A few weeks ago, I sent my mom and sister an important group text. I told them that while working from home, I had decided to take a break from sitting and staring at my computer, so naturally, I put on Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and proceeded to lip-sync and dance around my living room. My captive audience? My 8 pound, Chihuahua & Jack Russell Terrier mix, Riggins. He’s so supportive. My #1 fan. He sat on the couch and watched the entire performance—seriously, he didn’t look away once. I’m assuming it was probably because like his mother, he has the utmost respect for quality 80’s music, especially Whitney. Or, it was something like watching a train wreck, and I guess even tiny dogs aren’t immune to spectacles. Or, he was just really, really scared.
My husband, Mike and I adopted Riggins on February 12, 2011, when he was only 4 months old. (That’s an estimate from his foster home and Pal’s Place, a rescue shelter on the North-side of Chicago.) We had been thinking about adopting a dog for a few years at that point. Before we moved to Chicago from Atlanta, we would visit the Atlanta Humane Society most weekends to visit with the dogs. And, although we found most of them sweet and lovable, it never felt like the right fit. I always left sad though—I wanted to give all of them a home. I come from a dog-loving family and have been fortunate to call both an Old English Sheep Dog and Rat Terrier my “brothers.” We get very attached.
I give all the credit for finding Riggins to Mike, who would often send me links to Pet Finder posts, a kind of Facebook for adoptable dogs in need of good homes. And then, on February 10, 2011, he sent me this post:
My heart melted a little just looking at “Spiderman’s” sweet face. Mike and I quickly scheduled a time to meet him that weekend. Until then, I’m not sure I believed in love at first sight. Sure, when I met Mike, we had an undeniable attraction and a definite chemistry—and, although I can’t imagine loving anyone more than I love him, our love is something we grew, something we built. But when we entered that Pal’s Place foster home, and that little dog (only 4 pounds at the time), came “barreling” around the corner, his even smaller brother, “Ironman” in tow, it was instantaneous love. I remember Mike and I just looked at each other, nodding, both knowing that we had met our match.
Riggins and his brother had been the only 2 surviving puppies from a litter of 8 (making it very appropriate that they were named after superheroes). They had been dropped off at an over-crowded shelter in Southern Illinois, where they were then rescued by Pal’s Place. I wanted both of them. It broke my heart to separate them. But our apartment is just too small and we weren’t prepared to take on two dogs. We checked Ironman’s profile every day the following week and were so happy to find out he was adopted only a few weeks later.
When we took him home, he was recovering from an infection on his leg and a case of kennel cough. If you’ve ever had a puppy, you may know that at times, it feels a little like having a newborn baby, and the first few months were challenging. Understandably, Riggins needed a lot of attention and looking after. He would wake-up many times throughout the night. There were a few 3:00 AMs where Mike and I worried that we had bitten off more than we could chew. But with work and time, we fell into a new routine and we quickly began to forget how we had ever lived without him.
I call him many names—Riggy, Roo, Riggy-Roo, Roo Bear (which I then insert into the Winne-the-Pooh theme song and sing it to him), Monkey, Muffin, My Littlest Pet Shop, Boopie (not sure where that one came from), and then when he’s in trouble and I mean business, just Riggins. I should mention he’s rarely in trouble. Even when he tore a hole in our couch cushion I found it really hard to be mad at him and I secretly justified it by telling myself “he tore the hole in the cushion I usually sit on, because he missed me.” Really though, he’s named after Tim Riggins from the television show, Friday Night Lights. (If you aren’t familiar with this show, I seriously suggest you binge watch it right now on NetFlix. It’s my favorite show ever, besides maybe The Office. Texas Forever.)
I’m sure other pet parents out there will agree, coming home to your dog/cat/fish is one of the best parts of the day. I secretly love it when I get home first, because then I get Riggin’s big, excited “Welcome Home!” He can sense when I’m upset and he has his own special ways of calming me down and showing me his concern. (Does that make him my Emotional Support Animal?) He’s sweet, loving, and full of personality. I like to think he gets that from me…but, he definitely has his dad’s good looks.He loves to watch television. Especially Arthur, the cartoon Aardvark—it’s something about the theme song I think. And, although he can be pretty timid passing other dogs in the park, he barks at EVERY animal on T.V.—even big, ferocious ones he’s never seen before. How does he know?
Riggy has long legs (kinda like a Victoria Secret model), loves bananas and mini Milk-Bones, goes crazy at the mere mention of the “w” and “p” words, walk and park, so we usually have to spell them. He’s really talkative in the morning, and he could spend hours perched on the back of our couch lounging in the sun.
Chicago is a really dog-friendly city. There’s even a dog beach on the Northside. In theory, it sounds really amazing—dogs with their people, playing fetch on the beach, jumping into the lake together, roaming the sand and making friends. And actually, it is a lot like that. Unless you’re us. The one time we took Riggins there, he spent the whole time sitting on a towel far away from the water and other dogs. It was a little embarrassing. Mike and I will sometimes ask each other, “What do you think Riggy is doing?” And we like to come up with crazy responses. My favorite is that he took the bus to the Lincoln Park Zoo and he’s probably hanging out with the monkeys. It just seems like something he would do.
See you next Friday! xx, Devon