5 Ways I Take Better Care of My Dog Than Myself


I’m a single 40-year-old woman living just outside of Los Angeles. My dog, Riggins, is my friend, protector, roommate, and baby boy. Although I like to say that my level of dog crazy is “normal,” all signs point to the fact that I’m slightly crazier than I like to admit. One of the ways this is obvious is how I take better care of Riggins than I do myself. Let me give you a few examples:

1. Medicine

Riggins, my healthy baby boy. (All photos by Wendy Newell)
Riggins, my healthy baby boy. (All photos by Wendy Newell)

If Riggins needs medicine, he gets it like clockwork. As a nine-year-old, he gets a joint supplement. We hike, so he needs a flea and tick treatment, emphasis on tick. I don’t want him to get heartworms, so he is on that medicine as well. Then there are the times that he has been on antibiotics or ear drops or some medicinal salve. Then, of course, there are the vaccines and boosters: rattlesnake, flu, Bordetella, and rabies, just to name a few. As soon as I get a little postcard from the vet telling me Riggins is due for a checkup, I make an appointment.

Me? I’ve missed my daily pills more than I care to admit to my doctor or mom. I still haven’t rescheduled my dental cleaning that was originally set for three months ago, not to mention my annual eye appointment that I was due for in August.

2. Emergency care

Riggins doesn't let a little thing like a body bandage stand in his way of dog-park fun.
Riggins doesn’t let a little thing like a body bandage stand in his way of dog-park fun.

Recently, Riggins and I were both victims of rambunctious pups and both sported puncture wounds from two separate incidences. We should have been examined by someone with much more medical training than I have. When I realized that Riggins was hurt — he has really thick black fur that hid the puncture and blood — I IMMEDIATELY put him in the back of the car and zoomed off to the fanciest dog emergency room in the area.

Me? It just seemed like a lot of work to head to an ER or urgent care center. Instead, I put some hydrogen peroxide on the wound and called it a day. I have the scar to prove I would have been smarter to go get a stitch or two.

3. Insurance and doctor’s offices

Riggins and me.
Riggins and me.

Riggins’ insurance is so much better than mine it’s laughable. Not to mention I know all of the vets at his doctor’s office, and everyone there knows him. We are greeted with, “Why is Riggins here today?” each time we come though the door. He is the Norm of Foothill Veterinary.

Me? My insurance changes so often I don’t even have a primary care physician at the moment.

4. Food

Riggins knows he has a tasty treat coming his way.
Riggins knows he has a tasty treat coming his way.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who heads off to the pet store to purchase a big ol’ bag of pricey dog food on a regular basis. You know the one that is rarely on sale when I need it to be and whose label I have analyzed in depth, making sure it has a fish-only protein and no grains. Riggins eats like a king!

Me? If it’s not on sale or generic, I have a hard time sticking it in my grocery cart, and I just consumed a pack of mini donuts that I’m sure includes a number of ingredients I am unable to pronounce.

5. Lounging comfort

Riggins slides into his place on the sofa and my lap.
Riggins slides into his place on the sofa and my lap.

If I’m watching TV and Riggins wants to come sit up on the sofa, I need to move to allow him his spot of choice. Sometimes this means scooting over so he can sit next to me with half his body on my lap (he is a big dog). Sometimes this means me physically getting up and moving to the other side of the sofa because he wants to sit in the warm spot I’ve made and put his head on the armrest.

The same is true for the human bed. In general, Riggins sleeps in his bed until the early morning. At that point, he wants to come up. If I’m on his side of the bed, he won’t budge. He will just sit there and stare at me like a creepy stalker. I have to get up, let the king take his place with his head on the pillow, and then I can get back in and find space around him to lie down.

"Just five more minutes," begs Riggins.
“Just five more minutes,” begs Riggins.

Last fourth of July, Riggins and I went to my sister’s house to be with her family. I slept in my young niece’s room. In the unfamiliar location, Riggins came in and joined me earlier than normal. My niece came in, too, and demanded that Riggins and she sleep together in bed, and told me that I would have to move to the foot of the bed if I wanted to remain in the room. Riggins looked at me as if to say, “You heard what she said. Slide down there.” So I did.

My niece and Riggins, BFFs.
My niece and Riggins, BFFs.

Some dog experts, specifically those whose brand depends on them being the pack leader and “whispering” to dogs, would be horrified at how spoiled my pup is. I don’t care! Riggins is my baby, and he deserves the very best that I can give him.

When Riggins was a puppy, I took him to obedience training. I knew the trainer and I would be the best of friends when he explained that he let his dog eat a steak now and then — cooked just for the pup. He says his dog has a short life compared to us humans, and he should have a treat now and then if he wants it!

Always my baby boy.
Always my baby boy.

I agree! Riggins means so much to me that it only seem fair he gets pampered, along with his own personal space on the sofa.

How do you treat your pup better than you? What does he get that you go without? Tell us in the comments.

Read more stories by Wendy Newell:

About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of “always be closing” to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy’s new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

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