As many of you know, two weeks ago we lost our beloved Golden Retriever, Riley. It has been a tough couple weeks in the Wheeler house as there is a very large presence missing. You see, Riley wasn’t only a big 105-pound dog; he had a big personality too. He would bark very loudly anytime someone came to the door, whenever a dog or passer-by was spotted walking down the street and (most hilariously), whenever a dog dared to show its face on the TV. He would be overcome with joyous emotion and cry every single time he greeted us upon our return home. I swear he had accepted the fact that we were never going to return so, when we did get home, it was absolutely glorious to him!
His last few weeks were spent lying in the grass in the backyard chewing on sticks watching over Lillian as she splashed in the sprinkler and her kiddie pool. He was very protective and would have done anything to protect his family. There was one time while we were living at Baxter Place in Portland; a drunk (somehow) stumbled into our apartment. Both Riley and Porter were on this guy before he could get 3 steps inside. “Please get your dogs off me!” he said as I hollered, “Please get the hell out of our apartment!”
I’m pretty sure he knew he was dying as he would give us an “I’m sorry, Mom and Dad” look often over those last few weeks. He started losing a lot of weight, falling behind on our daily walks and was having trouble going to the bathroom. We tried telling ourselves that he would be ok. Our little fur-child would bounce back like he always did. But, instead we got the worst possible diagnosis when we brought him to the vet that Friday morning. We were advised to put Riley down, as he was beginning to suffer from his ailments. His bowels had shifted so much the vet said it looked as though he had been hit by a car (as a result of tumors shifting his insides). His cancer, arrhythmia and other aliments had finally caught up to him. Worried that he would go into cardiac arrest over the weekend we decided Saturday at noon we would help Riley end the pain.
We gave him a magnificent last day. We wanted to try and do all of his favorite things before we had to say goodbye. The day was spent swimming, eating steak tips and Dairy Queen vanilla soft serve and, of course, lots and lots of snuggles. Heidi, my father and I took him on a final walk to his favorite spot up at Colby College in the morning. It ended with lots of tears and kisses.
Both of our dogs pre-date the relationship between my wife and I, which makes it extra hard. My heart was broken knowing the emotional pain my wife was in. Heidi and I were holding him as he took him last breath. We both got to spend some alone time with him saying our final good byes before we left the vet. I can’t say enough good things about Kennebec Veterinary Services. They always took such great care of Riley and looked forward to seeing him every time he visited. And goodness knows he was there a lot.
Riley is back home now and watches over us from a beautiful wooden box on our mantle. He will forever and always live in our hearts. We love you Bubba. Good boy, Riley, good boy.