When We Had to Move, I Put My Dog’s Needs First


This is a big month for Riggins and me. We are in the process of moving, and my baby boy factored heavily into the choice of where we are going.

Circumstances led us to have to find another place to live. The last time we moved, Riggins was 1 year old. Next month, he will be 11. That means we have spent most of his life in a cute little house in an area where Los Angeles meets a couple of its suburb cities. The house was chosen for Riggins all those years ago. It had a backyard that the owner fenced in specifically for him, and it was close to friends, so when I went out I could get home to him quicker.

Not to worry: Riggins isn’t being boxed up. (Photo courtesy Wendy Newell)

We’ve gone through a lot in this house. Our first New Year’s morning, we both were jolted awake by a horrible boom. We sat up simultaneously in bed and looked at each other with wide eyes; I wrapped my arms around him and hugged him close with the knowledge that the end of the world was near. It was actually just a flyover by a B-2 stealth bomber as it made its way over the Pasadena Rose Parade only a few miles away. Easily survivable!

When it became clear we were going to have to move, the first concern was finding a place that would allow Riggins to stay with me, comfortably. We have all heard stories about owners surrendering their dogs to shelters because their new home wouldn’t allow the dog to live there. That would NEVER be an option for Riggins and me. We are a team, and if I was moving, he was coming with me.

Riggins and I "share" a chicken broth bday treat in the backyard for Riggins' second birthday. (Photo by Wendy Newell)
Riggins and I “share” a chicken broth treat in the backyard for his second birthday. (Photo courtesy Wendy Newell)

I remember, years ago, going to a woman’s apartment who was a friend of a friend. I was so impressed with her space, and when I told her so she let me know that she had a list of things she required from a house, and she wasn’t going to settle for anything less. As she rattled off her list, it struck me that many of her needs were dictated by her young son. At the time I didn’t have any children, two- or four-legged. I was young and very single. The thought of taking into account the needs of others when deciding where to live was something foreign yet noble. I respected her for demanding the best for her small family.

When thinking of what I needed in a new home, I thought of that woman’s list, as my list also took my baby boy and our small family into account. Riggins would need:

  • A backyard to hang out in.
  • Easy access to our space, since he is getting older and his hips are starting to hurt.
  • A safe location to hang out in when I am away from the house.

The two of us were lucky, really lucky. One of my dog-friendly friends had finished the tiny apartment on her property, and it not only checked off all the boxes that I required for Riggins but came with other benefits.

Riggins and his mini-me, Louie, patiently waiting for a treat. (Wendy Newell)
Riggins and his mini-me, Louie, patiently waiting for a treat. (Photo by Wendy Newell)
Land-dog Fredo! (Photo by Wendy Newell)
Land-dog Fredo! (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Riggins is friends with his soon-to-be land-dogs, Fredo and Louie. It’s perfect that the three will share a backyard and be able to sun themselves together just outside my front door. Having to move also means retiring from my current dog-sitting business, and I know Riggins is going to be sad not to have his friends around.

Louie is a Chihuahua mix full of energy and love. He also looks like Riggins’ mini-me, and they both share an appetite for anything edible. Fredo is an old man who wobbles around, plopping down where he sees fit and making himself comfortable. Fredo and Riggins have spent lots of time together and are nap buddies, each respecting the other’s space and need for uninterrupted snoozing. Fredo and Louie are the prefect companion pups for my sweet baby boy.

Riggins and Louie, still looking for treats. (Photo by Wendy Newell)
Riggins and Louie, still looking for treats. (Photo by Wendy Newell)
Seriously! GIVE US TREATS! (Photo by Wendy Newell)
Seriously! GIVE US TREATS! (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Of course, it is also a plus that our landlady is a HUGE fan of Riggins. Her love of pups easily matches my own, and Riggins is always thrilled when he gets to see his Aunt Kris. Since Riggins’ goal in life is to have everyone he loves living under the same room, all piled up in the same bed, I have to assume he will be overjoyed when he realizes one of his human besties is sharing a wall with him!

Riggins loves his Aunt Kris. (Photo by Wendy Newell)
Riggins loves his Aunt Kris. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

As Riggins and I move on to the next chapter of our lives, I’m excited to be sharing a tiny little apartment with him. It seems like the perfect time to downsize and take stock of what is important and what I really want. Right now, what I really want is to be with my baby boy and share time with him during his senior years. Honestly, I don’t know if I would be willing to take a shot on a small studio apartment if I didn’t have Riggins. At this moment, though, it seems right. The two of us together, snuggled close!

Has your dog shaped where and how you live? Let us know in the comments below.

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