Goodbye, Old Boy

We lost our dog this morning. He’d been sick off and on for a few weeks, and we tried all sorts of treatments. This morning, his breathing became labored and I called the vet’s emergency line. She met me at the office for a chest x-ray that revealed severe blastomycosis.

We discussed the options, or lack of them, really, and I knew what we had to do.


Riley, you joined our family when our family was just fresh. You were born the summer Chad and I married, and the second I saw you I knew you had to be ours.

You were all fluff and waggy tail, with a poof of hair that stood up from your head. I’d never had a dog before, but it didn’t take long for me to become a dog person once I met you.


Weren’t those first years a delight, My Boy? Camping, kayaking, fishing, sniffing around the trails at hunting camp – you were all in.


You were with us as we established ourselves, and with us in three different houses in three different cities. You sniffed the heads of our babies when we brought them home from the hospital, and were unfailingly patient with them as they learned to crawl (which meant tail pulling) and walk (which meant tripping all over you.)



I remember the time on Iron Street when I went upstairs to get some laundry as Baby Gray slept in his bassinet on the main floor. Just then, my dad stopped by the house, and before you realized it was your favorite person on the front porch, you barked in a way I didn’t know you could bark. I knew what you were saying, Riley. . .

Someone is here, but I’ll protect the baby until you get back.

You loved those boys. You especially loved them when their peanut butter toast hit the floor.

They dished out all sorts of torture, but you took it, happy for the attention.


And happy they loved you too.



But long before you loved them, you loved me. I was your master. Your girl. The one you wanted to be close to. The one who was forever nudged by your nose when I sat down on the floor, chair, or even the toilet. You were an opportunist that way.

When I was teaching, I’d come home from a tough day and sit on the kitchen floor petting you and scratching your chin. You’d gaze up with a look that said no matter how many ninth graders were mad at me, you still thought I was better than bacon bagels and cooler than morning snow up your nostrils.


Didn’t we have fun, Riley? I’d sing that made-up circus-y song and you’d jump to your hind legs and dance with me.

Remember how Chad and I would point the red laser light around the kitchen floor and up the wall, and you’d go bonkers? Or how we’d call for you at the same time, one of us holding a Beggin’ Strip, one a peanut butter biscuit, placing bets on who you’d run to first?

Thanks for always choosing me, Riley.



The sun was near this afternoon — snow turning slushy in the boulevards. Soon your footprints will be melted from our yard.


The red dirt road will be a mess again, but you won’t be here to traipse your slop and mud into the house, stopping on the rug for me to towel off your legs, lifting each foot on command. Paw. Paw.

You won’t be here to steal my couch pillow for your afternoon nap.


You won’t be here this summer to entertain us – to make us giggle as we watch your wobbly backside disappear into the brush after a rabbit.


You won’t be splashing in the lake and river, or trying to sneak a drink from the hose as I water my vegetables, then inevitably choking and slobbering all over the place when the spray hits your throat.  You won’t be beside the campfire, sniffing around for dropped marshmallows, all of us shouting at you as you wave your tail above the open flame.

You were the best kind of clown, Riley — the kind everyone wants to have around.


I think I’ll miss you most on my walks and jogs — when I remember the way your ears perked up as I jingled the leash in the kitchen. How we took turns dragging each other along.


The way you’d be two steps ahead of me, then turn back, touch your nose to my hand, and look up at me with those brown thank-you eyes.

That was our time.

As our family grew bigger and I had less time for you, we both cherished those quiet miles from our respective ends of the leash.


I didn’t want to lose you this morning, Riley, but I didn’t want you to suffer either. When I sat with you on the floor by the patio door and told you my favorite moments of our years, we both knew I was offering a blessing of sorts — or at the very least, a consent.

At the clinic, before the vet had even gathered the materials for euthanasia, you let out a labored cry, lifted your head, and looked up at me for the last time. I was so glad to be there with you, Old Boy — to stroke your back and whisper in your ear as your breathing grew quiet, I love you, Buddy. Thank you for being such a friend. Thank you for being such a friend.



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50 thoughts on “Goodbye, Old Boy

  1. So sad to hear of Riley’s passing. I know how much you all loved him. You will miss him. He was the best dog I was ever around. Glad he knew the love of your family.


