I find myself thinking more and more about my senior dog and her brother; Riva and Reveler will be 13 this July.
It is hard to wrap my head around that! How could it be almost 13 years since we saw these little burr heads come into the world??
Riva came home with me when she was 8 weeks old and I knew immediately she was going to be very special. At 8 weeks old she looked at me and gave me a huge Chessie grin as if to say, “you better hang onto your hat because I’m going to be a handful”!
My niece, Hailee, grew up with Riva. She is her dog for sure. Hailee doesn’t like to talk about Riva getting old, she’s a very emotional girl when it comes to the dogs. She was the first dog she showed, albeit only once, but they had a good time and did very well with each other. Hailee has always been my dog helper.
In my 25+ years having this breed and eight dogs I have only had two that were true counter surfers, but Riva holds the title of “Counter Surfer Elite”. This girl can manage to get to things you thought you had well-hidden and pushed back out of reach. Over the years she has eaten half pans of brownies, ate half my special apple pie that was for my family reunion, cinnamon rolls, and breads just to name a few. One of the most memorable counter surf incidents was when I was visiting my friends for the weekend and Riva stole the butter. My friend Michelle’s father was preparing dinner for all of us and the dogs were roaming around. He placed a stick of butter on the counter, turned around to stir something on the stove, turned back around and the butter was gone (wrapper and all), he had his hands on his hips and a look like “I could swear I just put a stick of butter there”. This was years ago and we all still laugh about it to this day. She never has any true guilt or shame about what she does, oh yea she gives you a sheepish grin with the ears back because she knows she looks cute and you will just laugh and say, “well I should have done a better job putting things away”. Even at almost 13 she still steals things off the counter.
Riva also has selective hearing. Now according to my nephew when he was about eight years old this is a real disease, lol. There was one time we were camping at the same friend’s house for a big Chessie event; another friend, Jan, was in her camper right next to our tent. Well somehow Riva got out of the tent in the late evening, so it was starting to get dark. Here I am out there with food trying to get her to come just close enough I can grab her collar. Not even once did she acknowledge me and look back, she just kept sniffing around making sure to keep just enough distance between us. You would think this food motivated dog would be easy to catch with food. Finally, after about 15 minutes I managed to wrangle her. The only comment Jan had to say, “only a mother could love Riva”. So, from that day forward that comment has stuck.
She also thinks if the door opens she must exit! I can’t tell you how many times this girl has taken herself for a walkabout around the neighborhood with me and sometimes others following. One particular incident that stands out in my mind was just a couple years ago. I came out of my bedroom to the living room and I just knew immediately she was not in the house. So, I grab my shoes, a leash and treats and rush out the door only to see my brother rounding the corner with no shirt or shoes, Riva in his arms, yes, he was carrying this 75-pound dog back home.
Riva had one litter of pups, which is where Maia and Titan came from. She wasn’t a bad mother, but she wasn’t what I would call maternal. She would feed them just fine but when it came to cleaning them she looked at me like “I am not licking their butts”, so that job was left for me for the most part. When they were old enough to be weaned I could tell she was glad to be relieved of that duty. She never even noticed when they started leaving for their new homes. I think she might have been a little disgusted when two of them stayed behind.
I tell you about all this, so you can have a sense of who she is; a dog with her own agenda! Some of you might say, “well you should have trained her better”, believe me I did my best with her. But honestly after several years I just resigned myself to this is who she is. You all might think this is strange, but I find these qualities endearing because at the end of the day I knew she loved me when she would snuggle up close to me and want me to put my arm around her while she slept. It’s Riva’s world, I just live in it!
When I look at her now graying face and watch her moving a little slower and stiffer, I remember all the antics she has done and how I would be so frustrated with her at times and think, what I wouldn’t give to have that young dog back and do it all again. It’s these memories that really fill my heart with joy even though I know her days, months and maybe even another year or two or waning. Dogs live in the moment and I would like to be like that with her, not thinking about the future but just enjoying the here and now with her. Living each day in the moment with my special Riva Diva!
Tina & the Brown Dogs