Courageous Riley

It was almost 6 years ago that we rescued Riley from a puppy mill in Nebraska. I named her Riley because its Irish meaning is “courageous” and, at the time of her rescue, courage was badly needed for her to overcome the past abuse. She was terrified and emotionally shut down, barely able to move. She instantly stole our hearts.

We took Riley home to foster her, but deep down inside Dan and I both knew we could never let her go. With time, patience, guidance, and lots of love, Riley learned to trust us and she blossomed into a joyful little dog who delighted in all the wondrous things around her. Watching her transformation has truly been one of the most amazing and rewarding things we’ve ever done, and she has been such an important part of our family.

Yesterday, we were told that Riley has a large cancerous mass in her small intestine and also in an adjoining lymph node. Sadly, it’s aggressive and spreading. Surgery is not an option and, at her age, we won’t put her through chemotherapy, which would offer her only a weak chance and would not allow her to enjoy whatever time she has left. Riley is currently on prednisone and also an appetite stimulant.

So … TODAY RILEY IS AT HER “HAPPY PLACE” at our cabin. She loves it here! When she first arrives, she always spins and spins with excitement (something she does no place else). We’re doing all we can to encourage Riley to eat, and she’s trying her best. She is not in pain, though she’s becoming more and more lethargic. She’s happy and wags her tail and cuddles with her sisters. We’re holding her close and giving her all the love we can. It seems that Riley might have up to 2 or 3 weeks left before we have to make the decision, but most important is that the rest of her days will be good ones … and we’re fortunate to have control of that. We’re grateful to Dr. Meredith Sherrill (internal medicine) and the staff at VCA Veterinary Specialists of Northern Colorado, for their love and caring support. Dr. Sherrill is truly amazing, she’s been an angel to our dogs over the years.

We know our sweet Riley is living courageously in the moment and doesn’t really know what’s happening to her, so we will shower her with love and wonderful memories in the time we have left. Our hearts are breaking but we, too, will find the courage we need in the days ahead to make them joyful ones for her.

Love, Rudi and Dan

PS: This photo of Riley was taken just this morning.


  1. Hugs and love, our thought and prays are with you . Spend as much time as you can with RILEY , glad she is not in pain.❤💜💙

  2. We came home Thursday night to find our Happy (late teens, maybe 20) “basking in the sun”. He must have passed doing one of his favorite things. He was our last dog.


  3. My heart is breaking for all of you. Please know that Riley was truly blessed to have you adopt her —- you have given her an amazing home filled with so much love. Bless you all.

  4. Rudi and Dan, I am so sorry to hear about Riley. It seems the puppy mill dogs always have such sad endings but thankfully Riley has had a wonderful life with you. She could not be in better hands right now and I know in the end that Harley and Fernando will be there to welcome her at the Rainbow Bridge. Love, strength, and prays for Riley, and also for you Rudi and Dan. Oh

  5. My heart breaks again for you guys. We have lose 3 seniors in the last 8 months and we have several more seniors we to are giving all our love to. You guys are my angels and my encouragement to keep rescuing dogs, expecially the weak and damaged one. You guys are always in my thoughts and prayers. Please give Riley and extra hug and kisses from me.
    Jo Ellen Rice
    Proverbs 12:10 Rescue
    Nashville TN

  6. ..sending so much love to precious RILEY…
    and both of you..
    and all who love her..♥♥

    My angel MAGGIE died in my arms
    this past Monday morning..

    ..after the death of my beloved husband in 2014..
    and my Rosie dog 32 days later..
    and now my darling Maggie (both rescued)..
    I am completely alone for the first time
    in my 73 years..
    and it hurts beyond words.. so hoping I will heal enough
    to let another rescue me..
    my empathy
    and love is yours..♥♥

  7. Awwwwww!! I love Riley! Glad to know her last week’s will be with the people and furry siblings who live her SO much. 💖💛💜

  8. Hugs and prayers for everyone. She’s with those she loves and who love her.

  9. I am so sorry. Thank God for bringing you into her life and thank you for rescuing Riley, teaching her what love is all about and giving her a wonderful life. I realize that knowing the end is near for her does not make it easier to let her go when the time comes but hopefully knowing how much you did for her and good memories will help.

  10. Thank you, Rudy and Dan for rescuing and taking such good care of Riley. I will keep you all in my prayers.

  11. Love to Riley & her caregivers

    Glad she’s knowing true love finally.

    Thank you.


  12. I knew when I saw the post on facebook that we were soon to lose another valiant puppy mill survivor. I shed tears for joy for the life and love that Riley has found.

  13. I am so very sorry. She is with her family and She knows she is love. When the time comes She will be with Harley and he will escort her to the Bridge.

    God bless.❤️❤️🐶

    Sent from my iPhone


  14. My heart bleeds for you. Three weeks ago I had to make the decision for my darling little dog. I am still hurting so much. My love and prayers for you all. xxx

  15. Praying for Riley and both of you. I have lost 2 babies to cancer so I know what you are going thru.

    The hardest goodbye but the memories of the times together are worth it.

    I am so glad Riley found a forever family with you until she was called home to Heaven. One day you will be reunited with her and Haley. In the meantime they will have each other.

