Upon the news of Riley, my close friend, Tim, and his wife drove Friday evening to Grand Forks, bringing food and positive energy and a needed emotional boost.
A handful of years ago, I met Tim when we both met up with an evening running group. We learned, at the time, that we lived close together. And it happened that my big red pooch, who likes everyone, was especially fond of Tim. For a couple years, the three of us would set off early most mornings, following our sense of exploration and adventure that buoyed our minds, spirit and conversation. We became lifelong friends one step at a time.
Before those runs, I’d open the back gate and Riley would barrel down the driveway, past the truck and virtually tackle Tim in the street. I learned early on that it didn’t work to fight him, Riley was always determined to greet his running pal as though he hadn’t seen him in years.
This past Friday evening, the scene was a little more subdued but predictably similar. It didn’t surprise me that Riley would show signs of his former self upon the arrival of our guests.
As soon as Tim and Brenda appeared in the house, Riley greeted them with friendly growls, whimpers, a toy in his mouth, a dangerous tail and an enthusiasm the pooch hadn’t shown recently.
While they were kind enough to bring food, and interpret their weekend plans to pay a visit to Riley, it will be impossible to forget Riley’s reaction to their arrival.
At lunch Friday, my hopes were bolstered as Riley was eating well and even pulled on the leash, showing some strength and energy, during a second short walk. A visit from our running buddy and his wife hinted at some of Riley’s former puppy playfulness.
This morning, I was finally able to convince to go outside with me, where he sat on the berm and watched some participants from the Rollin’ on the Red inline skating marathon go by. Then we went for a short, short walk.
Coincidentally, I’ve been told numerous times (including by one of the inline skaters) during the past several days about how Riley is a beautiful dog – comments by strangers who don’t know he is sick. Still, my memories are filled by his kindness of spirit and personality that has touched so many people. Today I’m grateful for the memories and the impressionable moments, and good friends making time to visit.