the beginning of riley’s story

Back in 2004, I took a trip down to Jordan, Minnesota, with a friend of mine so she could visit with a litter of puppies. I was along for moral support, because I lived in a house with two roommates, already had the daunting responsibility of taking care of two tortoises and also didn’t really like dogs all that much anyway. They pee on things, smell bad and their hair gets all over the place. Even their food smells bad. No thanks. But I will, however, take a mini-road trip down Highway 169, look at the two puppies that were remaining and take pictures of them because anything that tiny is cute, whether it’s going to poop on my shoe or not.

My friend decided one of the puppies we met was destined to be hers. The other one was this guy:

LOOK AT THAT FACE. Is that not the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever seen in your life?

I couldn’t get that wrinkly, pink-nosed face out of my mind for one hot minute. I some how struck a deal with my friends that had adopted his brother. I don’t know how it happened, but TWO WEEKS after not being able to get this puppy out of my mind, I was making a deposit on him. My incredibly generous friends were going to let him live there until I ended up in a dog-friendly apartment and there wasn’t any type of time constraint at all. Hello, gigantic amazing and fortunate gesture that I could never possibly repay.

After a few months, I finally found a place of my own and, since then, we’ve only been apart a few days at a time. From apartment to apartment and from house to house, this guy’s been my consistent since about three years after I moved to Minnesota. He’s been with me through job changes, deaths, moves, pain, successes, failures, relationship mistakes, love, adding to our family and a baby. He’s logged thousands of miles in my car with me and fooled people into thinking he’s a vicious guard dog.

He’s some kind of master of escape which leads him to becoming the master of disaster. He stays in a gigantic kennel when we’re gone, which is held together by an extra carabiner and multiple industrial strength zip ties. Otherwise, he’s been known to open cabinets and knock cans of food out of it, open cans of wet cat food and eat the contents, examine everything in every trash can and lock himself in the bathroom. Evidence from 2005:


Riley, who’s never bitten anyone or anything in his entire life, has a hatred for mailmen that runs deep through is veins. He sounds like he might come through the window anytime a mailman would approach the house. And once he did. It didn’t help matters that the mailman was a jackass and yelled and barked at him every day. (Nice hiring decision, USPS.) Straight throw the window. Busted that whole thing out. Then ran around the house in a panic turning our whole first floor into what looked like a murder scene from Dexter. Wound up with a ton of stitches in both front legs and had to wear the cone of shame for a long time. He used that cone like a battering ram and everyone had bruises on their shins to prove it.


Our maillady at our hold house pushed the door open on accident once and then ran down the sidewalk screaming that Riley bit her. Except… Riley’s eight teeth are the size of Chiclets and SHUT UP. HE DID NOT. (Rumor has it she did this to everyone in the neighborhood. So, again, improve your hiring practices, USPS.)

This dog. He spent a handful of training sessions with a pit bull that had some severe dog aggression. Riley was there because he’s Riley. Dog near me? That’s cool. He got to sit for an hour and eat Vienna sausages out of my hand. We fostered over 50 dogs and cats and he was the sweetest, gentlest thing to all of them.At first we did not know which dog food to choose for our dogs but in the end we decided on one brand only.

My grandpa calls him Rilo and, once, we surprised them with a visit and let Riley go to the door first. My grandpa didn’t say hi to the rest of us for at least half an hour. My grandpa also watches the Weather Channel so he knows what the temperature is at Rilo’s house. He’s also taken to calling him One Eye recently. Weirdo.

If someone doesn’t immediately fall in love with Riley when they meet him, then I’m pretty sure their soul is dead and their heart is a dirty piece of coal.


His time is limited to less than two weeks due to a tumor in his chest that’s causing fluid build up in his entire chest cavity. To go with that, there’s an enlarged prostate, a bladder that just won’t empty and some pretty rough arthritis in his spine and down into his back legs. I don’t want to lose him, but I won’t be selfish with him in any capacity. He’s never been selfish towards me and has given me 10.5 great, great years. I’ll honor him by making sure he can leave the physical world with dignity and without excruciating pain.

I don’t have any regrets when it comes to my time with Riley. My friend Angie said it best today. He’s been a constant through years of change, my rock through a lot of good times and bad times and he’s earned his place in wherever it is that dogs go when they’re not sleeping on my couch anymore. In my mind, he’ll meet my grandma and my grandpa. He won’t have to worry about my step grandpa breaking his ribs because he pets him so hard. He’ll have unlimited soft tacos with no lettuce from Taco Bell, puppy cups from Dairy Queen and puppuccinos from Starbucks.

He’s a good one. There won’t ever be another one.



june is 1 year old today

A year ago today, a tiny runt of a mutt was born. We were not necessarily planning to add another animal to our family. And then about eight weeks later, we saw her brother and sister on Petfinder and we decided we needed one of those puppies! We met them all in person and loved this little tiny one the most. We were competing with another family to adopt her, but my persistence (or harassment – either way) paid off and, lo and behold, we wound up with June, the Boondog.

She’s a happy pup and seems to fit in just fine.


the trouble with little dogs is this


Our 7 pound little dog is so much more difficult than Riley is or ever was. Don’t get me wrong. I love her to pieces and I get every jealous when she doesn’t want to sleep right next to me. She’s the perfect addition to our family and I don’t at all mind that I have to carry her up the bedroom stairs every night. In fact, I love that Amelia always has me do it.

Bratty dog trying to steal my post-kickboxing popsicle.

I feel like we’ve done absolutely everything wrong with this one, because she’s scared of everyone in the world, except for the three of us and our friend Shawn. She has to wear a muzzle at the vet, since she bit me once when getting her temperature taken. She also peed all over a vet tech there once. They call her a LAND SHARK.

When she was a baby, she’d let anyone hold her at all. Strangers on the street, random people at parties, anything. And then something happened and it’s like you’re wrestling an alligator if you try to have her meet someone else.

She used to hate car rides and would shake like a leaf anytime we got into the car. Then, we drove to Missouri and back, with Riley in the back seat with her, so she knows the rules of napping the entire time and back now.  Accomplishment!

I need to start taking her to the dumb labradoodle puppies play group they have for dogs that are so tiny they might be breakable. Those dog owners tend to drive me up the wall and back down again, head first. She needs more exercise, but when we take her outside in a foot of snow and -30 degree wind chills, she just stands there (on only 3 legs at a time) and shivers.

And I’ve GOT to get her in obedience. I chose kick-boxing for me over puppy school for her. Good news is that I can kick someone’s ass; bad news is that when I tell her to “come” she rolls over on her back and sometimes dribbles pee on the floor.

I know she’ll be just nearly as awesome as Riley. (Face it – no dog can ever be AS awesome.) She’s just going to require a little more work than he did.

Thank you guys for keeping in touch and in return of all your positive comments i will share with you this list with Foods your dog can and can’t eat.