  2. Aww. Riley looks like such sweet, good dog. It’s so hard to say goodbye to them. Especially after so much change after so many years. Makes us wish they lived longer. Big hugs to everyone…


    1. Yes, it’s hard to say goodbye when they’ve been part of the family for many years. I’m still not done crying a week later! Thanks for reading and for the kind comment, Eric.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Stacy, add this piece to your “best” blog file. It brought tears to my eyes, as I am sure it did to many of your readers. Wish pets would have human lives, instead of “dog or cat” lives. They leave us with such painful sorrow and grief when they pass. Thinking of you and your family and praying for peace in your minds, hearts and souls.


    1. Yes, if only they could be with us for a lifetime! They give us so much in their lifetimes, though, don’t they? We were blessed by our sweet Riley. Thank you for the kind thoughts and prayers.


  4. What a beautiful tribute to your best buddie! So sorry for your loss, I hope you can take comfort in the wonderful memories and in knowing that you gave him the best life he could have as a member of your family!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Christy. I’ve looked at a lot of photos this week of our fun times with Riley. We had many adventures and snuggles that made for a good life, indeed.


  5. Your words caused me to remember and pay a silent tribute to all the four footed friends that have walked with me to this point in my life. Your words were comforting and invoked a deep sense of calm reverence. May you find the same comfort your provided to me. Thanks…. My friend Marsha just put down her cat Max… 20 years old…. I am sure she too will find comfort in your tribute to Riley. Big hug to you…..


    1. Those four-footed friends are special, aren’t they? Grateful for the love they give and the many ways they bless our families. Thank you for relating to my heart and leaving such a sweet comment!


      1. Yes they are special and through the years there were always a four footed friend or two around to share a special hug with! It is wonderful to have them as part of your life and sad when they depart.


  6. Awe, sweetheart. I am holding you all close. What joy you had with Riley and I share in your sorrow. I believe love shared with a pet is one of the most precious.


  7. Stace. I cried all afternoon with you. I am glad that I was able to say goodbye to Riley Doodle. I loved him so much. He was my first Grandson. I am also glad that I was there with you and the boys. Much love. Uppa


  8. So sorry for your loss, but so happy for the wonderful times you had together! It’s obvious you gave him the perfect doggy life, and he is probably bragging to all the others in doggy heaven about his wonderful family!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So sorry Stacie, it must of been hard to write this , I have lost dogs too and it is so hard , he was so cute and such a faithful member of your family. I had tears reading this .my love and sympathy goes out to you and your family. Blessings from GOD!!!!!
    Dorie Marie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, he was so faithful, Dorie. Even when the kids came along and stole the attention, he patiently waited for whatever love was available! Thank you for relating to my sadness and leaving such a sweet comment.


  10. Your tribute to Riley is lovely. So sorry for your loss; my prayers are with you as you struggle to fine a new normal. I hurt for you because I lost my beloved beagle June 2014 and the adjustment has been slow and difficult. I wrote my tribute to him here:
    Peace be with you as you grieve.


    1. Oh, Aileen. Thank you for sharing about your sweet Charlie. I so relate to the awful car ride to the vet’s office, and wishing for more time with a special friend. I know I’ll grieve for Riley for a long time — but at the same time giving thanks for his gentle nature and faithful love. Blessings, Stacy


      1. Thanks for reading Stacy. It is a back and forth dance of thanksgiving and grief, isn’t it? But always I know I am a better me for having loved my Charlie, as are you, no doubt for having loved Riley. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m crying too, Stace. Riley was such a sweet dog who just wanted to love us and love us and love us. He will definitely be missed. I think Jesus has a special comfortable loving place for him. Great job pouring out your love for him.


    1. If there’s a doggy heaven, Mom, I’m pretty sure Riley is chief greeter. Thanks for loving him even though you’re not “a dog person.” XOXO


  12. Sorry to hear of your loss of Riley. Thank you for sharing memories with us. Tears are rolling as I reflect on my own experience with my sweet Cami Ann. I will love up my little Lucy a bit tighter tonight.


    1. I know you did. Thank you for giving him so much love, and for taking care of him when we were away. He so loved your family, and Cousin Freddie!


  13. So sorry for your loss, our pets become a part of our family. Making it that much harder to lose them! Look up the rainbow bridge poem.


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