Our Story

Hi, we’re the Wild Western Wanderers – Mala and Tessie, two rescued cattle dogs who found our forever home in the mountains of Colorado with our parents, Carrie and John, and two cats, Kali and Mateo.

The Wild Western Wanderers owe our existence to a shelter dog named Ella. While they didn’t have a name for it at the time, Ella and our human mom, Carrie, started wandering together way back in 2006 when Carrie adopted Ella from the Denver Dumb Friends League. Ella and Carrie had many adventures together. Some of which we’ll talk about in our posts.

Fast forward eight years to when our human dad, John, came into the picture. He was the first boyfriend that Ella approved of enough for Carrie to keep him around. Less than a year later, mom and dad met me (Mala) at a charity event. Mom couldn’t resist my charm (how could she – I was pretty darn cute), so even though Ella didn’t really want to be a big sister, she became one anyway. Ella took me under her paw, because she didn’t trust mom and dad to raise me themselves – she considered them fairly irresponsible.

Not long after I was adopted into the family, we took a trip to California in 2016. On that trip, mom referred to us the SEAkers, because we drove all the way from Colorado to Santa Cruz, California so that Ella and I could see the ocean. Mom really LOVES the ocean and wanted us to experience it while Ella could still run and play on the beach, of which we did a lot! Dad, who wasn’t the biggest fan of road trips at the time, flew out to meet us there.

It wasn’t until our next road trip together through Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho that we decided to call ourselves the Wild Western Wanderers. The four of us went a lot of places on that trip, but the highlight was Going to the Sun road in Glacier Park, Montana. Ella loved those vistas more than anything, and tolerated a couple of nights sleeping in a tent to experience the grand views. Ella always preferred staying in hotels on our adventures.

We’ve taken many trips since then, and some things have changed. Ella left the Earthly realm in August of 2021. Mom was heart broken because Ella had been her sidekick through so much. It took almost a year before our parents could bring themselves to adopt another family member. That’s where I come in – I’m Tessie – a spunky Australian Cattle Dog (red heeler) from Texas. We have two cats too, who will come up in some of our stories. They don’t like to travel, so they’re role when we go off adventuring is to hold down the fort at home.

You can read more about each one of us below. Follow us to learn about our adventures and our perspective on life.

About Mala

I’m the heart of the group. I love love, and giving kisses is my favorite thing to do. Mom and Dad met me as an eight-week-old fluffy puppy who had been brought up from New Mexico with my sister by a rescue group in Colorado. Mom talked dad into adopting me, because I was adorable and had such a sweet demeanor. Ella taught me a lot in our time together, especially how to protect my parents.

I have a zest for life, and am happiest when I’m with my family. Sure, I travel as part of the Wild Western Wanderers, but I’m always happy to go home so we can all be together in a safe, predictable place. My defining feature is my one floppy ear, and a couple of my nicknames are Munkin and Little White Dog (LWD for short). Some of my favorite things are playing with my little sister, Tessie, running around with big sticks, wading in cool mountain streams, and snow – lots and lots of snow! I’m fast, so it catches me off guard when I meet a dog at the park who can catch me. I practice yoga with mom, and she tells me that I’m an expert at downward facing dog and upward facing dog, but isn’t it obvious that I would be great at those – I am a dog after all.

About Tessie

If Mala is the heart, I’m the spirit. I’m fiery – I am a red heeler after all. I met mom, dad, and Mala through a twist of fate. They were interested in a couple of other dogs at New Hope Cattle Dog Rescue, but when the rescue organization called, those two had already been adopted. Luckily, I was being fostered five minutes away and needed a forever home. They came to meet me, and mom liked my spunky attitude right away (I guess I reminded her of Ella in that way). I had to meet the cats before they could decide for sure whether to adopt me, but that went great – I LOVE cats, and wish I could be one. My foster family agreed to keep me until mom and dad got back from Alaska, so it was done. I officially became part of the Wild Western Wanderers in July of 2022.

I have a mind of my own most of the time, but I’ll do pretty much anything for a treat – unless I’m busy chasing deer out of the yard. I love Mala, Mateo, and the couch most of all, but of course I love the rest of the family too. I talk to them a lot about what I want and need. My nicknames are Nugget and Torpedo Tessie (I tend to launch myself at you when I’m excited). I like to hike, strut my stuff around the neighborhood, and chase anything I can. I’m really good at finding stuff, like elk poop and deer antlers. I imitate Mala, so I also love the snow. Each of us has a heart-shaped spot on our side. I love going anywhere in the car, even if it’s just to the grocery store. It drives mom and dad crazy that I like standing on the console in the car, but how else am I supposed to look out the front window?

About Mom

I’m Carrie, one of the original members of the Wild Western Wanderers, before we even named ourselves. I adopted Ella in June of 2006, the year after I moved to Colorado from New Hampshire, and she was my sidekick for many adventures over our 15+ years together. We added to our family over the years, but I guess you could call Ella and I the OGs. I still miss that girl every day, but Tessie and Mala give me lots of love to fill my heart with joy.

