Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Good Friend - A Sad Day

Riley Chilling at the Cottage
 Today was a tough day, and this may be a tough blog to read. For the last 13 years I have shared my life with my dog Riley. I have to thank my friend Jane for this. She played on the football team I coached, and one game said that she had rescued this dog but because she lived in an apartment really couldn't keep him.

It seemed that this young dog had been a Christmas present to a child, but after a few months the child had got bored and no one paid any attention to this dog. She said they were keeping him in his cage almost all day long, and that they were going to just let it loose and not let it back in.

I already had an older German Sheppard at the time and really wasn't sure I wanted another dog. Jane was unrelenting and asked me to just see him and try him over the weekend. As you can guess, from the moment I met him, I fell in love and of course took him into my home and my life.
Princess Riley
 My Sheppard was a great dog also but was more my dog then the families dog. Riley, however was truly the families dog.

The first few years were pretty fun as Riley loved to escape and roam free and each day I would be out trying to find him and catch him. I had a fenced in yard but no matter, Riley, doing his best Houdini impression would find some way to escape and run around. He was not trying to get away, but really just loved to meet people and walk down the street with all.

Most time he would find a place to crawl under the fence and each time I would go into the backyard and pound down another post trying to keep him in for his own safety. I remember the one time he got away, and I was amazed because I was sure I had closed off all escape routes. After I got him back I found that last spot that he escaped from and proceeded to pound down the fence to close it off. As I did so I let him know, while he stood behind watching me, that I finally had closed off all escape routes. After pounding down the last fence post I turned triumphantly to let him know I had won, only to see nothing. Yes, he had escaped again while I had my back turned. I could only laugh. And of course at the cottage, he loved to find his way to the road so he could visit the other cottagers. He had such a gentle and friendly disposition, and a strong need to make friends with everyone. My neighbors would laugh every day as they heard me yelling his name while I walked the cottage road looking for what neighbor my dog decided to hang with on that particular day.

Riley loved to hang at the cottage where he had to be on every boat ride, sitting at the front with the wind in his hair. We spent many years doing agility training. He was good at it but usually half way through each class he decided that he had enough exercise and would then lie down to watch the other dogs. I could coax him all day but he was done and just invited me to sit and watch .
Our Last Moments

A few weeks back, Riley became very lethargic and I knew something was wrong. He had already had problems with his legs as is normal with a lot of dogs his age, but this was different. He had no appetite and no energy. I took him to my vet and we saw that he had a virus. Thank god, I thought as the anti-bio tics worked after a few days and he perked up.

Unfortunately a few days later the lethargy returned. No longer was he at my back door a thousand times a night wanting to go outside. And no longer was he at my back door a few minutes later wanting to come back in. Nor was he sitting in front of me, panting, and asking for a cookie. No, now he would just lie quietly on the floor and gaze into nothing.

Instead of bounding and jumping while I prepared his dinner, instead he lay there and so I sat beside him feeding him by hand. He no longer had the energy to chomp through his milk bones, so instead I sat and broke them up and fed them to him little by little. We went back to the vet for tests, and his vitals had gotten worse and x-rays showed a mass in his stomach. This time no pills nor love would nurse him back to health. Riley my good friend over the last 14 years had come to his time.

Today at noon I took my beloved pet to the vet and held him while he was put down. I choked back the tears, even though I knew he had a good life and was loved all through it. I left and by the time I got home I sobbed uncontrollably. The house seemed so empty.

My dog Riley passed away and may he find a new place to romp. He was a great dog, and I loved him greatly. He will be missed.

I am writing this with a heavy heart. It is the cycle of life, and it was the best decision to save him from any future pain. But it is still hard. And I know it will be a while until the vision of him lying quietly on the table leaves my head.

I love you Riley and thank you for all the joy and happiness and laughs that you brought to my life.


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