Saturday, September 20, 2014

Farewell Rilley

This is the one blog entry that I have always dreaded writing and it may very well be my last post.  I knew the day would come but I honestly didn't think I would have to so soon.

Today we said goodbye to our beloved beagle.

Early this morning, around 4:45am, Sara and I awoke to something that has not happened since before Rilley's surgery all the way back on November 4, 2010...he was in the throes of a grand mal seizure.  Unfortunately it would last for close to an hour and a half and was one that he would not over come.  There is no need to detail the horrible experience other than to say that we were blind-sided by this event as it was so completely unexpected.  But rest assured we did everything we could for him, including rushing to the University of Guelph Veterinary Hospital...arguably the best place in the province for him to go.  The vet there advised us that given the length of time he had been seizing (which would have continued had they not intervened) and the rapid increase in his body temperature that there would most certainly be considerable collateral damage to his organs, if not his brain.  We knew what she was saying, it was time to say goodbye.

As I sit here reflecting on the past four years of Rilley's life, I guess we shouldn't be surprised that this day had come.  We have, on several occasions, counted the milestones, birthdays and holidays that we were lucky enough to spend with him as "bonus" days.  A lot of dogs would not have survived as aggressive of a tumour as Rilley had, so really, he cheated death once already. Of course he didn't do it on his own as he was fortunate to have been accepted into the ground breaking brain tumour research at the University of Minnesota.  He may never have known it, but he was, in his own little way, helping to improve the lives of human cancer patients.

Sara and I left Guelph with heavy hearts.  When we arrived home we broke the news to the girls.  I think they had hoped that since he was saved once before, it could happen again.  Needless to say they were devastated that he was gone and would never be coming home.  They were so young when we got him that they don't know life without him.

There are many things that run through your mind at a time like this, but I'd like to leave you with what I would say to him given the chance.

Rilley, the day Sara and the girls decided they wanted a dog, I have to say I wasn't convinced.  You see, I had never had a pet growing up and never considered myself much of an animal person.  But when we found you at the Orangeville SPCA you were cute, friendly and most importantly seemed to form an instant bond with the girls.  When we brought you home at two years old, you were already house broken, but were in desperate need of immediate obedience training...something, which I fear my old friend, was something you did not take to.  You always did your own thing, if you wanted something there was no regard for anything or anyone, even yourself.  If I were to tally all the damage you caused...well, let's not even go there.

Over the ensuing years you proved that what you lacked in discipline, you more than made up for in love.  You were always excited to see us whenever we would come home.  When either of the girls was hurt or sick, you would always cuddle up next to them...instantly making them feel better.  You even managed to soften the skeptic in me and found a special place in my heart.  Yes, I may have outwardly said that I merely "tolerated" you...but that was just male know that in reality I really, really loved you.  Today was the most difficult of my life, saying goodbye to my buddy, a faithful companion, not to mention the only other male in the house!  Rilley, you have been through a lot, but I want you to know that you were more than a pet, you were a much adored member of the family.

As we said our goodbyes this morning, I placed your favourite stuffed animal between your paws.  Winnie-the-Pooh has seen you through your darkest days and it only seemed fitting that he accompany you now on your next journey.  Take good care of him, I know that the two of you will be fine.

Farewell my friend.  We will all miss you.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

National Dog Day - August 26th

Today is
National Dog Day!

So celebrate the beloved best friend in your life!  More importantly remember that every year there are countless dogs who need to be rescued.  If you don't have one but have often thought about welcoming a dog into your life, then perhaps today is the day to visit your local shelter and see if there's one that's right for you.

After all, if it weren't for the many dedicated shelters across our country, our family may never have found Rilley, and we'd like to think that we're all better off for it.

Visit for more information.

Tweet about it with the hastag #NationalDogDay.

Share it on Facebook or Google+!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Four years since Rilley's life changed forever

"Wow, four years ago you say?"
We just wanted to post a small note to acknowledge that it was four years ago on this date that Rilley had his first Grand Mal least his first that one of us had witnessed (poor Sara, it really frightened her).  It was this day that thrust him into the world of cancer and specifically brain tumours.

This may have been a dark day in Rilley's life but it did lead us to meeting many amazing people along the way and look where we are today...he is still a happy and healthy member of our family.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Midsummer Night's Update

"Boy, am I glad to be home from the vet!"
Another summer is upon us and Rilley is enjoying every minute of it...well, sort of.  He didn't seem to appreciate the unplanned visit to the vet in the last couple of weeks.  Always vigilant about his health since the brain tumour, we feared that he may have had a bladder infection (or something worse) as he had been having a few accidents around the house.  So off to the vet he went...actually, since Sara and I were at work, off to the vet our kids had to drag him...but not before collecting a "sample" (yeah, the kids were impressed with that).

It turned out that the urine sample was inconclusive as it was too dilute...we had also noticed an increase in the amount of water he was drinking.  So, it was back to the vet that night to have some blood drawn and if that didn't provide any answers, Rilley would further diagnostics done.

"Look...I have an owie!"
The results of the blood test would be in the next day, but since our vet had begun her (much deserved) vacation, the new vet in the office would have to relay the results to us.  Yeah, I'm sure she was soooo looking forward to that.  First of all, Rilley's file must be the thickest one there but if that alone didn't frighten her, surely she must have heard stories about how freakish Sara is about her beloved pooch.  Nonetheless, first thing the following morning, as soon as the results reached the office, she called to let us know that everything was normal.