I spent nearly 20 years working in Human Resources, but I left the corporate world in January of 2018 to operate my own business full time. Through Firefly Community I offer health coaching, yoga classes and retreats, and wellness workshops and programs. I love my work, and am grateful for the heart attack that I survived at 31 years old that woke me up to the fact that I was on the wrong path.

I love water and the mountains, so I spend my free time hiking, paddle boarding, biking, and trail running (when my knee allows). I finally picked up cross-country skiing to make the long winters living at 8,000 feet more fun. I love to travel and to read. I’m also a writer, so I’m the one who will be relaying the stories for the Wild Western Wanderers. The life lessons and wisdom of rescue dogs is plentiful, and I’ll serve as their voice.

About Dad

I’m John, and I came into the picture in 2014 when Carrie and I met at a charity bike event in Copper, Colorado. We clicked right away, and decided to give it a go despite our age difference. I had to get past Ella before Carrie would fully open her heart to me. That was easy though, because Ella could see that I loved her mom and would do anything for both of them, including spend New Year’s Eve in the pet hospital with Ella after she ate a whole bag of chocolate covered raisins while she was in my care (Carrie was in Belize). I’m still convinced that was a test, but luckily I passed, and Carrie and I married in 2017, with Mala and Ella as the ring bearers.

I hold down what Carrie refers to as a “real job” so that we can have a roof over our heads and maintain health insurance, but I manage to carve out time for our adventures. I was never a big fan of road trips, but I’m coming around given they are a lot more fun as part of the Wild Western Wanderers. I’m a Colorado native, so I love being outside, especially to hike, ski, and mountain bike. It warms my heart that Mala and Tessie love snow as much as I do.

About Kali and Mateo

We’re brother and sister barn cats from Wyoming. Our mom wasn’t sure she would ever get another cat after Anabelle died from kidney disease at a young age. Anabelle had moved to Colorado with our mom, and was full of personality – she played fetch, greeted visitors at the door, and used to sit on mom’s shoulder when she was doing dishes or watching TV.

As fate would have it, one day when mom was on a call with her manager at her fancy corporate job, he said “hang on, I have a kitten on my foot.” That led to mom asking for a picture of these kittens. Once mom saw the picture of me, Kali (a beautiful little tortoise-shell colored kitten), she had to meet me. She was smitten right away. When mom came to pick me up, they talked her into taking my little brother too, who was the runt of the litter, and to be honest, not the cutest kitten. He also meowed a lot!

I love to nap, sit on mom’s lap, and play with shoelaces. I’ll take dad’s lap in a pinch when mom is traveling, but I’m not super fond of other people. I tolerate Mala and Tessie, but I loved Ella, even though she didn’t always reciprocate that love. Mateo and I don’t go on adventures with the rest of the family, because we prefer being at home.

Let me jump in here – I’m Mateo. And say what you will about how I looked as a kitten, but I grew up to be a handsome boy, who is good with the ladies. Anyone who comes to the house loves me because of my outgoing personality. Mom says it took two of us to make up Anabelle’s personality – I’m the social one, and Kali is the sweet one. I’m often referred to as the clown of the house, but I also serve as an executive assistant to both mom and dad. My special skill is finding hidden menus on the computer. Dad gets a little perturbed with me when I get his work computer stuck in some strange setting, but he likes having another guy around. I love my fuzzy ball toys and stuffed mouse. I use them to train for my other job – resident fly catcher. Mala isn’t the only one who is good at yoga – I can do a pretty great supine twist, and I like to help mom meditate.

About Ella

I may be in heaven now, but I’m an important piece of this puzzle. It was fate that mom found me. She was on her way to meet an Australian Shepard puppy, but when she was halfway there she found out that the puppy had already been adopted. Mom decided to swing by the Denver shelter to see what dogs were looking for homes there. That’s where she fell in love with me.

We spent over 15 years adventuring together – hiking, camping, running, paddle boarding, and traveling around the country. I loved all of it, except camping (why sleep in a tent when we can afford a nice hotel?). I was by mom’s side as boyfriends came and went, she underwent two knee surgeries, and survived a heart attack.

I assumed the position of big sister when mom added two kittens and a puppy to our family. I happily welcomed the third boyfriend with the name John, who later became my dad. With all the changes, I made it clear that I was still the boss. They lovingly referred to me as the Queen, which was my favorite of my many nicknames (I still don’t understand why I was often referred to as Bean Doogle or L Bean).

In August 2021, I had grown weary of my battle with degenerative myelopathy, and at 15 years and 8 months old my soul was ready to leave my ailing body. We said goodbye as mom, dad, and Mala sat by my side in our home. From here in heaven with Anabelle, I watch over my family. Mom will surely tell you a lot about me and everything I taught them.

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Rescue dogs who found our forever home in the mountains of Colorado. We share our perspective on life, and adventures with our family.


We are rescue dogs who found our forever home in the mountains of Colorado. We share our perspective on life, and adventures with our family.