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Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Life of Riley

We have a Beagle and his name is Riley. We always joke that when we die, we want to come back as Riley. There is no better life for a dog than the one he has. He knows true freedom. We live on 10 acres of land that includes pine forest, tamarack woods, wetlands and rolling hills. We are surrounded by neighbors who also have at least 10, 15 or 20 acres that include the same type of topography.

Riley rules it all. He has pee'd on every fencepost, sniffed every square inch of ground, chased every rabbit and howled at every intruder. He keeps watch over our chickens, alerting us if anything that doesn't belong on our property should dare to enter. He even goes so far as to 'herd' the chickens if some of them decide to stray into dangerous territory. We have witnessed this with our own two eyes! When we leave, he always wants to be outside and positions himself on the front porch, where he can see everything that might go on, and doesn't leave that spot until we return, unless he has to chase an intruder off. When we return home, there he sits and runs to meet us at the car, says his 'hellos' and then he is off and running to check his territory for the usual suspects.

In exchange for all this hard work, he is well paid. In our mudroom, next to the heating vent, is his domain. There you will find his bed, his favorite thing in the world. He even chooses this bed over the other 4 human beds in this house. Yes, he might start in one of the kids' beds, just to make them feel good, but as soon as they are asleep, he is right back in the mudroom - curled up on his fluffy, feather bed. When he decides to wake in the morning, anywhere from 7:30 until sometimes 9:00 - he immediately wants outside. He takes is usual morning 10 minute pee, goes to the weeds for more privacy to have his morning 'constitutional' and then off to each corner of his 10 acres to mark his 'spot' and warn all intruders to watch out!

After his morning patrol, he's back at the door wanting in for his breakfast. We don't follow the guidelines for feeding dogs, we cheat. Instead of the recommended 1 cup or 2 cups a day - Riley has a constantly full bowl of food, plus any scraps the kids decide to slip him under the table. If, God forbid, there is a moment when we our out of dog food and he might have to wait an hour before I can get to the store, the kids (and yes, I'm guilty, I have done it too) make him a skillet full of scrambled eggs. Yes, I said scrambled eggs - for the dog. Not just eggs, mind you, but fresh from the chicken coop, still warm, eggs. Only the best for Riley.

After scarfing down his breakfast, depending on the season, winter: Riley proceeds to lay in front of the fireplace in the spot on the rug that is receiving sunshine from the South window and enjoys a mid-morning snooze. Summer: Riley proceeds out onto the South facing screen porch (he can't be bothered with flies) and finds the sunny spot on the couch for his mid-morning nap.

Upon awakening from the nap, he stretches, wants a little affection and then back out the door for his afternoon patrols. About this time, his Beagle nose detects a scent of rabbit - his favorite thing in the world. This will lead to sometimes 3 hours of constant running at top speed with nose to the ground, terrorizing every rabbit within a 3 mile radius. Sometimes he catches them, plays with them, then kills and eats them. Gross, I know, but he is a dog and a Beagle at that. Or, just as often, the rabbits out-smart him and he comes home exhausted, thirsty and determined that "they won't get away next time."

Riley has many friends in the neighborhood that he allows to come 'play'. Our neighbors to the South have 2 labs, Billy and Bo, they are allowed to come have playtime. However, the 3 labs across the road to the West are NEVER allowed to enter and if they even think about wanting to join the 'dog' games that are happening at our place, they are promptly run off. He's a snob that way. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that one of those unwanted labs killed one of our roosters last year and Riley NEVER forgets.

There is one thing we are sure of. Riley sees his main duty in life, besides ridding our property of rabbits and fending off chicken killers, as child protector and loyal friend. As soon as the kids go outside to play or better yet, to ride the 4-wheeler, Riley is by their side and will NOT leave until they re-enter the house. As soon as he sees them reaching into the closet for the helmets, he is jumping for joy and ready to go. We have seen that dog run at speeds we can't believe next to that 4-wheeler that is carrying our kids. He is always smart enough to stay close, but not too close, as he is aware that if he were to run in front of that machine and cause one of those kids to run him over - he would cause irreparable damage to their little hearts - something he would rather die than do. Even if they are just going out to the woods for a picnic or to build a fort, he never leaves their side. Unfortunately for him, this could mean that he might end up in a bonnet, or tied to a baby carriage (he is good at imitating a horse and sleigh) or even put in 'jail' with the bad guys - he doesn't care and actually seems proud to be wearing that goofy bonnet.

This is the routine of our dog, Riley, day-in and day-out. This might seem boring to some, but when it is observed day after day, it makes me want to believe in reincarnation and put in my request.

He is undoubtedly the best dog in the world. Little did he know that day that we went to the kennel, saw 16 of the cutest, long-eared puppies we had ever seen, spotted him and reached down and pulled him out of the crowd, that he would end up with the life he has.........but I think he's pretty happy with our decision.

And that's the Life of Riley.

5 comments:

Cece said...

I want to be Riley, too!

What a great story! Your property sounds heavenly.

Cece said...

I want to be Riley, too!

What a great story! Your property sounds heavenly.

Cece said...

I want to be Riley, too!

What a great story! Your property sounds heavenly.

Angie said...

Thank you, Cece. Someday, if I ever master this fucking computer, I will figure out how to post some pictures!

Funny, as we speak, the dog is sleeping in front of the fireplace and snoring loudly. Life is rough.

Cece said...

Holy cow! I couldn't (so I thought) reply for shit today! LOL