This is the hardest post I've had to write to date. Saturday, St. Patty's Day, we laid Riley to rest. Our friend and vet, Frances, came over and put her to sleep with us whispering "I love you" to Riley the whole time. Looking over to Frances, I saw that she, too, was crying. I wondered out loud how she does it.
Many years ago, Riley saved my life. A man broke into my house in the middle of the night, stabbed me, and escaped out the front door to have Riley pursue him, jump on his back and rip the side and back of his neck open. Not too many people know that story, as it's not one that I tell often. If it hadn't been for that courageous dog that night, I may not be here today with my family, having a family. She is my hero even after death.
Her cancer had spread, she had tumors, and weeping cysts. She looked tired and sad. She had lost weight. She threw up several times on Saturday morning. I called Frances and she said it wasn't a good sign. It could mean her kidneys were starting to shut down. Enough was enough. We had loved her, cared for her, and she did the same for us. It was, as my sister in law Kerry, eloquently said, our last act of love to give her a dignified and loving death.
Shannon dug a nice grave in our pasture so Riley could be laid to rest with the horses. The horses she loved to go trail riding with, chase around the round pen and later in life, watch from the back porch. I buried her, and Shannon came to help as I grew weary. It started to rain. As we put the last bit of dirt over her, I started walking up the hill, head down, crying. Shannon told me to look up. I did, and saw the most beautiful rainbow. I ran to get my camera. I had to document God's promise to us. It gave me hope that Riley was with all the other loved and unloved pets in Heaven. I don't believe pets have souls, but I do believe they have spirits. And I do believe I will see her again.