  16. Riley lived a long time given her condition. You have made the right decision and I know she will be happy with it. She will enjoy all her days and gets lots of live. This is what counts.

  17. I’m so sad to here the news, so glad she has a great family to care for her. Enjoy every minute with sweet Riley. Hugs and Love

  18. Prayers for you to help cope with Riley’s health issues. She knows of your love for her. Thank you for giving Riley a lot of love.💕💕💕

  19. We are so sorry. She is a doll treasure every second with her. Glad she is st her happy place. Harley is watching over her and guiding Riley thru all this. Love and prayers

  20. Oh Dear I am so Sorry to hear Riley is so sick.. You gave her the best life and her time with you was like winning the Dog lottery for her, I’m pretty sure of it.. I lost my almost 15 year old Whippet a few weeks go and it’s sure been quiet.. I’m happy to have the Chisters to keep me busy.. . Take Care Rudi and Dan

  21. Another Rescued puppy mill survivor life cut too short. The best thing to happen to a dog is to have a good life with a loving family!! Some will say their lives would never have been complete without their loyal, loved, faithful dogs!! So sorry that Riley has to go thru this!! She is lucky enough to have had very loving,caring parents show her all humans aren’t bad!! Not all dogs get that gift in their lives!! Bless you Riley as your Journey in this World will eventually soon come to its end. 😥💔 Dan & Rudi thank you for sharing your life with Riley!! ❤️❤️❤️

  22. Riley is truly courageous and she’s a happy dog ever since she was rescued for fostered but failed and heartwarmingly adopted from Nebraska’s puppy mills to her permanent loving home in Colorado with her wonderful and loving family.
    I have had only one opportunity to meet Riley at last year’s Hops and Harley in 2017. She’s the sweetest and bravest little girl just like her brother, Harley.
    This life… this life with her family, she’s truly blessed and loved beyond measure. Riley, your courage and timeless beauty, your playfulness and loving characters with a heart of gold
    gives everyone hope and faith that
    Life is wonderful when you live it to the fullest❤️❤️❤️🐶

  23. Riley, you are a beautiful girl. I’m so very sorry that you are so sick. Love you and praying for you. I know your mama and daddy love you and will know when it’s your time to join Harley and Fernando.

  24. God bless our little Riley. OMG I feel so bad. Please give her a kiss from me.I am glad you rescued her and gave her several years of happiness and still are. My 14 y/o rescued Molly had a GIST tumor on her caecum, survived surgery 3/2018 and so far doing great. Fortunately, it hadn’t metastasized.

  25. My loving thoughts and prayers are with you and Riley at this difficult time.
    I remember getting my Hammer’s diagnosis of metastasized cancer . My heart aches for you and Riley, but I know you’ll make her last days comfortable and happy. Bless you for having found her when you did. You’ll always have beautiful memories of your time together. And thank you for sharing all of your pups ( the good and the bad) with us.Hugs to you and Riley and all of her siblings.❤️

  26. Oh sweet Riley, it hurts to know you are sick. Rudi and Dan my heart goes out to you. Thank you for adopting Riley and loving and caring for him so much. Riley has been through enough truma from the puppy mill and should not have this. Sending prayers for comfort to Riley and you.

  27. I’m so sorry! Riley is In the perfect place to end her journey. You and Dan do so much good and I’m sure it isn’t easy for you. Riley has received the love she deserved to have for so many years. Thank you for all you do

  28. I am so very sorry for what you and little Riley are going through. Riley has had such a great life in your family, she was finally given the love and care she always deserved. Prayers for you and sweet Riley. God Bless.

  29. She never would have been to experience any love if not for both of you and all your family. Thank you for giving Riley and all the animals you rescue love.

  30. Every day is a blessing. Riley is in her happy place when she with you and Dan. God bless your sweet little girl.

  31. Riley, you are a BEAUTIFUL FIGHTER and SURVIVOR! You found your way out of an awful situation to be rescued by human Angels. Live life to the fullest, you deserve every day to be Happy and Loved! Prayers and Thoughts. God is with you now and forever!

  32. To Dan & Rudi, I am so sorry to read the very sad news about Riley. I’m so pleased you have taken her to your Cabin where she is at her happiest. You have both given her such a wonderful life, if it were not for you she would never have known such love or the chance to have a happy loving home. I think both of you are wonderful people, such an inspiration to so many and saviours to those little ones that get so cruelly treated and locked away. I live in the UK, thank god we don’t have those wicked ‘puppy mills’ here… the name makes me shudder and to read how badly those poor babies have to suffer in them. I hope you continue your tremendous work to educate people and they all get closed down. I’m sure we have something similar here in the UK though, but animal lovers like us must fight for justice for ill treated animals locked away.
    You have made so many little lives happy and fulfilled.
    Thank goodness Riley was rescued and lived with you both. You will have your memories, please be strong over the next few weeks. Give Riley lots of kisses from all of us that follow you and your fur babies. I love Riley, at least she doesn’t realise what is happening and while she is still well enjoy your precious time together.
    I’m sorry if I have rambled on too much, but the tears fall as I write and I feel I need to write what I feel. That is a great deal of emotion and love for you all at Harley’s Dream. X God bless you all and sweet Riley. XX

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