Riley held his chin up and looked away in objection. He knew what was happening—we were getting a new puppy. For five years he was our only dog, and my husband, John, and I had spoiled him a little. OK, maybe a lot. We’d resisted getting a second dog but ultimately decided Riley needed a pal. Besides, cute little Kona seemed perfect—calm, well-behaved and super sweet. Surely Riley would come to love her.
But Kona tricked us! Oh, she was sweet, alright. But she was also a little monster. An alien, almost. Her entrance to our home was like the scene from Lilo and Stitch where Stitch destroys Lilo’s house. Kona wasted no time, jumping from one piece of furniture to the next, tearing Riley’s toys apart and soiling the carpet. Then she brought out her bark—amazing, high-pitched and non-stop.
Riley opted to retire to the basement that night.
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For months, Kona’s sweet brown eyes looked to Riley for approval, but Riley was cold. He sulked and avoided Kona at all costs. That meant planning separate training sessions and separate activities for them in separate rooms of the house.
Then one evening I’ll never forget, I let the dogs out before bed. Riley barked at Kona and nipped the back of her legs. Kona looked shocked and took off into the woods with Riley in hot pursuit.
“Oh, no,” I thought. “He’s chasing her away!” Was Riley ever going to accept Kona?
But when they returned minutes later, their tongues were long and their grins were wide. What happened in the woods that evening, I’ll never know. But it happened again the next night. And the night after that.
Riley and Kona had started a ritual. Riley was softening.
Before long, though, there was a new problem. Kona howled and cried when I took Riley paddling. Riley barked wildly when he saw me grab my shoes to get ready for a run with Kona. They were boycotting their separate activities, and so we’ve been a pack of three ever since.
Over the years, I’ve watched the love between Riley and Kona grow. When Riley sees me getting Kona ready for a loop around the block, he hops off the couch, ready to join us, nub wagging. When Kona gets amped over a squirrel in the yard, Riley has her back. Matter of fact, Riley never chased squirrels before Kona came into his life. Her energy is keeping him young and active.
They chase and play every day now, and I love seeing them snuggle together in the back of the Subaru after long hikes. We ride on my paddleboard as a trio and share the couch at the end of the day. And all is well.
Sometimes it isn’t love at first sight. Sometimes it’s love at first chase.
Maria Christina Schultz is the author of “How to SUP With Your Pup.” Check out more adventures with Riley and Kona on Instragram.