The Life of Riley

On June 19, 2006 I met Riley for the first time. He arrived at our cabin riding on my husband’s shoulder, looking out the truck window at me as they came up the driveway. He was my husband’s 30th anniversary gift to me, and no matter how many more years together we have, he will always be the best one.

A little black lab puppy who loved to romp in the hostas and hide under things like porches and beds. That first night I had to take him outside several times. We lived in the woods with no city lights around, and it was a dark night. I made the mistake of not putting him on a leash, and within a heartbeat he was off the porch and outside the circle of light. It took me a few panicked minutes to roust him back toward the porch, and I learned never to put my little black puppy out at night without a leash to keep him from disappearing.

He was an adventurous puppy, and very soon at home out in the woods and running free on our 14 acres. Our spoiled rotten Golden Retriever Katy grudgingly welcomed him into the family and took him along on what we called her patrols, going down the driveway and circling around the property almost like she knew the boundaries.

Riley became fast friends with my grandpupply, Clyde, another Golden, who was only months older than him and came to visit and stay a few days or a week quite frequently. They would take to the woods early in the morning and come dragging back down the ridge about sunset, usually either covered in mud or beggar’s lice, but both happy and wearing puppy grins.

Bo came along a year or two after Riley, a chocolate lab this time, a rescue dog who was a year older than Riley, and a dopey, strange dog. Katy, Riley, Clyde, and Bo, along with my younger son’s dog Jack, and eventually Yona, Clyde’s German Shepherd sister (who thought she was also a Golden Retriever), they made up the menagerie that would become my Treehouse name.

Years passed, the dogs roamed and played, grew older, and one by one they left us, starting with Jack just after we started the blog here, and continuing through Yona, who left us just a few weeks ago.

Today I take Riley in to the vet and the last of the menagerie will be gone.

Thanks for taking a moment to help me celebrate the life and love of my best friend. I love you always Riley. Put in a good word for me, and tell the menagerie how much they are missed by all who loved them.

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392 Responses to The Life of Riley

  1. Wengair says:

    You are a beautiful person.

    Liked by 13 people

  2. its 5 O'Clock Somewhere says:

    I am crying at work – not looking forward to that day with my beloved first and only doggie Liberty….
    you paint a beautiful Menagerie! Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mr Lawson says:


    Liked by 6 people

  4. listingstarboard says:

    This hurts my heart–as I recoil in disgust seeing how hideous human beings are my love and tenderness towards animals, dogs in particular grows and grows. My idea of heaven on Earth would be to have a vast farm with hundreds of rescue pups….May your precious Riley pass in peace and forever romp in Heaven with his fellow “menagerie”

    Liked by 18 people

  5. Super Elite says:

    The loss of your loved one just makes me cry. In Heaven there will be no more death and loss of our loved ones. I read a book that seems to show that our pets will be with us in Heaven. I believe it is so.

    Liked by 8 people

  6. Shark24 says:

    God bless Riley and you, beautifully written.

    Liked by 10 people

    • greenswampgirl says:

      No words. Just tears.
      Thank You Lord for giving us best friends.

      Liked by 5 people

    • skw8 says:

      Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story of your beloved animals
      who had left and now Riley.

      In a world full of chaos and pain, our animal friends bring such joy in
      life and also in our precious memory of them.

      Your writing of this story was so touching.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yadent says:

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

    Author unknown…

    Liked by 17 people

  8. amwick says:

    Oh ….Menagarie…It is the greatest act of love, and the most difficult..

    Someone asked an interesting question,,, when you get to heaven,, what is the first thing you hope God will say to you at the gate???

    My answer was instant….

    Hey, Amwick,, your dogs are over there,, they’ve been waiting and waiting, but, they’ve been such good girls…

    I am so sorry… so very sorry.

    Liked by 14 people

  9. Genie says:

    Good boy, Riley!

    Liked by 7 people

  10. California Joe says:

    We have two wonderful Chocolate Labs and an English Cream Golden Retriever. They are as much a part of our family as my son and daughter. My heart hurts so much for you Riley!

    Liked by 5 people

  11. Michael Hennessy says:

    One of the toughest things one will ever have to do. Rest in Peace.

    Liked by 8 people

  12. oldiadguy says:

    You have my deepest sympathy over the loss of your best friend. I lost my two angels in 2018. First Pixie, who I wrote about here and then Gracie. They leave a hole in your heart that can never be filled. I know that Riley and the rest of menagerie will be waiting, to lead you to the Lord’s light when you leave this physical life, just as I know that Pixie and Gracie will be waiting for me and my DW when we leave this life. Always remember that they are God’s gift to us as they are his little furry angels.

    God Bless and take care

    Liked by 7 people

  13. TYSHAB says:

    Giving your heart to an animal is such a bittersweet experience. How blessed you, Riley and the rest of the menagerie were to have each other. I pray God comforts you.

    Liked by 5 people

  14. willthesuevi says:

    God Bless.

    Everyone of mine took a part of my heart when moved on to forever sunny porches.

    Enjoy your memories of the good times.

    Liked by 5 people

  15. Gary says:

    I am truly sorry, and I must agree (having read your postings over the years) You are a “beautiful person” and we are enriched by your presence.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. BestBets says:

    Brought tears to my eyes. I recently had to put down my beloved 14.5 yo golden/Aussie mix. She was an incredible dog who helped me through some very tough times. I am so blessed to have had her in my life. I’ll be forever grateful to her. Dogs really are our best friends.

    Liked by 6 people

  17. Ughh. Socked me right in the heart.
    So sorry Menagerie.

    Both my professional and personal life has revolved around dogs..and other animals, 24/7 for 50 years. Have had my life enriched by just about every breed and mutt that exists.

