The Life of Riley

by Pat Wazny
(Traverse City, MIchigan, USA)

My Riley girl was my best buddy. I was there the day she was born and was the first to hold her. It was the best day - I knew that of the 4 puppies born in this litter, she had to be mine.

She was amazing. Winning the first place ribbon in her puppy classes was just the beginning. She knew so many tricks. Often she’d go through her entire repertoire if she thought a cookie may be at the end of it!

She slept behind the crook of my knees on most nights and I miss that so much. She was a beautiful girl with enough "sass" thrown in to make her perfect. She was what we termed a "hugal," a huskey/beagal mix.

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Her medical story: She was diagnosed with histolytic sarcoma, a very aggressive cancer, back in January, 2009. I took her down to MSU for further diagnosis and to see if had spread and it hadn't. I was told that it was localized (it looked like a little bump the size of a pencil eraser on her front leg just above her paw. It appeared to be encapsulated and was easily removed but because of where it was they couldn't get "clean margins" so I decided to give Riley Chemotherapy pills, once every 3 weeks or so.

She did extremely well, with the exception of an increase in her liver enzymes which we watched closely (our vet, Dr. Izo and I). She seemed to be healthy otherwise and acted much like a puppy on most days, prancing around with her favorite toy (of the month) and giving lots of kisses, even the week after the chemo. When time came for her next dose, she would run into the vet's wagging and looking for one of the girls to give her a cookie!

Her favorite tech was Chris and she was the one who drew her blood almost every time. I remember when she found out that we had to put Riley down, she couldn't keep her composure and I told her it was alright. Everyone had grown attached to her and even our vet said after she'd come to our house, she went home and cried!

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Anyway back to the healthy story and the good times.

Riley was her grandma's girl through and through. She loved her grandma and vice/versa so much. When we'd go to visit grandma and grandpa, Riley had a routine with my mom. Mom (oops I mean Grandma), would go take her shower in the morning and as she was putting her socks and shoes on, Riley would start dancing around and jumping up and down. She just knew a walk was ahead of her!

She was active up until the last 4 days of her life which were the hardest days of my life.

She looked up at me while curled up in bed one day like she was trying to tell me something...like mom, I'm tired and can't do this anymore (they say you'll know when it's time and it's true) I took her into the vet that Thursday to buy dog food and told the vet about the look and she said, "No, I think she's got a lot of life left in her...look at her running around..."

The very next day something happened and we were back at the vet that night. (By the way, Dr. Izo was off that entire weekend and attended to Riley each and every time I needed her.) Dr. Izo came in at 10 p.m. that Saturday and discovered that she was bleeding internally, and had a retinal hemorrhage. After a dose of morphine and said to me..."you know I'm just buying you a few more days." I started to cry and said, "I know."

Sunday came and she cried in pain. I held her and it calmed her down. I went to work that morning and my roommate came and laid with her. I think I was at work for 2 hours when the phone call came..."I think you need to come home." I got home in record time and called my mom. They were on their way. I called the vet and scheduled a time (she agreed to come to the house to put her down). Kate took so many pictures that morning and early afternoon of Riley and Riley and me. It was the best thing a friend could have done for me.

My Riley was suffering too much so the vet came earlier than planned.

Riley died that day, in my arms, on a beautiful fall day in our backyard in one of her favorite spots. It was so peaceful but I miss her soooooooo much. My Riley Girl...I miss you Boo Boo.

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Thank you Pat. I'm so glad I shared my own story, along with the Rainbow Bridge Poem, even though it was hard to do, because you have now shared yours with all of us. Bless you.

And I know Riley is waiting at Rainbow Bridge for you.

~Three Little Pittie’s Andrea

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