Welcome Our New Family Member!

As you all know, our goodest girl, Nuka passed away in May 2022 from large masses in her lungs. Her death was unexpected; however, due to her age, we knew we only had a limited time with her. After her passing over the rainbow bridge, Beckham became depressed, anxious, and extremely sad. He has never been the only dog in the household, so the loss hit him especially hard; hence, we started to look for our new family member to help him through the mourning process.

Welcome Our New Family Member, Chai!Welcome Our New Family Member, Chai!

Chai was born January 21, 2022 in Connecticut at The Flying Buffalo’s Alaskan Malamute Ranch. In June 2022, my husband took my boys on a “boy’s trip” to meet the breeder, Lisa and her family in Indiana (midway between Connecticut and Arizona).

Lisa advised that Chai is a nervous little girl, but she warms up to her people fairly quickly. She would need some training and patience, but she would be a sweet dog for her forever family. We were ready to take on that challenge! All of our pets have been a little nervous or had some behaviors to work through, so we knew Chai would fit in just fine.

First Moments

The moment my boys laid eyes on Chai, it was love at first sight! Joshua, my oldest, took to her right away and made sure she felt safe with him. Caleb and Micah were a little more active and noisy; however, Chai warmed up to them by the end of the trip.

All the kids and Chai had a blast traveling back to Arizona. They were able to visit family in Colorado, camp in beautiful Utah, and also check out the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. (I was a bit jealous because they got to have all the fun while I was home working!)

Chai did well on the trip home. She loved checking out the new places (even if she was a little scared at times), getting to know her human brothers, and even accepting loves from my husband.

I could not wait to meet her!

Our New Family Member is Home!

The family arrived home on a Wednesday, while I was at the office. Do you know how hard it is to work when you are anticipating the arrival of your new puppy? My production that day was probably not what it should have been.

Once the work day was done, I happily sped home to meet this beautiful, little red girl.


I walked in the door, ignored my husband and kids, and immediately went to my oldest’s room where he was hanging out with Chai. Okay, I really didn’t ignore the family… I said hi, and then ran up the stairs. Chai was just as stunning in person as she was in the photos. Her fur was a beautiful red and white with little crimped tufts around her ears. Her eyes were an amazing amber color, and her tongue was always hanging out of the side of her mouth!

She was a little nervous meeting me; however, she gained a little confidence with Joshua by her side. I was just as smitten with her as my kids.

Meeting the Rest of the Fur Family

We introduced Chai to Beckham slowly, knowing that Beckham just lost his best friend, and that Chai is in a brand new environment. We didn’t want any territorial tendencies to come out on Beckham’s part, and hoped that Chai’s transition to Beckham’s little sister would be smooth.

Beckham was super intrigued. Who was/is this little red girl in his house? Does she get to stay? Will she be a good fit in the family? Poor Chai had to deal with Beckham’s overly excited/nervous meet and greet..but don’t worry! We took it slow and they are now inseparable.

The cats, on the other hand, were not amused by this new puppy in the house. Hunter would not have anything to do with Chai unless he had a tactical advantage. He would sit on the table or counter, reach down when Chai walked by, and give her a good swat. Obviously, Hunter was the boss and Chai better believe it!

Jazz, my special little Torbie, wasn’t sure what to think of this new member of the family. She basically followed Hunter’s lead, and stayed above Chai’s eye-level, so she could learn more about this new floof. Is Chai a friend or foe?

Six Months in with Our New Family Member

We are now going into January 2023, Chai’s 1st birthday, and she is thriving! She definitely has puppy energy and loves to tear couches apart if she is bored; however, she is the most cuddly, sweet, and smart little girl.

Fun Times with the Human Brothers

The boys have so much fun with Chai. They love to help train her on her good behaviors, teach her how to say “hi”, “hello”, and even “I love you”. They work with her on her giving high fives and hugs, and run around the house playing chase. Chai especially loves to run with Micah, my youngest. They run up and down the stairs chasing each other from room to room…and past Mr. Grumpy Old Man, Beckham.

On walks, even on the harness, Chai loves to pull. You can tell she is definitely an Alaskan Malamute, because she looks as if she were pulling heavy cargo down the walkway…and she is FAST! There have been times when I have almost lost my balance because she has to run faster than Beckham…or Micah…or Caleb.

