The Quarantine Puppy: Riley the Golden Retriever

a girl with a mask on with a dog

When we were first sent home from campus, I was admittedly pretty nervous to be living with my family again after not living together for longer than two weeks at a time for two years. 

With school still happening in the spring, my sister and I were sufficiently distracted enough to not think about the insanity happening around us. But as we thought about the long summer days stuck inside, we knew we had to do something. And so we re-hashed our old operation of “Convince Our Parents to Get a Dog.” Since we weren’t in middle school anymore, we were able to be a little bit more persuasive and after several group family discussions, we called a local breeder and were told we could have a puppy from the latest litter! 

After deliberating on a name for months, our cousin randomly texted us “what about Riley?” and the name stuck. She has never known a life when all of us are not home, and her constant happiness and love reminds me daily that there are still many good things happening in the world :). When I was going through my yearly career crisis (now thinking about law school for criminal justice reform...but still haven’t ruled out museum conservation) and couldn’t see myself with a future, I looked up from my screen and saw Riley barreling towards me to show her her new T-Rex stuffed toy. 

Now with online classes and clubs, I find myself on a Zoom call for nearly 10 hours every single day. And when I’m not, I’m doing problem sets or readings on an iPad. As much as I thought my late-night DS gaming when I was 10 years old prepared me for eye strain, these past two months have been another level. But having Riley forces me to step away from the screen and actually go outside so she can show off her new stick-catching skills. Her joy is infectious, and I get even happier when I send pictures to friends and see their smiles brighten for a second while looking at her fluffiness. 

So without further ado, here is Riley’s journey through quarantine!


puppy with name pink girl

Picture of Riley aka "Pink Girl" from the breeder! She was the only one that was already chomping on people's fingers before she left and was described as "confident" (aka ... very stubborn) to us.

puppy with a stuffed toy

Riley's first day home!! Taking a little snooze next to her stuffed animal  they were literally almost the same size once.

lady with a puppy

My mom and Riley! Riley was thwarted in her attempt to eat our food at the dinner table but took it like a champ and is still smiling :)

puppy in a field

My family moved to Cambridge last year, so Riley got to romp around MIT's campus! The Great Lawn was all to her and she enjoyed running around :) Can't wait until she's meeting some MIT students here soon!

puppy between shelves

Riley also really enjoys feeling safe when napping. Her favorite spot when she was a young pup was between these two shelves. Is this comfortable? I don't think so. But she still got some great naps in this position.

puppy with a mist fan

In our AC-less apartment, Riley deeply enjoyed our mist fan. She was a little uncertain if she should just enjoy the mist or try to chomp, but ultimately decided to lick the water instead.

a sitting puppy

I literally just included this one because it reminds me so much of Tina Fey's autobiography cover.

a family with a puppy

My quarantine birthday!! Riley did not enjoy being picked up, but our first family photo :)

dog with gloves on

We were just trying to prepare Riley for the cold Boston winter, but she wasn't a big fan of the gloves.

dog eating watermelon

Riley enjoying a watermelon, specially carved out to fit her head!

dog watching tv

We moved to a house with AC!! This allowed Riley much closer access to the TV to see another dog being trained in a YouTube video. Unfortunately, Riley cannot play rock paper scissors like pictured dog can, but we're working on it.

dog with a vest

Our singular attempt to turn Riley into Air Bud -- the jersey was a little big but I think she'll grow into it :)

dog on a chair

In an impressive move, Riley made this chair hers. No one else sits here now.

girl with a dog on a roof

Lazy day on our roof! She enjoyed a snooze while I desperately searched Stack Overflow to figure out how to code something for my UROP.

girl with mask on with a dog

A quick trip to Harvard! Pictured right before Riley grabbed my mask off of my face - I have repeatedly told her we are in a pandemic but she does not seem to care.

dog on a beach

Riley's first trip to the beach!! She had the time of her life digging as much sand as she could find, but was a little bit afraid of the waves. Excited for our next adventure :)