What kind of dog is Riley, and how old is he?
Riley is a 5 year old Bichon Frise...our 13 pound white cotton ball.
Where did you get Riley? What's his story?
I first met Riley when he was 6 months old. He was the pup of a special needs teenager that I worked with in-home. Her parents were considering getting a dog to help her develop more fine motor skills. I grew up always having at least one Bichon to love and spoil, so when I told the family about Bichons-- that they are forever loyal, loving, compassionate little bundles of fuzz, and not to mention, they don't shed, they started researching breeders in the area. They found Riley and drove down to pick him up.
I first saw Riley the morning after he arrived at their home. He was VERY shy and timid...it made me believe he didn't have much human interaction in his first 6 months of life. Instantly, I fell in love with him! I was living in NC at the time, and my family lives in NY with my Bichon fur-brothers, so you could say I was going thru a Bichon withdrawal. Every day that I worked in-home with the teenager, I made it a point to include her new pup...she LOVED brushing his hair and just having him on her lap. After only a couple of months, the family realized that they didn't know how to provide proper care for a Bichon. (Regular brushing and grooming is needed since they have a coat of hair instead of actual fur.) They instantly offered him to me, knowing that I would give him a good forever home...and I could NOT resist the offer! It was a week before Christmas 2006, and it was the best gift I could ask for! I was living with friends at the time, while my husband was deployed to Iraq, and I knew he couldn't stay with me. Thankfully, my parents temporarily adopted Riley until I was in my own house 2 months later. They knew I had already fallen in love with him!
We consider our Riley a rescue-pup given his background with the other family. He wasn't on a doggie diet (they fed him heavy whipping cream because they said he needed more calcium,) they would cut human food scraps up and throw it in the backyard to make him "hunt" for his food since "dogs are hunters" in their eyes, and they never properly bathed, or groomed him. The only bath he ever had while with them was when I helped the teenager bathe him as one of our activities. His first vet visit was the day after he came home with me...and it was a good thing I knew to bring him in. He was up to date on his puppy shots from the breeder, but he needed his rabies shot, plus heart worm and flea meds...and the poor pup had fleas from their backyard!
How did Riley get his name?
I know this sounds crazy, but it has become the norm in our family to name our pups in a unique way. All of our pups' names have two syllables and end in "y." It started with Teddy, then Bailey, Cody...and our Riley. It has continued on with my sister's Bichons, too...Toby and Marley are Riley's cousins. Riley's middle name is Hugs. "Hugs" was one of the only words the teen could say, so that is what he was named when he lived with them.
Riley is not just a dog to us....he is our first born child, even if he is a fur-child. He is a person trapped in a doggie body, as we always say, and he acts as such! He has a favorite blankie that he drags around the house like Linus! We tell Riley it is time for bed, and he runs to the living room to grab his blankie. Then he comes running back down the hall to the bedroom. When we go on walks he knows to stay on the sidewalk, he uses the ramps in the sidewalk, he knows left and right, and he will do EVERYTHING in his power to avoid walking over manhole covers. When we play outside, Riley loves playing frisbee. He gets such a tight hold on his frisbee that he can be lifted in the air! While living in Hawaii, Riley was an island boy chasing down a little coconut! When inside, Riley loves playing tug-of-war with his blankie. When he isn't playing with his blankie, he is chasing down any squeaky ball...but his favorite is a white fleece one. When the ball is in his mouth you can't tell where Riley's mouth ends and the ball begins! He plays with this white ball so much that he tears holes in it, so we have a stash of at least 3 new balls in his cabinet at all times so that we can replace it when needed!!
Riley LOVES water! He spent 4 months with my parents and his fur-uncles in NY while waiting to fly to Hawaii with us. (Hawaii is very strict on their quarantine regulations, and we decided it was in Riley's best interest to spend that 4 months waiting with family than be locked in a kennel in the hot Hawaii sun.) While in NY, it was summer time, and Riley would take it upon himslef to take a swim in the pool. Once he arrived in Hawaii, he took to the beach like a pro! He would go for a dip in the ocean and then sunbathe in the sand. Before leaving Hawaii, we took Riley to the doggie beach on Hickam Air Force Base, and he LOVED every minute of it! He ran, swam, and even "clowned" in the sand!
Riley is also VERY protective of his little human brother, Chase. During my husband's last deployment, I would take Riley to the puppy park across the street every evening. Chase always came with, of course! Whenever a dog that Riley didn't know too well would approach me or Chase, Riley would go into protector mode and start growling and barking at that dog. As small as he is, Riley would ward off Huskies and Labs...all to make sure his new baby bother was safe! This bond has grown as Chase is getting older, and they two play fetch together, and Chase loves giving Riley hugs and kisses!
We wouldn't be a complete family without Riley. Our house would be too quiet without him...as well as a lot cleaner! Riley may not make a mess by shedding, but he ALWAYS makes a mess while eating. He leaves crumbs of kibble all over the kitchen and carpet...and lets not forget the dribbles of water that always end up everywhere on the kitchen floor because of his hairy beard! Riley is a perfect match for our family...he loves us unconditionally, and we know we can always rely on Riley when we need a pick-me-up. He greets us at the door whenever we get home...tail always wagging in happiness to see us, and crooked little smile saying "I missed you, Mommy and Daddy". He always knows when one of us has had a bad day, and he comes right up, jumps in our lap, and just looks at us with his big brown eyes, telling us it will all be okay in the end. My husband is in the military, and I don't know what I would do without Riley when my husband is gone I know I have my hands full with my little man, Chase, but when it is bedtime, all those thoughts of what could happen down range run through my head. Riley knows that once his brother is in bed, it is his one-on-one time with Mommy. It is that one-on-one time that I cherish with Riley. I know I can always talk to Riley about anything-- any worries I have for my husband, any frustrations I may have, or any sadness that may be running through me. I know my secrets are safe with Riley, and his presence always make me feel better. Wherever the military sends us, we know we have a house to live in, but it is not a home unless every member of the family is together...and that will always include Riley.
**A big thank you to Stephanie for letting Riley be our featured pup this week and for sharing some of her photos!**