Rest in Peace, Riley

I wish I could have written this post earlier, but the hectic nature of the holiday season really prohibited me from getting much blogging in.  I started this post a week and a half ago, but didn't have pictures, so I wanted to wait.  Anyway..... 

Last Monday, my childhood pet went to doggie heaven.

He was old - probably 20 years based on our best estimate.  A mere 8 years younger than myself.

No one knows the true origins of Riley, but he first entered our family when my sister met him at a fraternity house at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  Whether it's true or not, my dad likes to joke that he grew up on french fries and beer.  My sister rescued him, but - as is the case with many college rental houses - she was not allowed to have pets.  Within a few weeks, she was caught with the dog and called my parents, begging them to take the dog.  I'm not sure exactly what transpired, but one day, there was a small brown dog at our house.

Personal photo

My sister and I, being somewhere around ages 9 and 11, naturally fell in love with this very ugle mutt.  He was still a puppy, and his ears were originally flopped down, but within a few weeks one popped up, followed soon by the other.  If you thought he was ugly before, you should have seen him now.  He was scrawny, with a tiny head and the biggest ears you can imagine standing straight up on his head. 

Riley and I in our younger years

But he was quickly our dog, and became an integral part of our family.  We took him on walks.  Surrounded him by stuffed animals to take pictures.  We dressed him up in Cabbage Patch doll clothes.  We loved when he slept with his stuck out for so long that it was dried and crispy - we would wake him up by touching it.

We grew up with Riley, and years after my sister and I both moved out of the house, he was still there.  A long time ago - so long ago that I don't know exactly when - he started losing his vision.  His teeth and his vision soon followed.  For years, he was this blind, deaf dog.  But he just kept moving.  He would walk in circles around our house.  Perhaps that's what kept him alive for so long. 

About a year or so ago he really started losing a lot of weight.  He was nearly all fur and bones.  But still, he kept moving.  It was only until really recently that things went downhill, and yesterday afternoon my parents decided that it was time for him to sleep. 

When my mom called me to tell me, I wasn't really surprised.  After all, I had mentally prepared myself for that moment over 5 years ago.  And in fact, I knew that it was for the best.  His quality of life wasn't so great anymore, and I knew that he had lived a long, loved, amazing life. 

But I could tell that she was choked up. And all of a sudden a big old tear dropped down my face.  My throat tightened but I kept talking, and shortly after got off the phone.  I tried to tell myself that all of the things that I had just told my mom, but it didn't help.  I arrived home a few minutes later and Dave was downstairs.  I still couldn't swallow and knew that I wouldn't be able to talk without being sad, so I blurted it out and the tears came again.

"I don't know why I'm crying!" I exclaimed to him, wiping my eyes. "I knew this moment would come years ago.  I thought I was prepared for it." 

Dave just gave me a hug - there wasn't really anything that he could say anyway.

Writing a blog post doesn't seem like much of a memorial for a pet that was such a big part of my life for so long.  But it's all that I can do to remember him. 

We'll miss you Riley.  I hope you loved your life and us as much as we loved you.


Ms2Mrs said...

So sorry for your loss! Let me know if you need anything.

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