10 Years of Riley



Rilee Louise Persephone Dibblee Wenninger Talladen. That is her true, full name. We’ll get into that soon enough. She turned ten years old today on June 28th, 2016. Sometimes I look at this girl and have a hard time remembering the early days of her and her brothers and sisters in a make shift pen. Half of my friends’ air conditioned garage taken over by her mother, Sweetie, and her ten puppies in a caged in area complete with newspaper, towels, and a kiddie pool – if I remember correctly. It was a space large enough for us to enter to play with the puppies and still have room for them to run around. Sweetie’s family, Tim, Amy, and Alex, had a scuba diving trip on their calendar very shortly after the puppies were born. In their absence, I was one of the many volunteers who stepped in to care for the dogs. She was the runt of the litter, finally delivered hours after the 9th pup was born, she came into this world after doubts she would make it, hence her initial name of “Survivor.”

At the time I was living in the same house as two other friends; Sue Dibblee and Deb Wenninger. We all had different names in mind for her – so many I forgot almost all of them. I remember one of the names I proposed was Midnight. Before all these names were thrown around, the puppies were all given a color. Blue, Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, Silver, White, and Yellow. Six weeks after the litter war born Alex named White Rilee. After adopting Riley, we had planned to rename her but ultimately chose not to since she had been responsive to Rilee from the start. And so the combination of our chosen names, last names, and first name became her full name and title. Rilee Louise Persephone Dibble Menninger Talladen. Wow that is long. Everyone just calls her Rilee, and somewhere along the line I just started spelling it Riley.

It’s been a wild ride over the past decade. Riley has experienced so much and has made so many friends in that time. Between being trained side by side with puppies on their way to become service dogs, to joining a frisbee league, to changing households, and going on road trips, this gal has had a hell of a life so far. And I say that in human years, so I can only imagine what goes through her head in dog years. Going through all these old photos feels absolutely crazy to me. I barely remember the days where she was small enough to fit inside my hands. After rapidly reaching her peak size, it became hard to physically notice her age. It wasn’t until she was maybe six or so that the white fur began to appear on her paws, muzzle, belly, and even her butt. And even with arthritis and lack of stamina, she still acts like a puppy – always wanting to play fetch and get her paws wet whenever she can. She’s definitely more stubborn in her old age, but ever loyal and loving. I keep her off-leash as much as possible, and on hikes that she is free, she runs or lags behind quite frequently, but doesn’t stay too far and always checks in on her pack.

If I am traveling and can’t bring her with, she generally stays at my moms with her basset hound-beagle mix, Henry. Whenever my sister visits for the holidays or when I visit her mountain home in North Carolina, Riley gets to play with her wolf-like dog, Yuma. And when Riley and I are out for a walk or at a dog park, she is constantly making new friends – human and dog alike. I always look forward to the next adventure, the next hike, the next house party, the next local shop that allows dogs inside. Whether it’s a road trip to the mountains, a weekend at the beach, or an evening at a brewery, any chance I get to bring her with me, she’s there. Here’s to many more birthdays with this precious loaf of Ryebread.

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Happy birthday, Riles. You are everything.

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