Matthews: And now, something for the quadrupeds

Feb. 26, 2013 @ 10:01 AM

I just saw Zy, the young man who lives across the street from us.  He was tiny when he moved in.  He was so little, when he learned to walk, he would stand upright and literally walk under our akita Steve’s belly.

No fooling.

Zy recently got a puppy. Frankie is a crossbreed.  He is half Chihuahua, and half rat terrier.  When he’s fully grown, he’ll probably weigh five pounds.

Our own dog, Riker, is an Anatolian shepherd.  A couple of years ago I wrote about our quest for a dog for our family.  I also talked about growing pains, and the trials and tribulations of raising a canine buddy roughly somewhere between the size of a Fiat and a school bus.

Puppyhood was challenging, to say the least.  Petey and I have decided that when other puppies get a little loopy, you can pick them up and carry them away.

Riker, not so much.  The poor guy goes through life like a Disney movie about a giant dog who can take out a parking lot with a sweep of his tail.

He has matured into quite a dog…or should I say dogs?

Because our furry friend is a contradiction covered in an enigma, all rolled up into a burrito.  It takes many different dogs to make up our nutty pooch.

There is Riker-roo, the clown that has puppy leftovers.  The kind of guy who’s biggest satisfaction comes in tracking down and eating renegade paper towels.  This is the dork who will stand fast when I tell him I’m coming to get him, but runs like the wind when I ask for a kiss.

Throw-rug Riker is a large blonde and black area carpet.  Normally quiet and peaceful, every 45 minutes the floor covering will weep piteously.  The owner will be required to get on the floor, scratch ears and assure said puppy that he is the greatest dog/rug ever.  In this mode, canine will also answer to “Town Crier”.

Another incarnation is a two-for-one.  There is Professor Riker, a haughty, Sherlock-Holmes-type investigator.  He will spend hours methodically scrutinizing anything new he encounters.

The other side of this coin is Agent Rike, a no-nonsense personal protection professional.  When he whips out those mirrored sunglasses, you know you’re safe from all.  Whether it’s Attila the Hun or the perfume sniper at Belk’s, he’s got your back, jack.

Rikeclopper is the obedient, gentle giant.  When the littlest children come into the yard to visit their buddy, my boy immediately lies down so the children aren’t frightened.  He has a tragically comic, unrequited crush on a collie named Chloe down the street.

Grandfather Riker is the dog who sleeps on his back with all four limbs flung akimbo, snoring loud enough to wake the dead — on TV!  

While out in the yard with my boy, a neighbor asked how I control him, because he’s so big.

I told her there’s no way to physically control him.  Riker and I have worked out a partnership; I’m the boss, and usually, he minds me.

Our nutty boy turned out to be a terrific dog.  He is the most loving dog I’ve ever owned.  And he’s creepy smart, too.

I like to cook special treats for everyone in my family.  And make no mistake, that 179-pound (yes, 179, not a typo) puppy is a member of the Matthews family.


Riker’s Cornucopia Biscuits

1/4 cups water (add more water later if required)

1/4 cup oil

2 eggs

3 tablespoons peanut butter

2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour

½ cup cornmeal

½ cup oats

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/3 cup cranberries


Blend wet ingredients together. Whisk dry ingredients together and mix into wet mixture to form a ball of dough. Roll out and shape. Put onto a non-stick cookie tray or lightly greased one. Cook 20 minutes at 400 F. Turn off oven and allow the biscuits to cool in oven until crisp and hard. Store in airtight container.



You never met a more upbeat canine in your life.  You could push him out of the way, and tell him that he has bad breath.  He’d keep grinning and his tail wouldn’t miss a beat, it’s a true perpetual motion machine.

He’s truly a good, happy dog.

When we get Chinese take-out, I break my cookie and always split it with my giant baby.  The fortune inside is for both of us.

Petey grabbed a bag of grub a couple of weeks ago at our local Asian joint, Kwik Wok.  We got out our cookie, and read the vanilla-scented wisdom.  I kept it, because I think it sums up my big old puppy pretty darn well: “Your smile makes everyone realize that the world is a lovely and beautiful place.”

Thanks for your time.

Debbie Matthews lives, writes and cooks in Durham. Her email address is