Riley-Pig: There’s Nothing Mini About Her

I imagine that dogs are like kids in some ways. I’m not talking about the obvious stuff like having to feed them and clean up their messes, etc. I’m talking about when you favor one dog over the other, depending on the current circumstances.

But, don’t worry about my dogs, I make sure to flip-flop between them when their behavior or health becomes an issue. And, as you well know, my four dogs are pets with special needs. So. I’m pretty sure I would get a reward from like PETA if I were capable of liking them equally every second of every day. I do, however, try to love them all the same. It just varies depending on the dog, the day, my level of anxiety/ the state of my mental health, and sometimes I even take LB’s opinion into consideration.

In all seriousness, these things tend to occur naturally. I don’t even realize I’m favoring one over the other until I find myself hand feeding freshly carved turkey to one and hanging heat reflective emergency blankets from the hot tub to extend the life of her favorite sun spot. That’s around the time when I have to stop and analyze my behavior. I have three other dogs that are eating dry Kibbles and shivering to death, while I’m pampering the fourth like the emperor’s royal fucking male child.

The truth is, I do love them all equally. But, I would be lying if I said I liked them all the same. Luckily, my predilection for one pet is fickle, and it’s on to the next dog within a week’s time. But, even when I’m feeling temporarily partial to another dog, there’s a particular one from the group that I spoil constantly. Riley-pig.

Why? Probably because she is sick. Also, maybe because she is hilarious and her personality is just so…enormous. It could also be attributed to the fact that she’s a Leo. Or maybe it’s a min pin thing? It’s hard to tell. But, I spoil her either way—and I think I need help if I’m to stop. She’s just so fucking fat and adorable. And, her Xena-like spirit gives her an air of superiority.

Riley, before the prednisone

Riley, before the prednisone

I don’t know what it is about Riley…she looks like a bowling ball with toothpicks for legs. Her teeth a brown because she goes into Cujo mode if we try to brush them. And, if we try to cut her nails she bites and looses her bowels all over any one or thing within in a five-foot radius.

She’s also broken two vet’s noses, and she antagonizes all the other dogs in the house. But, still, underneath that scrooge-y, little emperor exterior lies a beautiful, quick-witted, regal little cherub from Jesus (or Yahweh, or Jehovah, or Vishnu…or Whomever you prefer).

Another reason Riley probably gets so much attention is that she barks incessantly. I know what you’re thinking: she’s spoiled; it’s no wonder she barks. But, she barked when I met her and she’s been barking for like 12 years. She’s old, fat, and sick. She has an old, fat, sick lady temperament and I don’t think it’s going to change anytime soon.

So, I figure, why not let her live out her days as the perfect little communist she has become. Not to mention, Riley is also the one that has to go to the vet like once a week because she’s the only one that ever gets hurt.

My cousin Sam was the first person to point out that all four dogs have special needs. One of them nips ankles, one bites toddlers, one bites the other, and one hides from all of them in the doggy-motel.

I should be really good at this dog training business, but it’s like one of those annoying things you have to do consistently if you want it to actually work. It’s kind of like bathing. Or dieting. Or repenting for my sins. None of these things come naturally to me. But, I’m committed to these dogs; so we feed them daily, groom them often, tend to their cuts and bruises, share our home, and spend more money on treats, toys, and doggy-blankets than cigarettes.

Now that I think of it, no one ever says “If you just gave up dogs this year, you’d save so much money.” They’d be right if they did, but I’d just find something else to spend it on.

Anyway, this dog…it’s not really her fault that she’s always getting hurt—but it sort of is. It’s also sort of my fault. She’s what Caesar would call “excited-dominant”. But, really she’s just spoiled as fuck.

Let me give you an example. This is what a day in the life of Emperor Riley-Pig looks like:

She chases the ankle biter all around the house, who is, believe it or not, much bigger than she is, and growls at her viciously for no reason. She blocks the doors and harbors bones and treats and food in her secret hiding spots all over the house. Sometimes, the ankle-biter and the excited-dominant go at it…and then I have to take her to the vet for antibiotics and more doggy-valium.

I’m telling you, Riley is always at the vet’s office. The vet knows we have three other dogs, none of which he ever sees until it’s time for their shots. I’m surprised he hasn’t called DPS yet.

I also think Riley might be extremely clumsy. To balance out—or make amends for—her consistent injuries, I have proceeded to make the situation worse by fanning her huge ego. It’s becoming a problem. Or, well, it’s been one for a long time now.

LB actually insisted I make a list to document all the ways in which I spoil the dog. I finally did that, but just to be fair, you should know that she had Riley for like eight years before I met her, and when she was a puppy LB would drive her around at night to help her fall asleep. So, I will take credit where credit is due. But, she has to share at least 8/12’s of the blame for the monster we created. Anyway, here’s a list of all the ways I spoiled Riley-pig…yesterday.

  • I wrapped her medications in multiple layers of pepperoni and cheddar like little Pfizer protein wraps, and cheered her on as she ate and swallowed. I prefer this method to shoving them down her throat and stroking her neck until she chokes them down. Call me crazy.
  • I carried her…everywhere. She’s getting too fat to walk (she takes a lot of Prednisone so it’s not from the protein wraps, I can feel you judging me). Hence the whole bowling ball with toothpicks for legs. Sometimes she looks like a chocolate Twinkie (would that be the same as a Swiss Cake Roll?) with stick legs. It really depends on the angle and how the light reflects off of her humongous body (aka the position of the heat reflective emergency blanket).
  • I brought the water bowl to her—in case she was thirsty. This happens at least twenty times a day, because I worry about dehydration and steroids.
  •  She usually turns her head away and waits until I’m all the way back in the kitchen with the water bowl before barking for me to bring it back to her. Then, I sigh and carry it right back over to her sunspot/bedside.
  • I lift the covers ALL NIGHT LONG so she can crawl in and out of them—depending on her fluctuating body temperature.
  • Two words: Doggy Valium
  • We gave her a special walk that’s slightly shorter than the bigger dog’s walk and slightly longer than the closet dog’s walk.
  • I took bones from the other dogs and gave them to her because she doesn’t really understand the communal concept of sharing.
  • I tried to clip her nails, but she vehemently resisted. At this point, they’re longer than Bon Qui Qui’s at a shifty nail salon in Long Island—it’s probably really unsanitary, and it can’t be comfortable. They’re so long that I’m questioning whether she was bit in the eye or she poked it with one of her own fucking finger-knives. I’ve decided to change her nickname to Riley Scissor Hands.
  • I mixed her food with hot water and added ingredients to make it more appealing. In fact, it’s usually far more appealing than whatever we’re eating for dinner. Like, last night we had grilled cheese and tomato, and she had skirt steak because that’s the only thing I could get her to eat.

Please, don’t tell me that she won’t starve herself. She’s huge. I’m aware that she’s not going to starve to death. But, she will throw up if she takes her medicine without eating. And, I’m the one who has to clean up her vomit. If you read through this list, you know I’ve got enough on my plate as it is.

It’s beginning to feel like our male dogs are well-behaved while our females are from another planet. In reality, I don’t actually like one dog more than the rest. I just route for the underdog, I guess. They all have problems, some worse than others. Ironic thing is, the most behaved dog we have is our BC, Eddie, and he’s also the one who’s afraid of small children. It’s a mixed up, screwed up world we live in. But, it’s their world, and I’m just happy to be a part of it.

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