A year in the life of our Miss Riley

One Year


I can’t believe it’s been a year. In some ways, it feels like a long time ago, and in others, like yesterday. I miss you, my Riley puppy-girl. I miss booping your nose, watching you root in my garden and tear up wrapping paper in a frenzy, snuggling with you, laughing with you…just all the things that made you Princess Miss Riley.

Facebook and their On This Day feature is a mixed blessing. Every day, I’d get to see photos of Riley and Xander…but when they started showing me photos and status posts from when the dogs were in decline, I tried the option to hide certain dates. It worked for a while, then last night my “share this memory” reminded me that 4 years ago, Xander was diagnosed with cancer, and then the first thing I saw today was the last photo I ever took of Riley. It’s like Facebook wants me to be depressed! Still, having Riley show up in photos every day this year was nice, for the most part.

BTW, if you want to see Riley in action rooting through my lilies (a favorite activity of hers, though I never figured out why), click here. (I think this should work!)

1 Comment »

RIP, Bretagne

Bretagne, the last surviving S&R dog from 9/11, whom I posted about last year when BarkPost gave her an amazing day, has passed away.

I was bawling at my computer this morning when I read that members of the fire department with whom she had worked gave her an honor guard escort to the vet as their way of saying goodbye to this amazing canine hero.

Rest in peace, you wonderful old girl.


Bretagne, shown here at age 13, worked as a search dog at ground zero after the Sept. 11 attacks. She died Monday at 16, the last known surviving Sept. 11 search and rescue canine.

Charlotte Dumas/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Leave a comment »


We’re coming up on a very tough time of year for me. Three years ago on June 20th, we lost Xander. Riley’s one-year is coming up a month later, July 22nd. It only hurts when I think about them, but I miss them every day, and their loss is a hole in my heart.

I’ve customized my Facebook Memories to not show me anything from June 10th to August 31st. When the Memories first started popping up, they were a mostly nice surprise — a photo of Riley would pop up and I’d remember the circumstances surrounding taking the photo. But recently, it got into posts about Xander not eating, or Riley getting fussy about food. I relive these moments often enough without Facebook reminding me.

Today is World Pet Memorial Day, so I’ll remember them all.

Riley, my Princess Miss. Xander my protective bruiser. Penny, the cat who came to stay for a while. Daisy, my in-laws’ gorgeous Golden. Chase, my dad’s sweet greyhound. Percy, my first escape artist rat. Gryphon, Galileo, and Byron, the inquisitive but more introverted rats who followed. Kerwyn, the mouse who would keep me up at night running in his wheel. Darwin, the frog that came to me in college from a head of lettuce. Tommy & Tuppence, nun finches who cheered me with their songs and died way too soon. My seventh grade science teacher’s menagerie — Tootsie the ferret, who pooped in my desk; Toby the turtle, who also pooped in my desk; Chip and Dale the chipmunks; the tree frogs my mother almost killed the year I was allowed to bring them home over the holidays and had to leave them in her care for 2 days.  Mickey, the hamster who would eat the seeds from my watermelon. Teddy, my childhood poodle to whom my grandfather would sneak beer.

I am grateful to all of these creatures, who brought love and laughter into my life.

Leave a comment »

Send a Care Package to a Canine Soldier

Read about how you can support our dogs in the military!

Leave a comment »

Dog Watches Over Fallen Friend

Dog Who Watched Over Fallen Friend Going Home

This dog dragged the body of another dog, who had been hit by a car, off the road and stood guard over the body. Even when rescue workers came, the dog watched out the car window as the other dog’s body was taken in another vehicle. The guard dog’s family has been found, and he’ll be going home.

What an amazing and touching story.

Leave a comment »

Science Gives Us Nine Reasons to Have a Dog

Science Says Get a Dog!


1 Comment »

Because Everyone Needs This…

I definitely do — this made me smile.

1 Comment »

Help for Dogs with PTSD


Did you know that dogs can get post-traumatic stress disorder too? Think of all the service dogs who go into dangerous situations at the side of our soldiers. Thanks to one dog’s heart-wrenching (with a happy ending) tale, there is a movement taking hold to help our canine soldiers,

Full article from Woman’s Day

Leave a comment »

Three Months

Today is three months since Riley left us. I miss her every day.

Little things that I never considered have been coming up. As the song goes, there’s always something there to remind me.

There are the usual things, like coming home to an empty house, being alone on days I work from home, finding dog hair in odd nooks and crannies when cleaning, not taking her daily photo. But there are things I never thought about, so when they came up, they kind of knocked me sideways.

When the new season of Jeopardy! started, I had no canine nose to boop during the Final Jeopardy tune. Yes, I’m weird, I know that already.

I dug out a pair of jeans to wear when the weather first got cold and there was a dog slobber stain on them, missed in the wash.

I went looking in the utensil drawer for something and turned up all her empty pill envelopes (I thought we had gotten rid of them, but it was Xander’s we disposed of).

When I started doing yoga again, it felt weird that I could do it without being interrupted by a dog.

The deer are quite active in the yard, and it feels so odd to be able to watch them without Riley barking, and to walk around the yard without her. Without her presence on our property, skunks have gotten bold — while interesting to watch, it’s not a “neighbor” I want to encourage.

When I’m alone in the house while my husband goes on a trip, I have never felt so alone — not to mention that I haven’t tripped over her in the night, or hear her barking at the back door in the morning. I actually dug out a plush black Lab puppy that my husband gave me years ago, just so I wouldn’t feel so alone during the times he’s away. He misses her too — told me the other week that he misses being greeted at the door.

Yesterday, I started my annual re-read of Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff (seriously fun book — go read it!). Between pages 136 and 137 was a piece of Riley’s hair.

She was such a huge part of our lives, bigger than I ever realized while I had her. Miss you, baby girl.



Bretagne’s Amazing Day

Bretagne, the last surviving 9/11 S&R Dog, is honored with a special day

I picked up this dog’s story last year on 9/11. This year, NYC honored this 16-year-old (!!!!) S&R dog with a ton of amazing surprises and honors. The video had me in tears.

Leave a comment »


A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.


life with that sweet salt air



Big Dog in the Big Land

adventures with a newfoundland dog

The Adventures of Sawyer

Daily adventures of Sawyer, the Jack Russell Terrier

Sleepie Lemonpie

Thanks for lookin' in on me while I take lots of naps!

A Dog Called Storm

He's Storm. He's a dog. How difficult do you want to make it?

The Corner Blog

The Corner Blog

36 views of Black Mountain

Observing life through writing

Dogpaddling Through Life

A single woman of a certain age maneuvers the rapids of life with the help of her companion animals.


Adventures of a Maremma dog

The Dante Diaries

HER life from my point of view

Kira's Puppy Mill Journey

Kira, a rescued puppy mill collie, on her road to recovery.