Since my first days as a runner, when I took up the sport as part of a relay team in 2007, I’ve had some terrific running partners by my side. But there’s one that stands out: ready and willing to go regardless of the weather, season or what else is on the agenda.
And as my running habits turned more toward addiction, and I pursued longer and longer training runs in preparation for marathons, Riley’s been there, too.
We shared more than training runs along the way: summer weekends at the lake, boating and playing on the beach; treats ranging from ice cream to McDonald’s French fries; cross country skiing on quiet, snowy trails; and meeting new friends, both people and canines, nearly every step of the journey. He’s comforted me through life’s ups and downs, survived the wackiness and uncertain of flood fights, offered up his cheerful adoration and playful nature during good times and bad, and helped soften the hard edges of life.
Unfortunately, the truth is Riley hasn’t been doing well lately. Anytime you head into the veterinarian’s office on a Saturday morning, you hope for the best. The words, truthfully, aren’t easy to hear. They often get jammed together to blend the meaning, leaving me to wonder if I heard correctly. Serious enough to wonder how many more runs, like the one this morning, we’ll share. Serious enough to know that we’ll have a lot of life to pack into the next few weeks or months.
Those who have frequently read this blog over the past 5 years have certainly read about Riley. One of my good friends even described him as the healthiest dog in Fargo – where we lived before work took me to Bemidji and Grand Forks. And during our Fargo years, Riley may have been the best known dog in town – thanks to this blog.
Soon, I will write more about my friendly and devoted Golden retriever, but I thought I would first share a few pictures from his puppyhood back in late 2005 and early 2006.