So much of what we do is by happenstance. We learned to live off-grid, with wind and solar energy, because there were no utility lines running down the creek road.

We became goat keepers because a neighbor’s daughter decided not to enter her goats in the county fair, and then a wether joined our fledgling herd because his companion sheep had gone off to the fair without him. He was lonely, so we took him in.

When a friend moved out of state, she left us her laying hens, and lo and behold, we quickly fell in love with our flock and their freshly laid eggs. Then, several generations of rabbits were quite enough for one grandfatherly farmer, and we found ourselves entering the world of an ever-lengthening row of rabbit hutches.

Our first homing pigeons were the offspring of a racer who had decided that the race was too long, and he would simply make a new home on a friend’s front porch. Then the little horses moved to the creek as the result of population explosion in a pasture where procreation had run wild. We quickly made sure that there would be no procreating in our pasture.

The big black dogs were really no different. Our first big black dog found us when we still lived in the city. She followed the children home from school one day, and that was that.

Several years later, after we lay her down by the creek one last time, we actually purchased another big black dog, but then we learned of a matching, homeless stray, and so we ended up with two big black dogs to swim in the creek, chase rabbits and squirrels up trees, lie lazily in the sun and sleep by our sides at night. All was well with our doggish world. Until I heard of yet another homeless dog.

This dog had been dropped off on a country road by someone in a van who had opened the door without stopping and simply sped off.

A dog foster family had seen her drop and had taken her in. They let her stay in their garage, but they could not keep her. Their world was not set up to be a permanent home to a big black dog.

I asked Greg if we could just go to take a look at her, and we did. She bounded out of the garage and rolled over at our feet. She looked up at us, wagging not just the stub of her tail, but her entire body, ever so joyously. She let us hug her and rub her, and we had no doubt that she was indeed a good dog. I looked at Greg. He nodded, and I asked her foster folks if we could take her home, just for the weekend to see if things would work out. Only then would we decide if we would keep her as our own. Of course, the family agreed.

So, several days later, we left our two big black dogs in the pen at the farm and drove to pick her up. She excitedly jumped up into the truck and happily let the wind from the open window blow her ears back. Just as excitedly, she jumped down from the truck, on a leash, and proceeded to lead us from farm smell to farm smell. In time, she calmed down, and we decided that it was time to meet our two.

We introduced her to our male first. We kept both dogs on leads and let them sniff and smell, and all was good. Then we put the male back in the pen and let the two females meet for the first time.

The new dog was happy and wagging her stub of a black tail, but our female was not so sure of this newcomer. We cautiously let them sniff. All was tentatively OK.

We decided to take them all on a walk up the creek, all three dogs on leashes. After a while, Greg let first one and then the other of our two dogs off their leashes.

The newcomer stopped and sniffed at every creek smell. The other two ran ahead, looking curiously back at her. It all seemed so amazing to this third dog, who for the first time was exploring our world. I then realized how very fortunate, and truly happy, our own two dogs were.

That first night she could hardly sleep. The sounds and smells were all too exciting. The second day we let her off the leash and let her run. She high-stepped in the creek’s shallow water as our dogs swam deep.

Our two ran after squirrels and she followed them, not knowing what she was running after, but happy in the chase. And then, in the late afternoon sun, she lay down in the grass by the cabin. Our male walked over and lay down beside her. His paw touched her back.

Our female sat on the porch and watched, still somewhat standoffish, but seemingly at ease with the newcomer. I sent a message to her foster family, letting them know that yes, this dog had found her new home.

And so it was, that quite by happenstance, we ended up living on an off-grid farm, with goats, horses, chickens, homing pigeons, rabbits and big black dogs, though it has just occurred to me that I forgot to mention the cattle, parrots and honeybees, but perhaps it is best to save their stories for another day.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at