A year in the life of our Miss Riley


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.

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2 Years

Today, it’s 2 years since we lost Xander. In some ways it feels like a million years ago; in others, only yesterday. All I know is I still miss him.

Xander, August 2012, doing his best to get my attention by being adorable

Xander, August 2012, doing his best to get my attention by being adorable


Throwback Thursday: Napping Puppy

Speaking of napping, here’s Xander — one of the first photos we took of him after we brought him home.


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Throwback Thursday: An Historic Photo

This is the first ever photo we took of Riley and Xander together:


And probably the closest they ever sat since.

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Throwback Thursday: Xander

Came across one of my favorite photos of Xander, taken in March of 2013. His chair.


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Throwback Thursday: Christmas 2005

Riley (front) was five. Xander was one. Both were very into Nylabones.


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Throwback Thursday: I Dream of Xander

In the past week, I’ve dreamt of Xander twice. I don’t really remember the dreams, other than the fact that they were surreal. But look at this face; is it any wonder he lives on in my subconscious?

Xander, August 2012, doing his best to get my attention by being adorable

Xander, August 2012, doing his best to get my attention by being adorable

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Reminders & Reassurances

These days, little things remind me that Princess Miss Riley is in her dotage. Does she really not hear me or is she being stubborn? She needs the light to see — are her eyes that bad? Look, more white hair. She walked into the other room and is breathing like she ran a marathon.

What hit me today is she had some gait issues. Three times today on our ramble around the yard, she stumbled. Now, our yard isn’t even by any means, but it’s still something she’s never done before, and there was no discernible reason for her fall — no holes or rocks or anything that I could find. Then, back at the house I was grooming something off of her that she clearly didn’t like me doing, and she backed away from me — and promptly landed on her butt. I was almost afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to get her up again. But she prevailed.

This evening I got my reassurance that all is still good in Riley’s world. She loves her food, and when it’s time to “feed the puppy” she makes an energetic fuss the likes of a three-year-old dog. Xander was like this too. Picture Snoopy’s famous “suppertime dance” and multiply that by a million and you have our dogs’ reaction to food. As my husband always says to me, “It’s amazing that we feed them the same thing every day, twice a day, yet every time they act like it’s the best thing ever. If you or I had our ‘favorite’ meal every day for the rest of our lives, we wouldn’t be like this.”

When Xander got sick, it was only in the last month we really lost hope, because he no longer ate, or greeted a treat with any kind of enthusiasm. So Riley stumbled today, but tonight, she did the freakin’ dance of joy over her food. All is good¬†in my world now too.

Miss Riley digs into her food, glorious food

Miss Riley digs into her food, glorious food

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Throwback Thursday: Pool Party

In 2012, we went on a road trip to south Florida, where my SIL and her husband live with their miniature Schnauzers (up to five now, but in 2012, they had two). The long hard drive (my husband drove 97% of the way; I hate highway driving and he’s a saint for putting up with me) was worth it for how Riley and Xander took to the pool:

Xander takes to the water like a fish

Xander takes to the water like a fish

Riley ventures into the deep end

Riley ventures into the deep end

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Throwback Thursday: The Angel with the Devil

My personal favorite puppy photo of Xander. More appropriate to title this entry “the devil with the devil” — that sweet face was a front for some serious mischief-making throughout his entire life!


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