopted” another activist, a younger woman who is also an activist in our battle to stop the utility company from spraying herbicides under the power lines, and think of her almost as family.

  6. MarthaAndMe says:

    Aww. She’s a cutie. I love that you are able to do this. Unfortunately, we are limited to 2 dogs unless we get a kennel license. I love watching dogs interact with each other and get the pack straightened out.

    • Kerri says:

      I love it too, no government telling us how many animals we can have in an unincorporated area. 🙂 Watching them with the pack thing can be interesting, but scary at times too. I did more reading this time on helping them adjust and Sade doesn’t seem as insecure in her position now.

  7. Olivia says:

    Although not familiar with that poem, I love the name Annabel Lee! Abbi is nice too but it reminds me of our beloved old Ferry that plied the waters of the Northumberland Strait for so many years. The first one was called “Abegweit” – the Mi’kmaq name for PEI, meaning “Cradle on the Waves”. Most people just referred to her as “The Abby” so, when she was replaced with a newer, shinier version, that one was just called “The Abby”.

    Abbi looks like a dear. I’m happy she has found such a loving family.

    • Kerri says:

      It’s one of the first poems I remember my mother reading to me, Olivia. I’ve always loved that name. Wonderful story about the ferry!
      Our Abbi is a sweetie. I’m glad we found each other too.

  8. Amy says:

    Our family is so thrown together I’m not sure how I’d define it.

    Right now we have a dog situation that really bothers me. I recently took in one of my brothers dogs. She had been in a pen but as of last week she suddenly learned how to climb over and under the 6 ft chainlink fence. When she was free there was no human to play with so she thought the chickens looked fun….sigh

    So now the poor girl is down at my place tied up. I hate it she is such a sweetie and so loving and playful. I fear though that if I were to let her loose she’d take off back up to finish the chickens! I’ve thought about bringing her indoors but she has never been an indoor dog and our house is so small I don’t know if it would survive if she panics.

    Then there is her pen mate. Wonderful dog who got out and came down here to find her and stay with her. He is so sweet wouldn’t hurt a fly (other than the rabbits he chases) would love to be in the house…HOWEVER for some reason the poor fella can’t hold his water. I’ve had him to the vet mutiple times and the vet can’t figure it out. He stands up and pees a river until his bladder is empty doesn’t matter is he is inside or out. But we can’t have him inside if he is going to do that.

    Anyway at this point I’m wondering if I was wise taking the one dog home. They would have shot her.


    • Kerri says:

      Hi, Amy, I really feel for dogs that live their lives outside in a pen or at the end of a chain. That’s no way for any living being to live. Dogs are very social pack animals and our domestication of them has taught them that humans are a part of the pack. I’m wondering why your brother even has dogs? I understand your problem though, with the dog now and being afraid it will go and kill the rest of the chickens. It sounds as though the other dog has some fear issues and just goes when in the house maybe? There are a lot of training websites that can help you (but avoid ANYTHING that uses punishment as a means to an end, you’re looking for positive reinforcement training). I read through one the other day before bringing Abbi home and it really helped with Sade’s insecurities of having another dog around. If it doesn’t work out, there’s a couple of rescues in Oakland that might take one or both of the dogs. Aren’t you close? Let me know how it works out.

      • Amy says:

        Thanks I’ll try. We have a humane society down here in Stone county Kerri but the last time I asked for help finding a home for an animal they told me they were all fully up but I could bring it in and have it put down. That didn’t sit to well with me. I’ve stopped donating to them etc. etc.


        • kerri says:

          Let us know how it goes, Amy. I’ve never heard of the rescue in Oakland turning anyone down. Just know there are alternatives.

          • Amy says:


            Ummm I’ve lived in Stone County, AR all my life and I’ve never heard of Oakland….sorry.

            Tippy is inside at the moment but she is going to have to go back out soon. I have a very early morning tomorrow and my babies are jealous that she is in thier home and everyone is letting everyone else know whose turf is whose.

          • kerri says:

            Oakland is in Marion County, Amy, not more than an hour, maybe 1.5 hours from you. Bringing a new dog into your home is tricky. I didn’t do it right with Chloe, but we’ve had better luck with Abbi. It’s all about you establishing yourself as the pack leader. Once everydog knows that, then make sure the alpha dog gets things first: Petted, meals, treats, to show order of importance in the pack. This will keep the alpha from feeling threatened and starting fights. There’s a lot of reading online on this subject too, Amy. Unfortunately, I didn’t bookmark the site I read last week before bringing Abbi in.

    • Vida says:

      Hi Amy, Kerri is right in that it’s no life for a dog to be permanently chained or penned.

      You could try putting your dog on a leash and slowly introducing her to the inside of your house. If she takes it well, let her spend some time indoors with you so that she feels a part o the family, the “pack” so to speak. You could also start training her, teaching her basic commands like “sit” and “say”. Also teach her “NO” so that she begins to understand her boundaries.

      For her pen mate, if it is not a physical problem, you could observe how long after he drinks water he needs to go. Is there a pattern? In winter you can then control his water intake so that if you wish to slowly introduce him indoors he will not pee indoors. If he has emptied his bladder and he does not drink again, he won’t have to pee. You could also teach him that it is good to pee outdoors (with praise) and show your displeasure (reprimanding him) if he goes indoors. But please make sure that it is not a physical problem, otherwise the poor dog will not be able to control himself no matter how you try to train him and he’ll feel terrible about incurring your displeasure. Try setting up a routine of allowing him to drink, then letting him pee, then taking away the water bowl for some time to see if he “holds” and for how long. Of course he will always need water with food and if he has had exercise or if it is very hot. Now in winter is actually a great time to start a routine.

      Finally, both will need lots of exercise and if you take them for walks and let them have playtime, they will be much more docile and easier to train.

      I hope you find a way to live with these two dogs that is good for you and for the both of them. It takes time to establish a rhythm and a relationship but you’ll be surprised how things sometimes fall into place. Good luck.

      • Kerri says:

        Thank you very much, Vida, for this useful info! I just love how helpful our community is toward one another!

      • Amy says:

        Thanks Vida,

        I’m going to try. I fully agree that is no life for a dog. I hate it and my 3 babies have never had to live like that. Poor Tippy wants her boy though and if she goes back up the driveway and gets into the chickens again she’ll be shot. So until I can break her from going up there she has to stay confined.


  9. V Schoenwald says:

    My “posse” of cats and now 2 dogs is a family. They all look to me for food, thats really important, and then a bed to take over or the floor to make a obstacle course out of.
    Abbi is so lucky to have both of you, you are truly “family” in the sense, a haven. Yep, foster then “guess what” just stay. My issue is I have a huge invisible sign over my porch that says “come on in”.

    • Kerri says:

      I think I have the same sign. 🙂 I really don’t know what I would do without my dogs. They are royal pains sometimes (like last night when Sade’s fear of the dark suddenly disappeared and so did she and Chloe for 4 hours), but they truly are what keeps me sane other days. 😉