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.