Miles for Riles

As I turned to leave Coby at Moorhead’s Doggy Depot, I couldn’t help but feel a bit overwhelmed.

Leaving the 12-week-old pup in the hands of trusted professionals didn’t beget emotion. No, it was all the memories of taking my first trusted pal, Riley, there so many times. The day care begins taking dogs at 12 weeks, and in my opinion and research, that early dog socialization plays such a pivotal role in their development.

But dropping off a new pup led to the obvious question: what happened to Riley?

And, while I have answered the question more than a few times since Aug. 27, it stung this bad this morning.

Ironically, Coby’s first day at doggy day care also marks what would have been Riley’s 8th birthday. He left far too soon, but he lived a great life.

Without telling a soul, I got up about 4 this morning to pull on my running clothes. Before heading off into the darkness, I scattered some ashes at Riley’s home for many years. Heading down the street, I met up with Tim, who agreed to run with me, and we followed a familiar path.

Along the way, more ashes were spread. These were Riley’s stamping grounds. This is where he ran with me so many times. And, on his birthday, I wanted to set some of his soul free. He was an explorer, independent and fun loving. It’s only fitting that I pay respects to him on the day he was born.

Over the next 8 miles – one for each year of Riley’s life – the conversation between Tim and me covered a lot of topics. Some fun, some simply focused on the reality of life. But I didn’t bring up Riley (among several nicknames, sometimes he was simply Riles).

In the frost-bitten morning, I wanted to keep those thoughts to myself. Until the memory flushed my mind with the question at the day care.

Today, my morning was spent running 8 miles. Miles for Riles.

5 thoughts on “Miles for Riles

  1. I have always loved your stories about Riley. We just lost our beloved dog of 12 years last week. It is a painful experience to get through so I appreciate reading about your own grieving and recovery process. Hopefully I, too, will find a new four-legged pal to share my running experiences with again one day.

  2. My head and heart would explode if I kept it all in. You are doing it your own way . . . on your own time. He was a REALLY good, good dog.

  3. You are good at keeping a secret. I wondered what you were carrying at the beginning of our run. Riley was a great dog and I too miss his enthusiasm and spirit. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of this day.

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