Wild Child!

Two weeks after we brought Livi home, I saw a video in which a dog was lost and found six months later because of his microchip. That made me curious about Livi. I went back through the records that Animal House had given us to make sure she had a microchip. As I reread the Animal House records and started putting dates together, I became completely unglued.


Livi had had an owner, who relinquished her to Animal House on June 8th. She had been adopted on June 22nd. They surrendered her on July 8th. She was adopted again on July 22nd. 

Then given up—yet again—on August 1st. We took her home that same day. 

We were the fourth family she had been within less than three months! For her last relinquishment, the reason given to us was that the “parents” didn’t realize how much time and energy it would take to have her home. Wm didn’t care. We were going to take her home.


Even though I still thought she was still ugly, quite high-maintenance, and very stubborn, at that moment, I looked into her eyes and told her, “You are home, Livi. You will never go back to Animal House. You are wanted.”  

Throughout my teaching career, I’d seen what multiple placements could do to children and teens. They typically rebelled, seemingly knowing that no one loved them enough to keep them. I was very concerned that Livi might have the same adjustment problems. 

And, since I was home all day, I knew I would bear the brunt of it all.


Enter Loki.


Even though Loki and Livi didn’t quite bond during the visit to Animal House when we adopted her, Loki tolerated her at home. Her behavior during the first week consumed me, as she sook attention—positively or negatively.  

I started with getting her on a schedule. Loki is very laid back and agreeable to whatever “going out” and feeding times happened during the day. I quickly realized that Livi was a greedy eater. She would eat any food that wasn’t nailed down or put beyond her reach. Her 30-pound body made me think that she hadn’t missed any meals, but just like a child, she needed structure and predictability.

She started mimicking Loki from day two. The second night, after I wrestled her into bed, she remained there all night. When Wm got up at 5:30 to get ready for work, he told her to “stay,” and she did. I got to sleep in until eight am, before Loki was at the bed’s side, nudging me. 

She quickly caught on and was right there beside him. She hadn’t started barking at six am, as she did the morning before. I hoped that things were getting better.

We went outside, and she indiscriminately did her business. While Loki likes privacy, always heads to the back corner of the fence—and refuses to look at us—she just squatted and let it go. Beside me. In the garden. By the walkway to the backyard. Behind the garage. She didn’t care. But at least she knew to do her thing.


When we entered the house, I held up my right index finger to Loki. This means to sit. I then gave him a treat. Livi was WILD!! She jumped on me with those sharp nails and barked like nobody’s business. I told her “no,” and ultimately, she stopped. As I had with Loki, I held my finger up and pushed her butt to the ground for a second. Then I said, “sit,” as I pushed her behind down yet again and held up the finger. Then I showed her my hand, palm facing out, and said, “stay.” As I gave her the treat, she jumped up on me and scarfed it down. She had progressed, but just a little. 

I knew I had a lot of work to do.


Before Livi, during the morning hours, I would make Loki an egg for breakfast. We would come in from the initial backyard visit, and he would relax as I drank my coffee and woke up. He was just happy whenever I gave him the egg.

This chick wasn’t having any of that. On Sunday, her first morning with us, I’d given them both an egg as I’d made Wm’s sausage and gravy. She remembered. On Monday morning, once she and Loki got their treats, Loki retreated to the living room to look out of the glass door. Livi sat right by my foot. And barked.  Incessantly. Did I mention she barked?! Knowing that I was creating a monster, I whipped up eggs for them both. 

I got out the small plates and divvied the eggs up. Then I took them to the living room, where I was going to eat my breakfast. Livi yipped the entire time. I was wondering if I had the stamina to deal with such a demanding dog, as Loki is very chill and amenable to going with the flow.

I placed the egg dishes out of reach and got her to sit down, ultimately. Loki sighed from the rug by the door, having none of her nonsense. 

I sat her egg down, and by the time I’d sat Loki’s egg in front of him, she’d eaten hers. She paced back and forth beside Loki, but since he’s over twice her size—and doesn’t mind baring his teeth to her—she decided against going after his egg.


Because the Animal House didn’t know whether she was potty-trained or not, I decided to take them out hourly. Before Livi, Loki didn’t care what the schedule was, so I did what I had to do and took him out whenever I had time. The Ring Doorbell records what time there was motion at the door, and I began checking my phone to make sure we didn’t go over an hour between backyard visits.


She craved attention. Loki was chill. He would nuzzle up next to me wherever and get a rub. Not Livi. If she wanted attention, she would bark, jump, nip—to make her presence known—just to let me know she felt ignored. During the times that frustrated me the most, I’d remember her background and the fact that she’d been shuffled from place to place, including Animal House, seven times in the past three months. Because of

my experience, I was mindful enough to appease her.


Wm works in an un-airconditioned warehouse. When he gets home in the evening, he is exhausted. But the first couple of weeks with Livi made me more tired than he was. 


I’ve been retired for three years. If you’ve read about Loki, you know that I was a tad hesitant about adding him to my life. During the past eight months, he has become my soulmate. His eyes look into my heart, and he can make everything ok for me, even if I feel like crap. He is so freaking GOOD!  

And, now, Livi. She’s a wild-child who has been sent from home to home many times this summer. I kept telling Wm that I just wasn’t sure I was able to deal with her puppy-ness. 

But in my mind, I remembered that she’d been in and out of homes so many times, and I was determined to make it work. 

She was not going back to Animal House. I resolved to make it work.


Published by Kjohnson

I'm a retired teacher and writer. I love to cook, bake, remodel, and play with my soulful dogs, Loki and Livi

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