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.


  1. Our thoughts are with you as you go through this difficult time.

    1. Thanks for the kinds words. And thanks to the expertise and dedication of everyone at the VMC we were able to spend four more wonderful years with Rilley. We couldn't have done it without you.

  2. My heart is saddened to hear this news, I know how heartbreaking this is for your family. I have been cheering Rilley on since I found your blog. Rilley was very lucky to have your family love and care for him all of these years and as far as I know he outlasted all of his tumor fur friends. Good job Riley - job well done. Soar with the angels....

    1. Thanks Anne. We want you to know that we've always appreciated your notes of support over the years. I still can't believe that he's gone. I guess it's because it just happened so suddenly and it was all over so fast. It was a horrible experience and devastated our daughters to see him go from completely healthy (or so he indication otherwise) to just plain gone. I suppose that, in a way, it may have been for the best as he didn't suffer through a drawn out decline.