The Life of Riley


Almost 17 years ago to the day, we brought home a sweet 3-month-old Bichon puppy. My husband had recently retired, and so I named the puppy, Riley, since he would be “living the life of Riley” with my husband, while I was still working.

We had forgotten how much work puppies were. But we took on the task for this little cutie. We soon found Riley to be very smart, although stubborn. We took him to Obedience School, and he learned the basics. But the bottom line is if he doesn’t want to do something he doesn’t do it. And, you know, he has us wrapped around his little paws, so what is his motivation?

We soon found out that Riley loves to be outside. He especially loves going camping with us. Well, our type of camping…the sun feels just as good on a comfy couch as it does outside in the dirt or grass.

He has proven himself to be a great Protector too. Those (cute little) squirrels don’t have a chance when he’s around. He sniffs out all of their hiding places.

We also discovered that Riley has a sweet tooth. One Christmas I had a pound box of See’s chocolates gift wrapped and under the Christmas tree. (I know. What was I thinking?)

Rick and I had gone out for the evening. When we got home, Riley met us at the top of the stairs. Well, actually he was standing there and when we started upstairs, he ran away. That was a dead giveaway. He had been doing something he knew he shouldn’t have been doing.

We went upstairs and this is what greeted us….

How many pieces of candy are in a pound box of See’s candy? I definitely know it’s more than 8.

When I picked up the box and looked at Riley, he took off running into the next room. I followed him to see where he was going. He ran into the guest room, where he promptly attempted to pick up a piece of candy that he had “hidden” in the corner for later.

Once I picked that piece up, he hurried over to get another piece behind the door. What a stinker. I picked that one up, and he raced into a second room. This went on until we had retrieved 5 pieces of candy. He had apparently eaten the rest. We never did find any more hidden anyway.

We called the Vet, knowing chocolate isn’t good for dogs. We were advised to just watch him and if he got really active to give him Benadryl, and if that didn’t calm him down to bring him into the office. Interestingly enough, we were told that he probably would only be sleepy that evening but be “wired” or hyperactive the next day. And that turned out to be true. All turned out okay though. He was fine. But the experience didn’t cause him to give up his love for sweets.

As cute as Riley was as a puppy, he is equally cute all grown up. Bichons just have that adorable face and sweet “smile.”

In 2014 we adopted a second Bichon, Stella, and Riley turned out to be a great Big Brother. Even though they both have their own beds, Riley always crawls into Stella’s bed, just to be close to her. Or if they are resting on the couch, Riley has to be right there with Stella.

The thing about dogs though, is they don’t live as long as we do. Over the past year, Riley’s quality of life has deteriorated to the point where it just isn’t humane or kind to keep him with us just because we want him here.

We’ve made the difficult decision to send him on his way, to his next adventure. As of yesterday afternoon, he started running full speed, instead of limping along because of his arthritis. He is now able to see and hear, rather than feel alone because his senses have failed him. And his mind is now sharp. Instead of getting lost in the kitchen, he is looking for all of his friends, and they will run and jump and play together like they used to. And, if I know Riley, he’s probably looking for the dogs we’ve previously owned to compare notes. “They used to put a few little table scraps in my dry dog food. Did they ever do that for you?….They didn’t? Oh….. I’m sorry. They must have loved me the most.”

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Comments (18)

  1. Maria Boone

    Aw, so sorry about Riley. I know from experience how much it hurts, even though you know you’ve made the right decision. Hugs.

    June 1, 2022 at 7:25 am
    • Karen Schulz

      Thank you, Maria. The right decisions aren’t always easy, as you know. I appreciate your kind words.

      June 1, 2022 at 8:41 am
  2. sherry pennington

    So sorry to hear about Riley. Saying goodbye is always hard even when you know it’s for the best.
    Sending hugs to you all and an extra one for Stella 🙂

    June 1, 2022 at 6:30 pm
    • Karen Schulz

      Thanks, Sherry. You’re right. It was the correct decision, but still hard. Thanks for the hug for Stella too. 🙂

      June 2, 2022 at 4:32 am
  3. pixelpalette

    Awwww … Karen you made me cry! Sad for you, but happy Riley made it over the rainbow bridge… I’m sure acting like the puppy he was, having a heck of a time with friends waiting for him…

    June 2, 2022 at 6:14 pm
    • Karen Schulz

      Thank you for your sweet words. Yes, I can definitely envision Riley running and playing freely now. 😉

      June 3, 2022 at 9:02 am
  4. Lynne Sims

    So sorry for your and Stella’s loss. I too have had to make the tough love decision. You will always miss him, but you will also always have those special memories. More hugs to you and some special ones for Stella.

