Riky the dog goes by a variety of names like Riky-Tiky or Rikle-Tickle-Pickle. He seems to be a black rotweiller-labrador-shepherd cross. This story lends itself best to his identity of being the Rikster.
When we went to get him from the shelter, every dog was trying to get through the gate in their enclosure. It is sad to see the hope in each one's eyes, knowing that all but one will be disappointed. However, Riky was different, though not indifferent. He simply lay quietly at the front of his space, on his side with his head on the floor, just watching us. There was no jumping, no barking nothing that even hinted at "take me now!". Nor did he look sad or forlorn. He simply seemed to be willing to let things come as they will. Well it worked. This equanimity seemed to attract my son, Kyron, to him right away and off he went with us.
He was a very good-natured, 8 month old fellow who had apparently been found wandering on a highway by the vet who had her office in our area. She had taken him to the SPCA and was pleasantly surprised when we eventually brought him in to be neutered. Riky seemed to be delighted going with the receptionist who took him into a waiting room for the vet to check him out. She explained it would be a simple procedure and he'd be ready to leave that afternoon.
When we went to pick him up later that day, he had lost his bounce and energy because he was still recovering from the anaesthetic. He almost had to be helped into the car and then out of the car and then into the house. Complicating matters was the protective neck collar to stop him from going after his stitches. He slept most of that day, all through the night and was still sluggish the next morning.
However, during the day he seemed to regain his alertness and with it, the awareness that something was bothering him down below. Now that neck collar is supposed to stop him from probing the sutured area, but it seems the vet staff hadn't quite calculated on Riky's flexibility for he was easily able to reach where he should not.
So off came the collar and we tried to reason with him. This process amounted to all of us watching him closely for any effort to move towards the stitching. When from a semi-laying position the hindleg lifted up and the head moved down, we knew that licking and nibbling of the forbidden area was inevitable. The shouts of "No Riky!"and "Stop Riky!" resounded from all corners of the room. Riky initially seemed puzzled by these outbursts - after all, he was only trying to relieve an area that was causing him minor discomfort - but seemed to also enjoy the attention. The problem of course was that it wasn't possible to watch him continuously, so he knew all he had to do was bide his time and, especially at night, he could get away with his crime.
During the day, he was usually caught which soon led to his deployment of a fascinating strategy. He knew just when we would react and what for, and so followed this sequence. He looked down at his goal. Then he'd look to see if anyone was watching. If the coast seemed pretty clear, the head would move lower and simultaneously the hindleg would move upwards producing an unobstructed path. Slowly ... slowly ... almost there ... "No Riky!" ... ooops. The hindleg immediately moved to the lowered head and proceeded to scratch it vigorously, while the face took on a look of innocent bewilderment.
"I am only scratching my head. What's the big deal? Why is everyone getting after me for that?"
Riky realized that this technique paid big dividends. After all, if he was caught, the head scratching exonerated him and if he wasn't, well that's just the shortcoming of the police force. We have to admit that we were unable to find a way to match his resourcefulness.
Despite his antics, Riky's stitches healed quickly (he is, after all, a strict vegetarian dog), and that resourcefulness has stayed thoughout the years. He enjoyed playing with us, but was also quite happy to play on his own if we were busy. I recall many times, watching him chasing his own tail with unbounded joy at 3am in the morning (when he had to be let out to relieve himself in the middle of the night). He didn't chase cars. He never tried to run away. He never went anywhere he wasn't told to. He would not only stay right with us during walks, if some members separated from the main group, he would run back and forth herding everyone together. He could get very excited, but managed to calm down whenever it became necessary. His athletic abilities were quite outstanding and he'd leave all other dogs (except one little whippet who he couldn't quite catch) at the dogpark, gasping during play.
He was for quite a while the perfect dog.
Yes he was, that is until Jumpr came along ... but that is another story.
[editor's note: this is taken from our towards freedom site blooks. riky has been strict vegetarian for more than a decade (in line with this group's theme that "animals are our friends ..."). if you want to find out about more about riky or veg dogs, just ask. jumpr's story will be coming sometime in the future, assuming we can get around to writing about that menace!]