Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Our Dog Riley

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Stevie here. I'm taking a break from posts about parenting our kids to talk about parenting another important member of the Kinnear family.

We've mentioned him here and there in the past but he's usually in the background. So I'm here to tell you his story. 

Meet Riley.

Riley has been my buddy since I was a junior in High School. I don't think John fully realized that the dog and I were a package deal. So after we got married, Riley came with us when we bought our first house. In fact, when we bought our house, one of the selling points was that it was the same layout as the house we'd been renting, we thought it would be an easier transition on the dog. 

One thing you need to understand about Riley. He's a little....odd. He's an apple-head chihuahua and comes with all the neuroses that come with that title. As a small look into his life: 

He won't go down a flight of stairs if at any point he will need to walk across tile or linoleum. But it's fine to cross on the way up. He won't eat his food if his bowl is touching any carpet. And if anything makes a noise while he is eating, he won't eat that bowl of food. A new one is required. When he wants to get on the couch, he will let you know with subtle whimpering. So you can bend down to get him but he's going back away. You need to sit up and bend back down two more times and he'll concede on the third attempt. He'll only sleep if he's in some way covered by blankets. Which is most of the day. 

John and I have grown accustomed to his little ticks and I actually find them rather endearing. As much as John likes to complain about him, I know that he loves him. And that he'd do anything for him.

About five years ago marked some big changes for Riley. He had some problems with his knees that he'd had since birth. He had major surgery on his leg and a long recovery. I was also pregnant with our first child at the time. He was there through the whole thing, ready to sit with me through all my hormonal laughing and crying and would come downstairs to sit with me when I needed to watch horrible reality shows and eat ice cream in the middle of the night because I could. 
He didn't know what was in that big belly, but he sure seemed to think it was comfy.

Riley has been such an important part of our family and in teaching our kids a new kind of love. After his surgery, we had a constant background noise of "gentle! Gentllleeeeee.......". He taught the kids how to be patient, and calm. They've turned into his protector. Duchess is the first one to stop her friends when they try to pick him up. She's the first one in the door to give him his dental treat. She is the first one at dinner time to make sure everyone knows that he needs his food, too!

 Riley has a hard time getting around some days, even with his surgery. He's on anti inflammatory medications for his joints and we all work together to make sure he doesn't use the stairs more than he needs to. Now that he is 12 years old, we've recently transitioned him to a new dog food meant specifically for his age group.

We went to PetSmart and picked up ProPlan Bright Mind food that's specially formulated for dogs 7+. It was super easy to find, they have a whole line for big and small breeds. We were really hoping to start seeing some improvements in some of his cognitive awareness on a food that's formulated for his age group. I'm happy to say that he LOVES it. We've never really been able to get him to like hard foods but he just devours this.  

Once dogs reach the age of 7, their glucose metabolism changes and they start to decline in their cognitive awareness. I'm really looking forward to seeing some improvements with Riley. I'm hoping to see some differences in our interaction and getting him interested in playing again. I love my dog. I want him to play and cuddle for as long as he can.

For the past 12 years, he's been there through moves and friendships and relationships and breakups and marriages and children. He's seen me laugh and laid with me when I've cried. He's loved my children and loved my family unconditionally. And we couldn't imagine life without him.



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  2. Riley is ace! Interesting that you're looking for an improvement in cognition now that you've changed his food; I do a lot of reading up on nootropics for humans, since I've had so many concussions from sports. Sorry to read about his knee probs, *touch wood* Ted our springer hasn't had any health problems yet