Here’s Your Winner!

Riggs has a natural caregiving talent

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Raymond Solgonick’s dog, Riggs, is more than a family pet.

Riggs—who is 50% mini poodle, and 50% Pomeranian, Cocker Spaniel, Pekingese and Terrier mix—takes care of the family, including Solgonick’s father, Mike, who has Alzheimer’s disease.

“He’s amazing,” Solgonick says proudly about Riggs. “He really watches my dad, too. He’s really attentive with my dad and makes sure he’s fine.

“When my dad’s phlebotomist comes to the house, he’s right there and he knows. He just clings to make sure he’s OK. Or if he’s sleeping in bed, he’ll usually be there.”

Riggs, whom the family adopted in December 2015, is the winner of 85086 Magazine’s Cutest Pet Contest for 2019. The dog loves his tricks—and his treats, which go hand in hand. Solgonick gives Riggs treats from Bonnie’s Barkery in Cave Creek.

“I only like natural things for him,” he says. “He salivates for his treats.”

Riggs came into the family’s lives in December 2015, when he was 6 months old. Ideally, Solgonick was seeking a mini golden doodle. He found a breeder online, where he saw adorable photographs of golden doodles and mini golden doodles. He emailed the breeder saying he was looking for a mini male golden doodle.

The breeder said she had one, but it turns out it was a scam that was heavily covered by Valley TV stations.

“My mom knew right away,” he says about Vivian. “I said, ‘You’re such a Debbie Downer.’ She just had a bad vibe. I ended up paying cash for him. I had to up my limit on my ATM card.”

When the family realized the breeder was a fraud, they didn’t want to give up Riggs. Now, Solgonick isn’t the only one in love with Riggs. The dog has become a sort of neighborhood mascot, with the support of Solgonick’s customers and co-workers at Wells Fargo. A personal banker, Solgonick encouraged them to vote for Riggs.

“Everybody talks about Riggs—even my coworkers,” he says. “When we go on walks, everyone says hi.”

Riggs is so smart, Solgonick says, he needs to spell words like “walk” or “treat” so the pup doesn’t get his hopes high. When hears those two magic words, Riggs jumps around. Otherwise, he’s pretty “chill.”

“When someone arrives at the house, he gets super excited,” he says. “He’s just a lover.”

His family is equally as infatuated. Vivian steams organic chicken for Riggs, while Solgonick gives him probiotics because the pooch has a sensitive stomach.

“He’s so sweet,” Solgonick says. “He really is. We take him to restaurants—restaurants with dog patios—and they’re so impressed with how good he is.

“He has a personality. He spins in circles if I say ‘walk’ or ‘wanna go out?’ He’s so funny and he’s with us 98% of the time. We take him to pet-friendly hotels, even.”

Riggs doesn’t just take care of Vivian and Mike. He is a lover to extended family as well. When Solgonick’s grandmother had a stroke and stayed in a rehabilitation center, Riggs visited as well.

“We took Riggs and we were able to take him into the facility every time and they were so great,” Vivian says. “They loved when he got on the bed with my mom. He’s just a great part of the family.”

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