    June 2, 2022 at 8:25 pm
    • Karen Schulz

      Thank you, Lynne. Since you’ve had to make a hard decision like this, I know you feel the pain of it all. But it will get better. Thanks for the hugs for us and Stella.

      June 3, 2022 at 9:01 am
  5. Tawnya

    I’m so sorry about Riley. He sounds like a wonderful dog – and very smart. I love that he hid chocolates around the house to eat later. I’m glad he didn’t get sick from eating them. I hope Stella is doing okay without him. Love and hugs to you and your family – including Stella.

    June 2, 2022 at 9:04 pm
    • Karen Schulz

      HAHA. Yes, Riley was super smart, but equally had a mind of his own. He often hid treats around the house for later. Then he would go back and move them to a “safer” place. Sometimes we had to just take the treat away, because it was causing him so much anxiety (we felt because he kept going back and moving it over and over again.) Thanks for your kind words and hugs.

      June 3, 2022 at 9:00 am
  6. Beatrice

    My heart breaks for you Karen! I know he has joined the other sweet pups over the rainbow bridge. It’s so very difficult. Take care and yes extra hugs for Stella too!

    June 3, 2022 at 2:05 am
    • Karen Schulz

      Thanks, Beatrice. Yes, it will take some time for sure. Thank you for your hugs for us all.

      June 3, 2022 at 8:58 am
  7. DeLoris Musick

    Oh Karen, I am so very sorry. All of us have watched Riley through the years and have come to love him too just as we do Stella now. You are right, Riley is running full speed ahead! Please give Stella a gentle hug from me. XOXO

    June 3, 2022 at 4:05 am
    • Karen Schulz

      Thank you, De. I’m so glad that you have enjoyed reading about Riley throughout the years. It makes me happy to know that he had friends he didn’t even know about. 🙂 XOOX

      June 3, 2022 at 8:58 am
  8. Vicki Garrett

    Karen, I know what is like to make a decision such as that and like you I know that Riley is having the time of his life now. I never had dogs in my adult years but grew up with them. For us, being in a military family, we had to find homes for our dogs and one in particular was special for me and it broke my heart when my mom and dad told us they had found a good home for her. Now in my adult years I have had cats and at one point had five at home with us. 4 have since gone to join others that we shared our home with and they are having a fun time together. I have one cat now who has proven to be a one person cat, she is jealous of others taking up my time! She is a Himalayan mix who has outlived all her feline companions and is 20 years old. I will definitely miss her when her time comes, but she is one stubborn cat and who knows may even outlive me! Give Stella a hug for me, I’m sure she misses her Riley! I send you and Rick hugs also. One day we will all get to see those precious beings again….I hear God loves animals too and has plenty in His kingdom! 😃❤️

    June 3, 2022 at 8:46 am
    • Karen Schulz

      Hi Vicki, Thanks for sharing your story and for your kind words. We can both look forward to seeing our beloved pets in Heaven again! Thank for your kind words too. They help.

      June 3, 2022 at 8:57 am
  9. Sue Ogden

    Karen, if I can see to type through my tears, I’m so sorry for YOU and YOUR family’s loss but so HAPPY for Riley’s new found freedom from pain and old age. I too have been in your position, it’s a super hard decision to make. I commend you for doing it and sparing Riley any more “aging”. Hope Stella will be able to take some of the sadness from you and hope she doesn’t have a hard time being an “only dog”! Good luck to all of you, it’s a transition.

    June 6, 2022 at 8:25 pm
    • Karen Schulz

      Thank you, Sue, for your kindness and support. Stella definitely is a comfort and seems to be doing okay for now. We are taking care of our son’s dog through the middle of July, so when he leaves, she will be the only dog. You’re so right. It’s a transition… and July will tell us even more of how she’s doing. Thank you again.

      June 7, 2022 at 4:45 am
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