The love of my life is nine years old!

March 18, 2016

The truth is that I forgot to post this on March 10, which is his official birthday. But in fact, he is now nine years old and at the end of May, that’s how long we will have been together, true loves in this lifetime and maybe others.

I love him more than I ever dreamed possible. He makes me laugh every single day and is a joy to have around. (Mostly.)  But tomorrow is an important day, too. In fact, he’s been in training for this more than a whole year.

Tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn we’ll all jump in the car and take a ride to Marin County.  Riley will take his very first Odor Recognition Test at Marin County’s Humane Society.  Well, actually, we both will. We’re a team.

Two lines of boxes will be in front of us but only one contains birch odor.  When I tell him “find it!” he will lead me to the box with birch and “alert me.”  I won’t know which box has odor; he must tell me.

Now here’s the rub. Sometimes his alerts are really just “stopping to look cute.”  They’re not really alerts, although we have been sharpening them up for a few months now in nose-work training class and in private sessions with Miss Pam, his trainer.


Aug. 2014. Riley’s first nose-work class. Easy boxes, easy hides. He’s come a long way! And so has our entire class, which has stuck together all that time. His classmate, Jet, will also be at tomorrow’s ORT. Good luck to Jet!

He does really well in class and usually does well in privates. But sometimes, he’s just not in the mood, like yesterday, when he just wasn’t himself. Also, sometimes I jump the gun. So I have to be careful to notice the difference between an alert and his adorableness. Or boredom.

I am a bit nervous.  Here’s a photo from yesterday’s home training:


He touched the box with his nose then looked up at me to get his treat. Do NOT comment on my pink Crocs, I only wear them around the house. They’re the most comfortable shoes ever.

Here’s the note I got from my girlfriend who has a cool dog:  Riley will do great in Marin … parents maybe not so much. 🙂

I’m not sure if we’ll go further in the sport except his weekly class, which he loves. But I did want to see what the whole sport was all about.

So–wish us luck!  If you’d like to see some absolutely adorable dog photos from his early days of training here they are!

Oh, and if you want an image of your dog similar to mine in the birthday message, let me know. This was done by an elementary school kid, the son of a reporter I know. He does them for fun and I promise  you, this one captures Riley’s essence. The young artist is very good.

24 comments on “The love of my life is nine years old!
  1. Puneet Kumar says:

    It is really wonderful Carol that you are busy in celebrating the birthday of Riley. Picture is really wonderful. Best of luck for the Odor Recognition Test.
    Reading your blog always give me a special pleasure. Thanks for writing such blog.

  2. Good luck to you and Riley tomorrow! May the sniffer be with you!

  3. Leanne says:

    I’ve never heard of nose work training – I wonder if Australia is just a bit behind you guys with all things doggy? Anyway, happy belated birthday to Riley and I hope he excels with his sniffing tomorrow xx

  4. Christina says:

    What is he training for???
    He is so adorable, Happy Birthday Riley!!

  5. Faye says:

    Aw, Happy Birthday to Riley!!

  6. Nancy says:

    It is so very wonderful that you have given him a job. Pets need jobs. They also enjoy the socialization of jobs in public. You are a very good mommy.

  7. Lori says:

    Happy birthday to Riley! I think that is so interesting that you are doing noise work with him. I’ve always wanted to try that with Louie. Good luck and let us know how you do!

  8. Wow! Your young artist is amazing! And I understand the love you have for Riley. My Chihuahua Carlo is as loved as any human child. Great post! Happy Birthday, Riley!

  9. I know what you mean about the love for your dog. We lost both of our dogs last year and haven’t gotten another, yet. It’s these kinds of stories that make me want to get another one. Have fun with the training!

  10. Happy birthday sweet Riley! And good luck to his parents. I’m sure he will do fine.

  11. andrea says:

    awwwww so precious – Happy 9th Birthday to sweet Riley – Mommy and Daddy love you!

  12. Megan Darda says:

    How cute and Happy birthday to that sweet face!! I have two of my own that are also the loves of my life! Hmmm you have me thinking about giving my boys more training..they would love it and it would keep their minds busier! Good luck tomorrow!

  13. Janie Emaus says:

    So what exactly is this sport? And yes, that young artist is fantastic.

  14. Bryce Warden says:

    Good luck – your fur baby is adorable.

  15. Carolann says:

    Happy Birthday Riley! You are such a handsome young pooch! You have the best mom and dad anyone can hope for! I wish you many more happy blissful years! xo

  16. I bet Riley enjoys this as much as you do… Sam is the love of my life. It sounds as though you have the same love affair with Riley as I do with Sam… who’s also 10. Two weeks ago I found out Sam has the beginning of kidney failure. We’re trying diet first… Right now, I can’t let myself go there… xoxoxo, Brenda

  17. Jonathan Key says:

    Happy birthday to Riley! Such a cute pup! Wishing you many more wonderful years to come.

  18. Liz Mays says:

    This is really interesting to read about the classes. I hope the test goes well!

  19. This is pretty cool! That is so funny about the crocs because I wear my husband’s around the house. They may be ugly, but they are so comfortable!

  20. Kathlenn says:

    That is a lovely story about your Riley, he is so lucky to have you to love him and take him to classes and he obviously gives back more than he takes.

  21. Happy Birthday Riley! Hope you have a great day celebrating your furry self!

  22. Happy Birthday Riley! Time sure flies when you are having fun with your pet! That’s wonderful that you have classes for him. Your relationship is really special!

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