Chai is also the biggest snuggle bug. She loves to sit next to her family members and make them hold her paw while she is getting scritches. She also gives hugs when her family returns from an outing or if she is excited to see the boys.

She is still a little skittish around people that are not her family; however, she is doing so much better than when she first came home. She sneaks sniffs of people that she doesn’t know to get more familiar with them and then will slowly warm up as long as the person is willing to work on her terms. So far, everyone has been extremely accepting of her requests!

Shenanigans with the Fur Siblings

Chai and Beckham are hilarious together. It has taken Beckham a little time to understand that he can play with Chai, and it has been great to watch how he has broken out of his “fun police” shell. Chai goads him into play and within minutes, both are play-bowing, barking, and wagging their tails…and then running crazy through the yard.

They are both food motivated, so Chai has taught Beckham a few things on how to say “hi” or how to high-five for treats. Who knew old dogs could learn new tricks?



she loves her crackers!#mybabydog #alaskanmalamutelife #malamutelife #alaskanmalamute #dogsoftiktok #floof #malamutesoftiktok #mydog #petsoftiktok #happydog #crackertime #snacktime #iloveyou #chai

♬ original sound – Beckham, Chai, Hunter, & Jazz


Hunter and Chai have become great friends and now even play together. Chai understands that Hunter has claws and Hunter understands Chai has teeth and a great right hook. They chase each other through the house and on occasion, Hunter will surprise attack Chai…and the boxing match is on! Chai is extremely gentle with him, so it is neat to watch how their relationship has evolved.

Chai knows that Jazz is not a normal cat. She is extremely gentle and loving with her and doesn’t chase or box with her like she does Hunter. There are occasions when Chai will nudge Jazz, and Jazz will swat and hiss at her, but Chai just lets her do her thing. They will walk together through the house, but it is like Chai is trying to take care of Jazz and make sure nobody else gives her trouble.


So, with a full heart, I am glad to say that Chai, our new family member, is thriving! She is such a blessing, and I can’t believe we are so fortunate to have her as part of our family.

She fits in with my kids, my pets, my husband…and even me! She loves us unconditionally, and the feeling is mutual. I can’t wait to see what the future brings with our silly little girl, Chai.

You can check out some of hers and the fur babies’ shenanigans on TikTok “@4furrystooges“, on Instagram at “brikel4“, and on Facebook Reels under “Kelly Bernier-Smith“.

Check them out and let me know what you think!


16 thoughts on “Welcome Our New Family Member!”

  1. I really enjoyed reading the story of how Chai joined your family. It is always devastating when a pet dies, but sometimes we just need that nudge to take a chance on a new pet and it looks like it was denfinitely the best decision for your family as she has fitted right in. I just didnt see the red you speak about in her photos. 

    I loved your description of how the cats took to her in typical cat fashion. Cats are total snobs.

    1. She is definitely a full Red Malamute. The pics may just make it look a little darker or more brown. The cats did finally accept Chai, but only on their terms! haha!

  2. Hi kelly, this was a great read for me because you showed the process of how love grows. You clearly expressed what loving a pet is in the sense that when Beckham lost a friend your family made it a point that another friend for Beckham was found. I would say you brought Chai as a relief and comfort for your kids and pets. Indeed kelly what you and your family did is what keeping the spirit of pets live. I have come to realise that whilist you were helping your pets your kids were also comforted. Above all you showed how pets and humans interact well through time. All that is needed is to allow love to grow through an input of effort based on time!
    Thank you kelly, this was a great read.

    1. Thank you so much for your comments! We really struggled as a family when Nuka passed away. I knew Beckham was connected to Nuka and that her death would have a huge effect on him. What I didn’t expect is how deeply he struggled with the loss. When we brought Chai home, he definitely perked up and became his goofy self again. In addition, the kids really got to see that pets grieve too, and that we all can benefit from helping each other through our grief.

      Enter Chai…Chai has shown Beckham how to live again, but she has also shown the kids that love does grow. It’s difficult bringing in a new dog after one has passed, but the kids see that opening up their hearts to another pet, allows for learning, laughter, and more love!

      Again, thank you for your comments!