Whew, what a relief.  Yeah, it was just a possible bladder infection, but after having gone through what he has, it does make you wonder what, if anything, could happen next.  This fall will be the fourth anniversary of his surgery and involvement in the University of Minnesota's cancer research and we want him to live out his full life.  We are already looking forward to next year, while he was declared cured and cancer free on his first anniversary, five years marks the same milestone for humans and that would be an amazing gift.

Now, we all know that Rilley can be a source of some much needed comic relief, so here's one that made us chuckle.
"Ummm...hello there."

Last week we had him out for an evening walk.  Garbage had been put out for the following day's pickup and Rilley came across a lion...yes, a LION!  Obviously, it was of the plush variety, however it was also the same size as him and was standing on its own at the curb.  Well, Rilley had never seen something like this before and it quickly became apparent that he didn't realize it was just a toy so he cautiously approached.  Not just any approach, but his crouched, "I'm-a-tough-guy", approach he sometimes uses when he happens upon another dog on "his" sidewalk.

In the end, Rilley came to the realization that this strange being was no threat and continued on his way.  Although we're sure he was still a bit bewildered about this encounter.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Legacy of Jake the Warrior

Every once in a while we like to break from tradition and post about something other than Rilley.  Hard to believe, we know!  However, we just wanted to pass along a fabulous initiative undertaken by a friend of our blog.

In 2011 Jake the Warrior was also diagnosed with a brain tumour.  His owners, Frank and Jenn Valentine of New Jersey, contacted the University of Minnesota and enrolled him in the Brain Tumor Program.  Unfortunately, despite the ground breaking treatment, Jake later succumb to the cancer.

The loss of "The Warrior" devastated the Valentine's but that didn't stop them from rescuing another dog.

Enter Dusty, a brown and white pit mix originally picked up off the streets in the Bronx.  After passing through the shelter system, he found his forever home with Frank and Jenn.  Since coming into their lives, he too has had his own battle with cancer but has come out the other side a survivor!

Now, he is the inspiration for a new project that Frank has undertaken.  Dusty's Dog House is a doggy daycare that will also be a foster home for one lucky homeless pooch.  The project is currently in the fundraising stage and Frank has launched an Indiegogo campaign to get things rolling.

It sounds like a very worthwhile endeavour and if you would like more information, or to make a donation to Dusty's cause, here are some helpful links:

Dusty's Dog House website:

Dusty's Dog House Indiegogo campaign:

Monday, April 28, 2014

Rilley has reached his teens!

In human years Rilley entered his teens today.  Or those who follow the blog will know 11 years ago today we picked him out from all the other deserving pets at the Orangeville SPCA.

The day for the most part was just as uneventful as many other days around our house in recent years.  But then again, that's a good thing isn't it?  I've often wanted to install some internet connected cameras to be able to see exactly what he gets up to while we are out during the day, however, now that he's older I bet he pretty much spends the day asleep.

For the most part, this birthday went by without much fanfare.  But he did enjoy some special treats and as we all know, food is his most favourite thing to receive.

Here's to many more food-filled birthdays Rilley!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Where has the time gone?

That is a very good question!  I can't believe spring is here already (the cold certainly doesn't help you to believe winter is over) and I have yet to make my first post of the year.  Now, you could say that is a very good thing, which is true because no-news-is-good-news and in Rilley's case it certainly is good news.

He is still with us and still causing his own special brand of trouble, albeit at a slightly slower pace.  You see, Rilley is still passing his annual physicals with flying colours but he is starting to show his age.  The poor little guy has been having occasional bouts of back pain.  He doesn't cry about it, but we can tell whenever he takes just a little extra care when climbing onto or off of the bed or sofa.

Wait a minute!  Who am I kidding?
"Takes a little extra care..."?
This is the dog who laughs in the face of danger!

Okay, maybe not laughs, rather he doesn't necessarily realize there's danger when he sets his sights on something...or more to the point, on food.  So that statement should more appropriately have read that he "actually takes care when climbing onto or off of the bed or sofa."

When this first started we took him to see Dr. Ewing and as usual she takes very good care of him.  It was determined that this is indeed a sign of age progression and it seems to be restricted to his lower back.  We've put him on some medication (Metacam) for when the issue does flare up and changed his food from Satiety diet (the "fat" food that we used to give him to control his weight) and put him on a Mobility Support recipe. The theory is that the new food has ingredients that will help to avoid the medication being used full time.

The only downside to the new medication is that it lacks the qualities to satiate his appetite.  This leads to him being extra whinny around dinner time and he begins to demand his food early.  The funny thing is, he is quiet in the afternoon until Sara arrives home from work.  Then he unleashes full whine mode directly at her, only trying it on me when absolutely necessary.  He seems to know that if he keeps it up, after a long day at work, Sara will give in just to keep him quiet.  Although, I think he secretly hopes for two dinners as he continues to beg at the table for scraps despite having been fed.  But we were warned when we adopted him...

"He is very food motivated."

Rilley's "Battle Scar" is that little
black line near the centre of his head.
That was almost 11 years ago now and it still holds true to this day.

Basically, what I am trying to say with this post is that, aside from one age related issue, Rilley is continuing to do extremely well since his bout with the brain tumour over three years ago.  Aside from those occasional (and I do mean very rare) breakthrough seizures of rapid jaw movements, and the now slightly more visible scar line on his head, you would never know what he's been through.