Last week, my daughter Laurie’s elderly friend, companion, and loved one passed on. The family is mourning his passing and celebrating his life. I apologize for the switch in topic this week. I just wanted to remember my “grandson” in my blog.
Riley was a one-of-a-kind personality–I remember the first time I met him. My daughter was living in a basement suite at the time. I entered the apartment, triggering the charge of this big black dog straight at me. I stepped back involuntarily. Although I am not normally afraid of dogs, Riley, even as a puppy, was enormous, and he startled me. My daughter, embroiled in the throes of training a strong-minded (read “stubborn”) dog, stepped forward and admonished Riley to get down.
By this time, Riley had jumped up on me, propelling me backwards even further. Expecting my imminent demise, I pushed at him to get down. He retaliated by swiping my cheek with a wet, sloppy, big-dog kiss. I laughed, making sure to keep my mouth shut while doing so.
My daughter rolled her eyes and sighed. She had been struggling with this puppy for a whole week and was becoming resigned to the thought of an ongoing battle of wills.
It took a couple of years, obedience training, and lots (and lots) of walks to tire him out, to finally convince Riley that Laurie was the alpha being in his world. Through it all, he remained enthusiastic and good-natured…and stubborn. And he more than fulfilled his duty as guard dog and protector of my daughter, living alone in a big city.
As the years rolled by, he remained her staunch protector while still enjoying life to the fullest. However, he didn’t care for the summer field trips Laurie made in her business as a botanical/biological consultant. She was often away for a couple of weeks at a time but remained committed to his well-being and hired a dog/house sitter for those times. Every time she came home, the two of them celebrated with long leisurely walks throughout the day and contented snuggling on the couch, while Laurie watched TV and Riley dognapped in the evening.
Riley mellowed as he aged, enjoyed his relationships with dog neighbours and his own three family cats. Although he still stood up for his rights, he was also more willing to compromise.
And now, at the ripe old age of 16, he has left this plane. I have no doubt he went directly to the Rainbow Bridge to wait for Laurie in the next life. In the meantime, Riley is undoubtedly busy making friends with all the other pets waiting for their pet parents to join them in crossing the Bridge together.
Riley’s friend and family companion in his latter years is his “step-sister” Cooper. She misses Riley bitterly and needs a longer mourning period to say goodbye to him in her heart.
My daughter has done her grieving and is reworking her world to adapt to life after Riley. Cooper is a great comfort to her, and they are helping each other cope.
Farewell, Riley. Thanks for being such a great boy!
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