A year in the life of our Miss Riley

Riley’s (Almost) Year

on August 2, 2015

This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. I’m not entirely sure I’m ready to write it, but since today IS the year mark of Riley’s Year, it seems fitting. Even if I do fall apart again after writing it.

Our Riley left us on July 22nd. For a few days before that, she refused all food but boiled chicken (and once, a fortune cookie…of course). That morning, I went to work while my husband stayed home with Riley and the contractors, but around 9.30, he phoned me, letting me know I should get myself home as soon as I could — Riley had vomited blood. Bless my coworker who is also my neighbor — she drove me home so I wouldn’t have to wait an extra hour for the train. As I had done on Xander’s last day, I sang Riley “her” song — “Sweet Baby James” by James Taylor. That afternoon, we took Riley to the vet and he helped her cross over with no pain. It was peaceful, just like everyone said it would be. We know we did the right thing.

But it hurts so much all the same. My heart broke into a million pieces that day.

These past days have been mired in grief. Every day, I’d sit down, thinking I could write this post, and every day, I’d get back up again, too emotional to do so. Even now, I can barely see the screen for the tears.

We cleaned up the various open cans and containers of dog food, set aside the others to donate to a shelter. My husband washed all the “floor quilts” — but one, a small one he set aside unwashed because it still smells like her (something I’m so grateful for, since the day she died I was so stuffed up from crying that I couldn’t smell her). Her collar is on the mantel, next to the case that holds Xander’s collar and favorite ball. Yesterday, we picked up her ashes from the vet’s. It surprised me how heavy they are.

The day after she died, I woke in a panic and rushed downstairs, sure that I heard her panting and needing to go out. Later that same day, my keys jingled in my pocket, and I turned, thinking it was the tags on her collar. The day after that, without my glasses on when I woke, I saw a shadow at the top of the stairs, and I thought it was her in her favorite sentry position — it was boxes of materials for the bathroom. Two days after that, I saw my black purse (again, without my glasses) and thought it was her. Last night, I took my inaugural bubble bath in my new bathroom, and there was one of her hairs on the edge of the tub. Reminders everywhere, and maybe someday it won’t hurt as much to see them.

Several people have suggested we get another dog. Someday, I’m sure we will, but for now, it’s just too soon. One day, I’ll be ready for another dog, and it won’t mean that I’m replacing or have forgotten Riley…or Xander. They will live forever in my heart.

I’m so glad I started this blog. Even if Riley didn’t get her full year — and I had no idea she wouldn’t when I started it — I now have so many more photos of her, so many memories that I will cherish forever. Thank you all for letting me share my special girl with you.


The stars are not wanted now, put out every one
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

(Princess Miss) Riley the Valiant, 8/2/2000-7/22-2015


12 responses to “Riley’s (Almost) Year

  1. Sue Wood says:

    Sigh. I left you a message on Facebook but had to add a confession here. Clicked on the photo, it filled the whole screen and I kissed her.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. paws2smile says:

    I am so, so sorry to read/hear this. It feels my heart with sadness even though I’ve never met her. But I feel like I have thanks to your posts of her. Thank you for sharing her last (almost) year with you. Thinking of you & everyone that was a part of Riley’s life…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John Michel says:

    A great, irreplaceable friend. How wonderful that you had her as an essential essence in your life and that her presence will never truly leave. The kind of presence that is always just there for you that is real and that you close your eyes to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jeanne Cameron says:

    Thank you for sharing Riley with us for the last (almost) year. I too feel like I got to know her over the months and was hoping and praying that the lack of posts the last few days was not for this very reason. She touched my heart and made me laugh with her beautiful face and funny antics.

    I went through the same thing with my 16 year old Lab/Sheppard, Keisha 4 years back and it’s hard, really hard, but you know in your heart that you did the right thing for her. The reminders get easier to bear as time passes and eventually you will smile instead of cry when you see or hear or do something associated with her. It took me weeks to stop reaching for the leash as soon as I came home from work to walk her, and 3 months to stop cutting off bits of my steak to put aside for a treat for her.

    Only you will know when you are ready to get another dog. Everyone heals in their own time frame. And of course you would never be replacing either Riley or Xander because dogs teach us that our hearts are big enough that we never run out of space to love.

    Thinking of you and your husband, and all the rest of Riley’s “pack” who are missing her.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We at Little Dogs Laughed are so sorry to hear about Riley and thank you so much for sharing her life with us-Riley was clearly a much loved and cherished companion-how lucky for all of you to have each other-we are thinking of you all and I know Riley will always be with you through your images and in your heart-

    Liked by 1 person

  6. repoleon says:

    Thank you so much for sharing Riley with us. I looked forward to seeing her pictures everyday. Yours is one of the few blogs I have delivered to my email. I’m so sorry for your loss. I know that deep heart ache and I feel sad for you. May beautiful Riley rest in peace. Hugs and love to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So sorry for your loss – he was very loved and will be with you always. Hope you can find some peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Me says:

    Oh, I am so sorry to hear this. I’ve been checking your blog regularly because I noted you hadn’t posted in a while…

    I am in tears reading this post. I don’t know what to say.

    Treat yourselves kindly and know you are fantastic owners, and Riley was so lucky to be loved so much.


    Liked by 1 person

  9. noofmitchell says:

    Your post really struck a chord with me. Our almost 18 year old cat passed the Monday before we brought Bailey home. Like you, I thought I could hear her in the house. I still can’t bring myself to use the sofa blanket that she slept on. Grief takes time to process but, you will know when the time is right to open your heart and home to another furry being.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Natalie Davis says:

    I am so, so sorry for the loss of your Riley!! Thank you for sharing her last (almost) year. I will be thinking and praying for you and your husband.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Please accept my belated sympathies on the loss of your beloved Riley! I enjoyed her photos very much, as she looked a lot like my black lab mix, ‘Baby’. He will be 11 on October 4th. Thanks for sharing Riley with us!

    Liked by 1 person

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