In August, 2001, I finally gave in. Our children has been asking for a dog since they were able to speak. Beau and I gave them stuffed dogs, walking, talking, barking toys~anything but the real thing. I knew if we got a dog I would be the one who ended up taking on the responsibility of exercising and training the pooch. I don’t know why, but that August I was ready. My mom found a litter in a neighboring community and I scheduled an appointment to go for a visit to meet the black lab puppies. Beau wondered why the kids were up so early on a Saturday. I told him we were going to have a look at puppies, to which he replied, “I think we need to talk about this.” He still hadn’t gotten onboard with the idea, but the kids and I were determined to find just the right pet for our family. Brittany, Ryan and I out-voted him. When we left, Beau threw in a little threat. “If you come home with a dog, Kel, I’m outta here!” I told him we’d miss him and off we went! Beau’s all bark and we all knew he was bluffing! We had agreed we wanted a female lab. The children fell in love with both of the females left in the litter. Our neighbor across the street also wanted a female, black lab and the breeder agreed to “loan” us one of the puppies to take home to her. The price on Beau’s face was priceless when we arrived home with not one, but two little pups!
Of course, Ryan and Brittany promised to be the care givers. For the few weeks before school resumed, they did a fine job of taking care of the little girl we named Riley. When they went back to school, I began taking Riley to work with me. I walked her every morning before we left the house. She just laid at my feet and slept most of the day, but at 11 am sharp she would nudge me to take her outside for a walk.
Shortly after I started taking Riley to work our nation was devastated by the horror of “9/11”. Riley didn’t know what was happening and still insisted I take her for her 11 o’clock walk. I was grateful to be outside, to hear the birds, see the trees and the blue sky and to know the world was still turning. Little did I know that our world would be shattered less than a year later when Brittany was in a fatal car accident. Little did I know then, how big a role Miss Riley would play in helping to keep me sane by insisting we walk every single day. She doesn’t care what the weather is like. She takes me for a morning meditation in Mother Nature, rain or shine. That sweet girl is such an important part of our family.
Riley is 13 years old now. She doesn’t walk fast. She sort of strolls these days, but she never lets me get by without taking her out for 30 minutes to smell the smells and get a bit of exercise. Beau feeds her every day. He has her picture as the wallpaper on his cell phone and posts pictures of her on FaceBook with the caption “my best friend”! He came around quickly. We knew he would!
How do you tell an animal how very much they are loved or what they’ve done for you? She’s one of a kind. We couldn’t have walked this far, through the pain and the grief, without her help. Thank you sweet, Sweet Riley.
Even if you don’t have a pet to walk with, try to get out and take a walk if you can. It’s amazing how a little fresh air and a taste of Nature can calm our minds and help ground us.
I HOPE you’re having a great week!