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Abby the Wonder Dog

By Jim Kenshalo, April 2020, Updated February 2022

Abby, a Collbran “Wonder-dog” under a cloudless Colorado sky.

Abby has become a “wonder-dog” companion for our family. Every day, I give her a chance to run away. Every day, she sticks around the house, lying in the sun in several locations around the yard. This old hound comfortably keeps an eye on the comings and goings of our home. If it’s raining or snowing, she’s lying in a bed of dry grass under the trash trailer.

I may not know where she is, but I know she sees me. She loves to snuggle in the La-Z-Boy with me. At night, she sleeps on the wide-open floor at the foot of our bed. No fancy, fluffy Costco dog bed for her. She snores, farts, whimpers, runs and rolls around in her sleep.

Abby has awakened us several times in the middle of the night with a tired, hoarse bark. Because there was something outside that gave her the creeps.

Abby is loved and been hugged by all six of our grandchildren. Who are scattered across America.


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It was just 15 months ago when I brought her home. It took hours to coax into the house. She just stood there shaking and looking at me.

I had crystal-clear Collbran water and a small piece of moose roast in clean cereal bowls just inside the door. She didn’t move. For hours, she stood shaking. I left the lights on, left the door open and let her be.

I was in repose on my La-Z-Boy when she finally came in the house and drank the bowl of water. For the time being, she passed up that tender piece of moose roast floating in cold gravy. She then sniffed all around the house.

Eventually, she lay down in the middle of the living room, one eye on me and one eye closed. There she slept all evening. I watched Nature on PBS and let her be.

I could see that her fur was a matted mess from stem to stern. It hung in long, thick, dirty ropes. Intertwined in her fine white, brown and black hair were small sticky seeds, thorns and dried leaves. Obviously, a neglected bobbed-tail female Border Collie—and oh! How she stank!

In the car as we drove home, my first impression of this odor was a strong nose of fresh dog poop gradually giving way to undertones of old roadkill deer, with a finish of the crisp acidity of a whistle-pig squirt. What did I get myself into?

That night, an unimaginable act of violence occurred in our quiet little town. A young, strong and disturbed tattooed veteran murdered a defenseless woman who had hold of a walker with one hand and a doorknob with the other. This horrible tragedy took place a few blocks east of Main Street, in the hollow of our town. She was gunned down just a few heartbeats after answering a knock at her front door.

I, of all people, was given the one and only blessing from this deplorable tragedy. As I remember that day …

“A New Name for an Old Dog”; PV Times: December 2018

Many of us here in Collbran have been impacted, one way or another, by an individual who apparently took the life of our fragile neighbor, Janice Brown. During the day of this deplorable act, many of us were approached on Main Street by the alleged gunman.

“Please take my dog,” he yelled. Obviously, this distraught, strong young man was pleading for help. All day, that poor old hound got dragged all over town. This guy wildly begged anyone he met, and he approached a lot of people in town before he ran into me.

I had just driven up and parked my little car in front of the Collbran Town Hall. This guy, who is head and shoulders taller than me, runs up pointing his finger at me as I am trying to climb out of my little car.

Yelling, he begs me to take his sad-looking dog. Absolutely nothing this man said made any sense. I realized the dog looked more frightened than I was, and “I ain’t afraid of nothin’.”

I knelt down and tried to beckon the dog toward me. The poor thing, she only cowed away. This distraught young man grabbed hold of her by the fur. Somehow, he flung the animal up onto his shoulders. He started spinning around on a heel. He almost fell from being dizzy. I caught him from falling. This was so weird.

I am getting real creeped out by this strange-acting tattooed dude. So just like that, I opened the back hatch of my little Prius. The dizzy dog leapt from his shoulders to her fate in the back of my car. I closed the door behind her.

And, just like that, that scary guy ran away. He headed east wearing a dirty tank top, knee high shorts with bare feet in flip flops, yelling something. Never looking back.

That night, in a single breath, he takes the life of a fragile friend and neighbor. So many questions and so few answers. 

So, just like that, I have a new old dog. She is sweet, shy and she seems to like me. She does not jump up or down. She has not peed or pooped in the house. I haven’t had to tie a pork chop around my neck to get her to play with me. So far, so good. I have named her Abby, a good two-syllable dog’s name. I named her after a friend, a writing coach, a distinguished educator and published Alaskan author: Dr. Abigail Calkin.

So begins a new chapter in my life with “Abby of Collbran.”

The end.