The boss in our family

Early every morning about 4 a.m. our little dachshund “Sir” Riley starts his “I need to go out, right now!” bit. He sleeps all night with my son Doug at the other end of the house. However, he comes clear across to my bedroom in order to wake me up.

It’s then the real fun begins. When I get up and open the back door, which is closer to Doug’s room than mine, Riley returns to Doug’s bedroom and goes back to sleep. Since I’m already up, I get a cup of coffee and watch the early morning news. Perhaps this is Riley’s way to check up on this 93 year-old to see if I’m still connected to this world? Guess I should be flattered?

A little bit later Riley’s sister Molly, who sleeps with me most of the time, gets up. Then, the whole process starts all over. When Riley sees that Molly is going out to “do her business” he follows her outside. After she’s done, Riley makes sure to put down his own mark on the exact spot where Molly placed hers. I think it’s something in Riley’s DNA. He must be the boss in the house.

Riley has managed to make sure Doug shares in the fun times. Whenever Riley wants to play with his toys, he barks three times, as if saying, “play with me.” If Doug ignores him, Riley adds a fourth bark to say “now, can’t you see I’m waiting?”

No outside for Riley. He makes Doug toss toys from one end of the house to another.

For the first two or so times, Riley does the fetching.

When Riley gets bored doing this himself, he insists that Doug do the fetching. He’ll bark until Doug follows his orders, and I do mean, “bark!” You can hear Riley outside of our house, which has dual-pane windows, half an acre away at the street.

No one has ever been able to explain to Riley that he’s a small dog, and supposed to have a small voice. Riley’s merely expressing who’s the real boss.

Riley arrived in our home a few months after we got Molly. It was just after we’d loss our Yorkie brothers, Benji and Charli. Benji had terminal cancer. Doug said taking him to the vet’s office for the last time was one of the hardest things he’d ever done. Doug held Benji in his arms and sang to him,“ You are my sunshine my only sunshine” as he drove Benji to the vets.

Just after we’d lost Benji, Doug and I had to go to town. When we returned, poor Charli was sitting on the couch with a forlorn look on his face. Doug and I both lost sleep that night, and as a result we decided Charli needed a playmate. So we got Molly. She was so tiny, and Charli didn’t know what to make of her, but how his tail did waggle.

Then, only a few months later, Charlie developed an inoperable problem, and he too went to join his brother Benji. We didn’t wait long, not wanting Molly to be alone as Charli had been, and so we got our new “boss” Riley to take command of the house. As I look back on my life, I wonder how I ever lived without a pet in the house?

Most often, my boys had a dog. However, during my growing up period my parents didn’t allow an animal in our house. I wonder now, if was the fact it was during the Great Depression, and they were worried about the cost to feed and take care of another mouth? Finding our first pet for my five sons was a revelation to me. It taught me about the unconditional love an animal can bring.

The first dachshund I had was my sweet little Trinket, acquired by a friend at work. Trinket was found wandering in a parking lot in Fresno, Calif. on an over 100-degree day. When she wasn’t claimed we were able to adopt her. That little girl now had her own bed, a little wicker basket. While camping in the cold of Yosemite, Trinket was able to cuddle between my husband Van and I to keep warm.

T’s difficult to understand how some people can’t relate to the unconditional love that a pet willingly offers. Even one like our noisy, bossy Riley. I think we’ll keep him and his wonderful sister Molly anyway!

Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment