Monday, September 12, 2011

(the life of) Riley

Riley (front) and Bama (rear). Summer 2010.
(*update* Riley went to sleep this afternoon (9.13.11) at the vet's with his favorite people cuddling him.)

So, it looks like I'll be putting my amazing dog Riley to sleep. I'm not sure if it will be today or tomorrow but it's completely inevitable as he's about 15 years old, and this weekend he pretty much stopped eating. He stopped eating and I started crying, non-stop, all damn weekend. Walking him and tearing up, crying louder in the shower, tears rolling down my fat blubbery cheeks when I scratch the top of his head. A full on sob-fest as I sat in the car by myself this morning waiting for alternate side parking to finish. I'm a huge salt-watery mess. This morning, after another teary walk my building's super saw me, looked at Riley and just hugged me. Then the cute doorman that flirts with me caught up with me at the bus stop, I guess the super had told him and he came over to hug me and to tell me how sorry he is and that he loved Riley too. Normally I'd have a second to mock him because his Red Sox are 3.5 games behind my Yankees but I didn't even realize that until now, about 4 and half hours later. For what's it's worth I was properly  embarrassed when (at the bus stop - no pride, no shame) a woman asked me if I'd lost someone on September 11th.

I don't really feel badly for Riley, Riley has had a GREAT life, one that he got two extra shots at. I adopted Riley as a 4-5 year old dog, from an animal clinic where they told me that Riley had been moved around several shelters to avoid being put to sleep. It's unfortunate but it's my understanding that 5 year old dogs are not in hot demand. So that was his first extra shot. Last September after enjoying a piece a boiled chicken Riley fell over and started convulsing. When he finally stopped having spasms I noticed his eyes kept rolling. His paws were tightly clenched. He'd had a stroke. I was beside myself. I cried all night certain that the next morning was going to be his last. He couldn't walk so I carried him into my bedroom, took the plaid blanket off my bed and laid it on the floor for him.

Before that night I don't think he'd ever slept in my room before. Not even the time I saw a mouse and dragged Riley's bed into my room hoping his presence would deter another sighting. Riley picked up a corner of his bed in his mouth and dragged it right back into the living room. A definitive creature of habit. After his stroke though, he slept at the foot of my bed every night on that plaid blanket.

The morning after his stroke I took him to the vet positive this was it. I sobbed on the way there stopping constantly to nuzzle his neck one last time and whisper my love for him into his deaf ears. Turned out the vet disagreed with me. He put Riley on Prednisone and some other stuff and Riley (and I) got an entire bonus year (his second shot). I really can't feel cheated, but I do. I really shouldn't feel this sad, after all, a whole entire bonus year, but I do. I want Riley to be my dog forever of course.

I'm sad, very sad and very selfishly, for me. Because I love Riley and very soon I'll be without him. And I'm sad for Bama, my boxer/pit mix who has never known a day without Riley and who doesn't have the ability to know what's happened. I'm sad that she'll be without her brother. Riley, my gorgeous sweet boy will simply take a nap as he does a thousand times a day, he won't be in pain, he won't miss us or feel alone, he won't ... anything. This should comfort me but instead it makes me do that thing where you gasp a little as you cry. I told the vet this morning on the phone; Riley has been an addition to my life every second he's been in it. He was always terrific with everyone that came into my apartment, I could let him roam at my parent's lake house and he never took off. In the city I walked him off the leash and he never strayed or made me worry. When my cousin brought her toddler over and her toddler repeatedly pulled herself up using Riley's lopsided ears he licked her. He's always been a wonderful, trustworthy, loyal dog and it would (further) kill me to think he's in pain, he deserves to die peacefully and comfortably with me hugging him. I don't want him to get to where he can't move and can't go out and can't tell who I am. That's not the ending a loving, wonderful and dignified dog has earned.

*and aren't I kind of an ass, I don't post forever and then this? Sorry, I had to.

What a good boy

Fun at the dog run 

I also had to stalk an online posting from when I adopted Riley 'lo those many years ago. It's below the jump.

From March 24, 2002
At 9pm last night I brought New Dog home.
I have a new puppy!!! He is a three (four? five?) year old setter-collie mix. He is 46 pounds of mush. He is obscenely friendly and seems to like nothing more than laying on the floor and being scratched. And scratched. And after that, maybe a little scratched!! He is black and white and brown and patchy and spotty. He is beyond delicious.
HERE IS THE RUNDOWN:I went to the ASPCA with Ethan and Fran yesterday and I played with a dog but he was totally wacky!! Hyper as fuck, seriously wild. He would have eaten my house. So I came home and started looking on the internet and expanded my search and saw a picture of a dog named McGee. His mini-bio made him seem truly beyong the perfect dog so I sent an email to the clinic where he was. Unlike most dogs, he was waiting at a veterinary center not a shelter. The director sent me an email back immediately saying that the dog was in hot demand but I could come over Sunday to see him if I wanted. But there were two couples already interested and he may be adopted. She said she'd call Sunday and tell me what was going on. Sure enough she called today and told me to come over so I dropped everything and ran over to 83rd St. on the West Side. As soon as I got there they went to get the dog andhe came down the steps and the second I saw him I knew. He looked like my dog from childhood. He was so sweet and shy. Then the women there just shoved a leash at me, some dog treats and poop bags and told me I could take him wherever I wanted. I should just be back by 7pm. It was 5:30. So, off we went. He was a prince on the leash. We went to the park and found a dog run so I sent him in and took off his leash so he could socialize and run with the other dogs. Aside from trying to mount only the biggest fucking dog in the run he seemed to be real chill with all the other dogs. Then the big dog that New Dog kept trying to mount tried to mount me!!! It kept jumping all over me and it wouldn't go away and it was really freaking me out and suddenly New Dog lunged between us!!! But not meanly, simply as a buffer. He didn't bark, or growl or bare his teeth or anything. He was just there. It was adorable. The sweetest thing!! I melted!! We stayed at the dog run for 45 minutes or so and walked around the park and the Upper West Side for a while and got back to the clinic at about 7:30. Weirder yet, when we got back the director started to ask me a zillion questions and then this other lady shows up and says "I walk him everday, I know him. Let me talk to her!!" And who is this lady?? Bernadette Peters!! How cool! She is so beautiful and she was so cute and friendly!! It was great! She tells me she adores New Dog, walks him everyday, etc. I had the picture of Willy- the dog that looks just like New Dog and I show them all and they couldn't believe the similarities. We all agree; it's kismet. I fill out a ton of paperwork, become best friends with the clinic staff, give them a donation (they asked for $75 but I so love the dog and they were so nice I gave them $100 and I'm broke as shit!!) and I called Ethan and he drove in to the city from New Jersey and picked New Dog and I up and brought us back here and hung out with us. And it is unanimous. New Dog rocks and we love him. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We brought New Dog home at about 9pm. That is why I am ditching you today dear Joe. I cannot adopt the dog and then leave it totally alone, in my home, (with my leather!!! couch) less than 24 hours later. Please swear to me you are not mad? Will you come over after work today and meet New Dog?
I loved the hell out of that furball the moment I met him. What a great dog.

I love you Riley, always and ever, even with my broken heart <3

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