  3. Welcoming a new family member always brings mixed feelings: excitement and anxiety. While we are very excited to have a new family member, it could also make us or somebody else in the family anxious. ☺ That’s because we have the feeling that things might not be the same as before. I believe this goes the same when getting a new pet.

    We had many pets who came and left and we always took the time to mourn those who passed away. And when everybody is ready for a new family member then we start searching.

    You are so blessed to have Chai as the newest member of your family. But Chai is one lucky pup too because you welcomed her into your home with open arms and showed her how much love you can give. I can just imagine how happy Beckham was to meet his new baby sister. 

    1. We are truly blessed to have Chai as a member of the family. Beckham was happy to meet her, but she has taken on the role of the annoying little sister at times. haha! The nice thing is she brings out the playfulness in Beckham, so we are happy!

  4. Expecting a new four legged family member is always very exciting, but it can be nerve wracking at the same time, specially if you have other furry friends to consider. How will the other pets in the family treat the newcomer. Will they accept the new pup, or make him feel unwelcome and ostracise him. 

    It sounds as if Chai had a beautiful introduction into your family. From the trip to collect her, to the kids loving her, and then the existing cats and dogs accepting her, you indeed gave her a warm and welcoming reception. Thank you for sharing your great experience.  

    1. It was definitely nerve wracking when she came home. I wasn’t sure it would work because I wasn’t there to greet her and formally introduce her to Beckham. Fortunately, my husband has worked with me on dog intros before when I worked in a shelter’s behavior department, so he knew what to look for! It also helped knowing my pets’ personalities very well and knowing how they would most likely react. 

      We are so blessed to have Chai as part of the family! She fits in very well and brings out the best in all of us! Thanks for your comments. 

  5. Hey, Dear Kelly. I enjoyed reading your post. It’s obvious how much you and your family love your pet. As you have mentioned pets are one of our family members and they return all the love they get to us. It’s very impressive how well you express Chai to us. I enjoy reading it.

    1. Thanks so much! Yes, pets mean the world to my family! They bring so much joy and happiness and help us when we are not feeling our best. They play in an integral role, and I am happy to be able to share our experiences with others. 

  6. I read the article to the end to see how you introduced Chai to Beckham. I had three lovely dogs (Captain, Rolly and Chase) and had to introduce a new one (Zuma – 3 months old). My wife and I were experienced and did not know of their tendencies for territorial dominance. It was not a palatable experience. Captain growled while others sniffed around Zoma. Until we left them alone, within three minutes, Captain had bounced on Zoma and gave her a deep bite. He kept throwing her up until my wife ran to the scene. We took Zoma to the vet and took good care of her, it was not a palatable experience

    1. Oh my goodness! I am so sorry to hear about Zoma…that is super scary especially at such a young age. Dogs can definitely be territorial and it is best to introduce them in a neutral spot and see how they do there. If they are ok, then you can start moving towards where your dogs feel at home. 

      My husband introduced Chai to Beckham since I had to work, but I told him to make sure somebody was with the dogs at all times in case Beckham decided he didn’t appreciate a new little sister. We also made sure they slept and ate in different areas until they became more comfortable with each other. 

      I honestly think that it was an easier introduction because we already knew that Beckham loves to meet any dog he comes in contact with…plus he is really derpy! Even then, we still wanted to be cautious. 

      Were you able to incorporate Zoma into the family? Did Captain ever accept her as part of the pack? I really hope everything worked out for your family!

  7. I found the tale of Chai’s introduction to your family to be quite interesting to read. It is always heartbreaking when a pet passes away, but sometimes we just need that push to try our luck with a new pet, and it appears that getting a new pet was without a doubt the best choice for your family as she has adjusted quite well to living with you all. It appears that Chai was welcomed into your family with open arms and warm embraces.

  8. This was a lovely wholesome read. I’m sorry for your loss. I know how hard losing a pet can be. On the bright side, you have a new babe who needed a loving home and I am so happy you were able to find each other. I am glad to see that there is another blogger out there doing the thing that I am also trying to do and keeping it personal. 

    1. Thanks so much Victoria! I try to write like I am talking to a good friend or coworker. I keep the meat real, but add in my wicked sense of humor and overall silliness! haha!

      Thank you so much for the comments!

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