My boy and I are spending time together – just the two of us. Since Don has been taking Scout on a daily walk lately, Riley and I have been hanging out. If you don’t know Riley’s story, we rescued him when he was about 2 years old. He had been found on the streets of Patterson, NJ. Not long after we adopted him, we discovered he had heartworm. Thanks to my wonderful friends at the animal hospital where I was working part-time, he came through with flying colors.
Riley was neglected and abused before we found him. He didn’t know how to relate to humans. He was a little like a wild dog. But I could see a sweet disposition underneath all that. There are still things that scare him: reaching for his collar, coming at him from behind, touching his ears or his paws. If scared enough, he’ll bite. He’s come a long way, from a dog that couldn’t ask for attention to a boy who needs and wants attention. I can pet him now. I can lean down near his face and whisper to him, stroke him, and he is no longer scared.
Those eyes. They are the eyes of a gentle soul, who never deserved what happened to him as a young boy. We really don’t know his age but we estimate it to be around 10. We’ve had him for 8 years and what a gift he has been. There were times I was afraid of him; afraid he would bite me, afraid he would bite someone else. I truly believe he has come to me as a teacher and a guide. For he has taught me patience. He has taught me to love unconditionally. He is my very special boy.
He has a debilitating disease of the lower spine and pelvis that will eventually take him from us. Going on a walk is a tough thing for him. We must walk very slowly and he gets tired quickly. Scout, who just turned 13, is the youngest 13 year old dog I know and needs lots of exercise. So Riley and I hang out together. I give him some special treats and hug him and tell him that I love him and to please, please stay with us as long as he can.
My babies are aging. And I simply cannot bear the thought of losing them. They are my children. Not ‘like’ my children. They are my children. I love them with all my heart.
We’ve had several scares with Riley – times where we thought we were losing him. But he has nine lives, this survivor, and I’m so grateful he does. He walks like a very old dog. Toward the end of the day, he can no longer hold his hind quarters up. We lift him up and down the stairs to the den. He can no longer consistently control his bowels. Some days are good, others are no so good. He’s pretty stoic, but I can only imagine the pain he must be in.
I call him “Handsome.” Don calls him “Rye Bread.”
He’s a gift, a treasure, a teacher and an angel.