Riley the World's Most Standoffish Dog has been more standoffish than usual lately. cringing from strokes as though he thinks we're going to smack him. sleeping under the kitchen table instead of upstairs with the rest of the pack. i hear him mutter from time to time, as he stalks through the house, keeping well out of range of ear scratches: in a box, in the closet.
i think he's jealous that i've been blogging so much about toby, and i think he believes he deserves a real story, not just (as i heard him grumble last weekend), "another frickin' interlude."
he's probably right. but it's been a busy week and i haven't had time to come up with a new story. so i'm borrowing one from the other blog. i'm certain it won't satisfy riley. but maybe it'll mollify enough to let me rub his belly.
Kibble Madness II: A Riley Puppy Story
Riley was a wild puppy. wary, standoffish, chip-on-his shoulder. we got him from the pound, but he had previously lived in a difficult home, and he didn't know how to play or wag his tail. he had an 'i don't need nothing from nobody' attitude. the last thing he did before leaving the pound was to walk up to a cage that held a big yellow Lab and swipe the cage with his paw. Whack! Take that, you noisy Lab! so long, sucka! and then he trotted out the door behind us. that's the kind of puppy he was.
At home, he was hard to train. He bonded immediately with Boscoe but not with us. he was not trusting of humans. he never made eye contact. he refused to come when called. still, he was adorable and funny and healthy and we figured he'd come around eventually. we hoped.
meanwhile, we had changed Boscoe's diet (see previous Kibble Madness installment); the secret to getting him to eat right and slow down was, of course, more expensive kibble. so the old cheap stuff went into a big black garbage sack in the garage, where it no doubt fed countless mice.
one day a couple of months after getting riley, i looked outside and saw him lying under the lilac bush at the end of the yard. he was listless, not moving. this was very unlike riley, who generally spent his time chasing squirrels (he can run right up the side of a tree higher than doug's head) and barking at the neighbor's cat. but this spring day he was just lying there, looking miserable. i called to him, and he staggered out. his belly was bloated to about three times its normal size; he looked like a riley balloon. he wavered a few steps, and then threw up.
what the? wha-- did he get into some kind of poison? i ran into the garage to see what i could find, and there was the black plastic garbage sack on the floor. it had been torn into, and most of boscoe's old kibble was gone. riley must have had a great time gorging himself. i threw the rest of it into the trash and went back out. riley lifted his head pathetically and slowly wagged his tail.
and that's when i learned one of the Riley Truths, something that has proven true over the years: when he's sick, he's the most loving dog in the world. i brought him in the house and he cuddled with me all evening.
the next day he was his old standoffish self again. racing around the yard, zooming up the sides of trees, ignoring us completely. but i had learned that when the chips are down, he trusted us to take care of him. we had turned a corner; in riley's own strange way, we had bonded.
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