Dear Riley,

You probably don’t know this but I fell in love with you when I saw your picture on Petfinder almost 9 years ago. Your Dad would tell you that I broke the speed limit many times during that 3 hour drive on that fateful Saturday to meet your foster Mom and adopt you from that Petco adoption drive. He had to drive home so I could spend the ride back watching you in the back seat, as you were the most adorable 10 pound puppy with Lincoln logs for legs that I’d ever seen. I was smitten by you!

Who could have imagined how much you would change my life? We went to puppy classes, where we learned together and we spent hours after work, walking, playing and going to dog parks!  I met neighbors that I’d never known in the 10 years that I’d live in our home – somehow you brought out their true nature–“oh, how adorable? How old is he? Can I pet him?”–in everyone, and in the process, we are on a first name basis with many of our neighbors now who greet the both of us by name or wave from their yard work as we walk by. Even though we walk many of the same paths each day, you’ve shown me through the seasons–through your eyes–that they are always changing and always different, worthy of a stop or a sniff or a greeting. I see and experience many simple joys that were lost on me before, because of you.
Eight years later, on the day before my birthday, we got the results back from the ultrasound and needle biopsy that told us you have terminal cancer. I cried so hard that night and you tried so hard to comfort me, licking my face and trying to burrow under my arms, into my lap – anything to make me stop. World’s worst birthday. Ever. We were told that you had anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months to live and that operating wasn’t really an option since the cancer had spread through the lymph nodes to your lungs, it was only a matter of time.
I went through our photo album of all the places we’ve gone together the past eight years and made a list of your favorites, and every weekend since that diagnosis, we’ve made a point of re-visiting many of those places, traveling far & wide – taking lots of pictures and savoring the moments.
It’s been six months now since the diagnosis – and yes, in your usual style, you defied that vet who said “3 months on the outside.” You’re walking slower and sleeping more, but you are still enjoying your life, eating, playing and car rides, thanks to a variety of medications that keep you pain free. In my worst nightmares, I experience life without you and wake up crying, only to find you next to my bedside, licking my hands or face – I know you’re telling me many things about life and changes to come and in your usual  way, comforting and cheering me, when it should be I, who is doing that for you.
Riley, I don’t know what I’ll do without you and I can’t think about that now – I just have to stay positive and live each day out loud with you.
Just know that I love you more than anyone could imagine and that I will be with you as you draw your last breath (I will not abandon you, nor will I let you suffer), to see you to the bridge. I want your face to be the first one that I see, when I pass over.
Love you baby!


  1. Dear Colleen, my heart goes out to you, Riley is adorable, I am so happy you have each other … :-)

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