    Maybe you could ask Riley to check on my crew! There’s a golden or two and a yellow lab he would love. I know they are waiting for me. It would be much appreciated. Thanks, bam bam

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Wethal says:

    Human beings don’t deserve such fine animals as dogs, but God in His mercy lets us have them, anyway,

    Liked by 6 people

  19. delmarvajim says:

    “M”–, My grandson’s name is Riley and his greatest wish is to become a vet and have a doggie daycare that helps rescue dogs

    Liked by 5 people

  20. An says:

    I know how heartbreaking it is to lose a floofy family member.

    I’m sorry, this is very sad 😦 I’m sure they remember the lifetime of love you gave them.

    Liked by 5 people

  21. NJ Transplant says:

    It is so hard to lose a beloved pet. I am on my 6th dog now. Each one had a beautiful personality and brought such joy to us. God Bless you.

    Liked by 5 people

  22. AE May says:

    “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
    ― Will Rogers

    Liked by 2 people

  23. My grandmother said the worst thing about growing old was outliving some of her (17) children.
    I feel the same way about outliving my many puppies over the the past half century.
    Bless you mam.

    Liked by 5 people


    I sit here with tears streaming down my face reading the post and comments. With my Goldy, Max, sitting in his favorite spot. By my side.
    God Bless..

    Liked by 5 people

  25. Merle Marks says:

    I am a veterinarian. Not a week goes by that I don’t participate in the passing of a member of someone’s family. Please know we all feel your sorrow and share your grief.

    Liked by 7 people

  26. hoosiergranny says:

    Praying that Riley and the rest of the menagerie meet you at the rainbow bridge.

    Liked by 3 people

  27. dykalg says:

    We will be thinking of you and riley today dear menagerie. the pain of parting is equal to the love you shared. the “gethsemane moment”

    Liked by 2 people

  28. vml9000 says:

    Just reading about Riley and your love for him and the pain of his loss made me cry my eyes out! I know the devastation of losing a beloved companion animal. I still cry over my own loss! I am sorry! The loss is tremendous! It comes from the soul!

    Liked by 4 people

  29. tominellay says:

    What a beautiful read – thank you for this, Menagerie!

    Liked by 3 people

  30. MaineCoon says:

    I cry too. Our furry ones are our family. Such a beautiful tribute to all of them. As you grieve the loss in due time may the memories bring great joy.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. senda72 says:

    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

    Beautiful words, Menagerie. I am so very sorry for the loss of your precious Riley, as well as your other furr-babies. They truly were blessed to be loved and cared for by you and your family.

    Liked by 4 people

  32. frankdear52 says:

    Dogs truly are our best friends. Tough to let them go but know they are waiting for us on the other side. Prayers for your family in your loss.

    Liked by 3 people

  33. Alison Wilson says:

    Reading your post brought back tears to my eyes for our Irish Setter who has been gone now for over 26 years. We still have pictures of her hanging on our walls.
    It is really like losing a child. A hole in the heart that, while it may become less tender when touched, never really closes. My heart goes out to you today.

    Liked by 4 people

  34. Heartfelt prayers for your family today and every day

    Liked by 2 people

  35. lansdalechip says:

    Two black labs and a golden retriever later (won’t regale you with tales of the golden. Suffice it to say, he went to the Massachusetts Department of Corrections) I share your grief today. Particularly appropriate this afternoon as we lost the last parent/mother-in-law yesterday. That doesn’t fill the hollow spot in either of our hearts, but sometimes shared grief is easier.
    Peace and great memories to you and yours.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Hans says:

    After loosing our Standard Poodle a friend gave us a book titled All Dogs Go To Heave,, yes it’s true for all the non conditional love they give.

    The waiting for you at the front door. The exuberance as you suggest they go for a walk with you. The memories are endless…

    God bless you

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Herbygal says:

    I am so sorry. As someone who has been there, it is so hard. God bless.

    Liked by 3 people

  38. So sorry for your loss. IF there are no dogs in heaven I don’t want to go there.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. sdogood says:

    I had one very special dog in my life given to me as a gift as a puppy. He passed away some years ago and it was so painful, that I cannot bring myself to become attached to another animal. God bless and I’m sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. rah says:

    For most of us our dogs are a part of our lives. For our dogs we are ALL of their lives. It sounds to me as though in your case you and your companions were All of EACH OTHERS LIVES. There are those that claim that animals do not have souls. We know better don’t we! I’m pretty sure yours will be waiting for you on the other side of that rainbow bridge when it comes your time to cross.
    God Bless.

    Liked by 2 people

  41. Father of 3 Gen Zers says:

    Thank You for sharing this wonderful, heartfelt story.

    Liked by 2 people

  42. RoninInCA says:

    Thank you for this post M.. Your posts Always Paint a picture in time.. I wish more people could pause in life and reflect as you do.. You have a gift..

    Liked by 2 people

  43. Linus in W.PA. says:

    Travel well, Riley.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Nonniemae says:

    I knew I shouldn’t read this post before going to lunch with my daughter and granddaughters! “Why are you crying, J?” Such beloved members of our families and such wonderful memories. Have a better day tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Always a very sad day when it arrives.
    I feel your pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. 335blues says:

    I understand your loss as if it were my own.
    My childhood German Shepard breathed his last
    in my lap with my arms around him.

    Liked by 2 people

  47. Davenh says:

    My wife and I foster rescue dogs until they can be adopted. Over 100 successful adoptions and counting. I’ve been struggling with an injury from work for the past 3 years, one of the few bright spots have been spending more time with these beautiful animals. Dogs are truly a gift from God. Don’t worry I’m fairly certain they’ll be waiting to be reunited with us.

    Liked by 1 person

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