I was about six years old when started stealing dogs out of neighbor’s yards. My mother would roll her eyes as I swore the Newfoundland in my room wasn’t Lily from across the street, but was another Newfoundland (or Beagle Henry, or Border Collie Travis, or mutt Millie) who looked just like her, so could I keep her?

My life of crime ended before I turned seven, when I realized that there was no good way to hide a dog under a bunkbed in a 9’x9′ room you shared with your sister even if you could sneak it past your parents, and that eventually they all seemed to want to go back outside, or at least to the kitchen to snack.

I was a professional dog trainer for decades, both part and full time, and I am currently the Executive Director of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

I am the single parent of two grown sons, Thing 1 and Thing 2, who are home often but not often enough as far as I’m concerned.

When the kids were small we had an adoring, sweet and kid-centered American Eskimo, Emma, who died when the kids were four. Then, for fourteen years we shared our lives with two loving, lovely Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, Betty and Addie. We lost Betty in June, 2014, Addie a year-and-a half later. In May 2016, few months after losing Addie, Thing 1 convinced me to foster a dog as the house was too sad and dog-less. I hadn’t fostered a dog in many years, though I’d fostered quite a few in the past.

Rejected by three potential adopters, Nellie is my first “foster fail.” A mildly hideous, middle-aged, red-tick beagle, she is proving to be equal parts endearing and diabolical.

This blog is dedicated every pet I’ve ever had or stolen, and to all the humans having perfectly rational discussions with their dogs every day.

Marjie Alonso