Riley Jo, aka, Nibblet
I realized I haven’t done an update on the new pup in a while. As you may recall, someone dumped a 5-month-old AmStaff (pit bull) in my neighborhood at the end of January. After hanging around the neighbor’s house for a few days (we thought he was their dog), he come over to our place. We took him in, thinking it would be temporary, since we’re pretty full up in the animal department. But we grew attached to him quickly and when the pit bull rescue found an adoptive family for him in March, we told them, no thanks! We think we’ll keep him!
I’m so glad we did! I admit I was apprehensive at first, not knowing anything about pit bulls. But he’s turned into a real lover! Of course, he’s strong and he’s also a puppy, which means he’s still learning what he’s capable of. The past few months have been all about Riley learning self-control. There was an incident early on when Chaka started something over dinner she couldn’t finish, getting $350 in stitches for her trouble.
But Riley is 10 months old now and has grown into a real gem. We’ve been working with a trainer since day one, and Riley has learned self-discipline, while Chaka still struggles to control herself. He’s learned to listen to me, and when playtime gets a little too rough for my comfort and I tell him “that’s enough,” he turns around and walks away. He’s learned that stay means STAY — he’s not perfect on that one, but he’s getting it. He’ll sit and wait in front of his bowl of food until I say “okay” before diving in to eat. He’s learned to wait for “okay” before going through doors and gates.
One day back in May we had a tree-trimming crew out at the house. I kept the dogs in my office with me, as they were going nuts with all the tree trimming commotion. When I was sure they had left I let the dogs out. Chaka and Riley bolted down the stairs and around the side of the house and to my horror I heard men shouting — the tree trimmers were still there! Crap! And they’d probably left the back gate open! Double crap! I ran out there and I was right. Chaka had bolted through the open gate into the yard but not Riley. There he was, two feet from two strange men — one holding a long pruning hook — waiting for me to give him permission. He was wagging his tail and just itching to join Chaka in the yard and greet the strangers but he wouldn’t go through an open gate without Mom’s permission. I was so proud of him!
He plays well with everyone, and the doggie day care says he’s matured beautifully, obeying all the house rules. He goes there once a week. They tell me he barks for attention, a bad habit I’m sure he’s picked up from Chaka, whose barking has become a huge problem at our house. Riley doesn’t bark so much as … chirp. It’s the funniest thing to hear, but we don’t hear it too often at home. Mostly his favorite thing is to play chase around the wisteria with Chaka, and of course tug-of-war. The two of them get along famously, despite the incident with the stitches. They are best of buds. On days that Riley goes to day care, Chaka misses him terribly and the reunion is always fun to see.
Chaka, on the other hand, has been kicked out of doggie day care for aggressive behavior and being a bully. Last time we all went to the dog park she kept seeking out the submissive dogs and being an ass. We had to leave … not because of the pit bull, but because of the supposedly more docile mixed breed. Sheesh.
Riley: Master Sleeper
Riley is a master sleeper. He’s like the stereotypical kid who would sleep through nuclear warfare. It’s the funniest thing trying to roust him for evening potty and to go upstairs for the night. It’s like he’s saying, “Mooooom ….. five more minutes! Please?”
Again, I didn’t know much about pit bulls except what one hears — they’re aggressive, no they’re angels, no there’s something in their breeding and they’ll just “snap,” no any dog can be like that if they’re mistreated, blah blah. What the hell do I know, right? So we’ve just been really diligent with the training and the loving and the socializing. He’s just the cutest thing in the world, and I’m so glad we kept him!