Life With Riley

<B>Steve Hartman</B> On The Trials Of Raising A Doggie Teenager

This week's commentary is by 60 Minutes Wednesday Columnist Steve Hartman.
About a year ago, I introduced you to my dog, Riley.

I adopted Riley because she touched my heart. But I considered un-adopting her when she broke my skin – repeatedly. Today, I'm happy to report, her biting problem is vastly improved.

But now, she's got a new issue. Now that she's become a doggie teenager, she has completely stopped listening to me.

We live on a farm, and she and I will be walking side by side, the way guys and dogs do in the country, when all of a sudden, there she goes – deep into the woods where she either can't hear me, or more likely, won't hear me.

I mentioned this to my neighbor, James Davis, who scared me like there was no tomorrow for Riley. "We got everything here. We got bobcats, we got bear, coyote," says Davis.

Oh, that's nice.

Like any parent of any teenager, I was torn. Do you give your kids the freedom they yearn for and hope they stay out of trouble? Or do you lock them inside and teach them to use kitty litter?

Fortunately, before deciding the fate of my wandering teen, I was able to do something most parents only wish they could do to their kid – mount a camera on her head.

With the help of a professional video surveillance team, we piled a mound of high-tech spy equipment alongside my gravel drive. If Riley ran away now, I would have a dog's ear view.

I don't know why, but I was expecting the worst. I thought for sure I'd see her teasing a bear and eating poison plants. Instead, what my dog does when she's not with me is absolutely wonderful. She races up hills and down hills, jumps over some trees and chews out others.

But mostly she just sits.

If I didn't know better, I'd say she seems to appreciate the solitude. Eventually, the kid comes home. And I must say I now feel much better about her growing independence.

She's a good dog – not the best dog, but a good dog.

But don't push it, Riley. You're still not getting the car keys.