From the moment Riggins was allowed to socialize with other dogs as a puppy, I let him. I took him to dog parks as part of his mental and physical exercise routine. Riggins’ ability to socialize made it possible for me to become a dog sitter and for him to be surrounded by possible besties.
As a puppy, his four-legged friends needed to be able to do one thing — chase him. That was his only requirement. Much like a human child, as he has gotten older, he has focused what he looks for in a buddy. Today, his squad requirements are pretty simple, and those closest to him just need to meet one or more of the following criteria:
Long before I was a dog sitter, I would spend my weekends with a friend hiking the trails in our local mountains. She would bring her Standard Poodle, Morgan, and Riggins would join me. The four of us were weekend explorers and had a blast together. Morgan has been known to be a bully to other dogs, but he never had a problem with Riggins. Even today, years later, they are close friends when together.
Any dog who will jump up on my bed and nap with Riggins is OK in his book. Sometimes I will even shut the baby gate to my bedroom so the “old dudes” can nap together. They stretch out on the bed under a ceiling fan, allowing each other plenty of breathing room, just living the life! Honestly, wouldn’t you like a napping buddy? Sounds like a perfect relationship to me.
Sure, Riggins was a puppy once, but in the insightful words of Danny Glover’s character from Lethal Weapon, he is “too old for this stuff.” Except Glover’s character doesn’t say “stuff,” and neither would Riggins. You can see it in his eyes when a puppy bounds toward him. He turns to me and channels Glover.
Riggins is my No. 1 dog, and any dog who thinks he can dethrone Riggins rightful place in my heart does not fare well at our house. Riggins will allow me to give attention to other dogs, but there are certain times and places that are all his. He has HIS spot in the car behind the passenger seat, HIS spot on the bed in the morning when he wants to come up and snuggle, and only HE is allowed in the “no-dog zone” (aka the living room). As long as these boundaries are observed, Riggins is a happy camper.
His favorite partner in crime is Asscher, a beautiful Golden Retriever. She is Bonnie to his Clyde. Riggins will go bounding down the side of a hill, and Asscher will stop on the edge and watch, refusing to continue on with just me. She is torn. Should she follower Clyde down into obvious trouble or keep moving, saving herself? Sometimes she follows Riggins; usually she just watches and waits. Never does she leave without him.
I’m proud that I’ve raised my boy right, and he is rarely, if ever, the doggie bully in the group. In fact, he won’t let another dog be mean to his pack, even if his posse includes an over-excited puppy that day.
Where I do cringe a little bit as his mom is when Riggins does little more than tolerate a pup he obviously doesn’t like. I suppose I’m glad he doesn’t lash out at the poor dog, but sometimes he simply can’t hide his annoyance. If a dog tries to steal his food, has unfocused energy, or spends too much time humping others or “things,” Riggins will give him the cold shoulder.
Sometimes I think he acts like he doesn’t like a dog just to be a cool kid in front of his mom. We have a regular doggie guest named Sissy, who is often here along with her brother, Happy. Both dogs are young, 2 and 1 years respectively. At first glance, you may think Happy is the troublemaker, since he is the one who is instantly up in your face. But, truth be known, the real brains behind the duo’s troublemaking is Sissy.
Riggins knows this and tries to steer clear of them both. Sissy will have none of it; she loves Riggins more than anyone else she has ever laid eyes on. When she sees him, she runs up and covers his face in kisses. He will raise his chin and grunt, trying to shake his head away from the onslaught of love, but it doesn’t work.
It’s like watching two school-age kids on the playground who have a crush. She is just overcome with puppy love (pun intended) and has to let him know, while Riggins has no time for such nonsense, especially while his mom and friends are watching!
Oh, boys. You try to raise them to be respectful and a gentleman. “You be nice to that young lady, Riggins. She is just trying to show you she thinks you are a handsome boy!” I think he secretly really does like her attention, though.
What about your dog? Does he have best friends? Tell us about them in the comments.
Read more about pet parenting with Riggins:
About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of “always be closing” to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy’s new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.