by Sara Young
I don't need another dog I told Buck, my friend who was trying to convince me otherwise. His dad had passed and his dog, a big white lab named Riley needed a new home. He was living in his dad's shop in the city. I had 15 acres, all invisible fenced and three other dogs. Ok well I will bring him out to visit and you can see if he fits in, Buck said. Ok. Well when I saw him pull in my drive with that big dog in the front seat with him I already knew. I walked out of the barn and knelt down Riley got down out of the truck he ran right into my arms. That was the beginning of a 8 yr. love that I will never ever forget. Riley was so calm and loving. With the big brown "soul" eyes that you could see just knew the secrets of the world. I got him certified as a Therapy dog. He passed all the tests with no training. We visited the Children's Hospital once a month as well as a local nursing home for 6 years. He lit up whoever he was around and was so loving and gentle. Especially with the kids. For those few minutes the kids forgot they had cancer, or broken bones, or illness. All they needed was love from my big white dog. He got into bed with them, laying quietly as they stroked his soft fur. His big tail wagging non stop. Riley used to wag his tail in his sleep, he was so happy. Last year he developed some health problems and after taking him to a specialist she told me he had dcm. Dilated cardiomyopathy. That was this past August. His big heart was his blessing and his curse. She gave us 4-6 mos. I could not believe it. I could not imagine losing him. I could not breathe. I said God please let me have him til his birthday (Feb. 14). He died in my arms on March 1, 2016. He had a really bad night of seizures. Not at all the peaceful way I was told he would go. He held on all night until my friends got here to be with me. He waited until I left the room to have his final seizure and I made it back to him just in time to hold him. All night I told him what a good boy he was and how much I loved him. Although those 9 years were filled with love. The last 6 mos. of his life we went on walks thru the woods every day. I am not working so I got to spend all day with him. He got trips in the car, and ice cream and yogurt his fave every single day. He gave so much love and touched so many lives with his therapy work. Everywhere I took him people commented about what a beautiful soul he was. I will grieve my big boy until the day I die and we meet again. My other rescue babies are here for me. But Riley was that once in a lifetime soul that was just a part of me. My heart will always have a huge hole that can never be the same. I love you so much Boo. Until we meet again. Oh and two months after Buck gave Riley to me, sadly Buck passed away at the age of 45 from an unknown illness. It was fate that brought us together. My next lab will be named Buck. How can I possibly thank him for what he gave me? Everyone thinks they have the best dog. And we are all right. As a memory to him I decided to sponsor a therapy dog at the Children's Hospital where we volunteered. She sent me a list of dog photos to choose one. OF course I chose the big yellow lab. I got his card a few days later. His named is Jackson and amazingly, he too was born on Feb. 14. Pretty cool. Love you so much boo boo take care of all my other babies until we meete again. On another note, the same day Riley died, my cat Leo threw a clot and I had to put him down that night. Leo must have wanted to cross the bridge with Riley for some reason. Losing two in one day was unreal. I miss them both so much. Thanks for letting me share my story. My friend says we don't get to keep them long so we can save another one. I still have cats and dogs but my Riley was one in a lifetime.