The life of Riley, that’s literally and figuratively what my dog leads. Luckily for him, he was adopted by a dog loving family with the time and the means to give him a wonderful life. Far too many shelter dogs aren’t so lucky. In fact, too many dogs in “good homes” are still treated as property, and not as the as living, feeling, wonderful creatures that they are.
It’s a commitment to have a dog in your life, but just what does it take to make a good life for your dog? They need exercise, a decent diet, good veterinary care, things to do to keep them from getting bored and above all, as much love as you can give them.
So much of my daily routine revolves around Riley, and vice versa. My day starts a bit earlier than his. Although I would love to, I can’t afford to embrace his penchant for occasionally sleeping until noon. Most days, I’ve already been working in Tiny Growl’s home office for a couple of hours before he emerges yawing from the bedroom. He’ll walk into the room, stretching as he goes and I’ll let him out to start his day.
His first job is to sniff around our patio to see if the neighbor’s cat spent the night on the loveseat again. Next, it’s on to inspect those spots that the raccoons have been known to frequent. Once those areas are secured, he flies down to the lower yard for a thorough sniff and check. After a while, I will hear the sound of his doorbell, an assume that all of his business is done and he’s ready for breakfast.
Riley is not one of those dogs who eats quickly. In fact, his eating habits could fill an entire blog, so I’ll save that for another day. After breakfast, he always gets a burst of energy and wherever I am, I can hear him fishing around in his toy bag, which makes a loud crinkly sound, as he looks for just the right toy to present to me. We usually run around the house for a bit playing keep away, and then he’s ready for his post-meal nap, while I get back to work.
The rest of his day follows its routine of naps, punctuated by intervals of kitty and squirrel watch, trips to the yard, barking to warn me of the imminent dangers of cars coming down the driveway and the worst of all possible interlopers, the UPS or Fedex truck!
Many days, Riley will have a visit from either his fiance´ Sydney, his god-daughter Bailey (Syd’s new little sister), or both. When the girls are here, the three of them have their own routines. As for me, on a rainy Seattle day, it’s hard to get a lot of work done, when I have to wipe 12 muddy paws every half-hour or so.
On days without the girls, if I’m caught up in my work, Riley will quietly woof to remind me that it’s time for our walk. Sometimes we walk in the hood, but if I feel the need, we will head to one of our favorite parks for a good long hike.
By the time we get back, Riley is ready for dinner, and I’m thinking about my first glass of wine. After dinner, it’s time for another round of games, or Riley will find one of his puzzle treat balls and quite literally chuck it at me. I may fill it once with a few treats, but he’s too good at getting them out, so I sometimes give him a homemade puzzle, which consists of a treat inside a box or a paper tube that is destined for the recycle bin. He loves to figure out the best way to tear into the paper to find his reward.
After a movie and some couch potato time for us, it’s time for “last outs” and bed. I have to admit, that while Riley has a wonderfully comfortable bed of his own, when usually chooses to sleep with me. Since my significant other is on the road quite a bit, having Riley next to me snoring away is comforting, not to mention, he makes a really good bed warmer. Most nights, he drifts off to sleep and dreams – making little growls and soft barking sounds, kicking his legs as he chases and actually catches those rotten squirrels who will, without a doubt, be back again to taunt him tomorrow.