The Life of Riley
"Nooooooo! Riley! Come! Come! Riley!” River called after the dog in a futile attempt to stop him from what he was about to do. And then he did it. Riley ran head long into the icy San Francisco Bay while he was supposed to be playing ball with another dog and three adults. We knew he was a flight risk but we needed to believe that he had matured and that the call of the water would have somehow lost its hold on his labradoodle brain. Nope.
He swam in circles barking and having a gay ‘ol time. Did I mention the bay is 55 degrees? Yeah. He refused to come in. Balls, treats, threats nothing worked. So River jumped in after him. Yup.
Stripped to boxers and a t-shirt in he went to rescue our beloved best friend from - himself. Riley was having none of it. Riley swam toward Alcatraz and was attracting a lot of attention. Not the good kind. Six seals (the animals not the Marines) approached and started to circle around my sweet boy. He did not seem to register any danger. River and I knew what these seals were capable of - thus the frantic swim toward Riles. Meanwhile on shore I saw a man rowing a dingy and I yelled and flagged him down. He rowed over to Riley and snatched him out of the water and into the dink. Phew. River started to swim to shore when the damn dog leapt out of the boat. WTF? At this point River’s legs are cramping in at least 2 places - did I mention the water temp?
For the next 10 minutes the man rowed toward shore while River tried to hang onto the dink and the dog with Riley fighting him furiously. The man was growing tired and really seemed over the whole scene and dropped Riley and River off at a rock wall. Yeah - like not the beach.
I clambered down to get the dog as River drug himself up the rocks. The whole thing took at least 30 minutes to unfold. Riley’s scrapes and scratches healed within a few days. River still has scarring - it has been 6 months since the incident.
Riley Einstein Edgeworth Braun von Putt Rosseaux was born sometime in 2011 in Vallejo, California. His name really is Riley Einstein but longer names have an air of nobility. And he is a jaunty boy!
Man, let me tell you there never was a pup that loved water more than this fluffy beast. River tells tales of when they lived in the big house with River and Tim (in El Dorado Hills - not prison) and Riley would escape into the back yard and swim and swim and never get out of the pool. He is a water dog. We are water people. It should have been the perfect scenario.
The boy needs to run and fetch and chase. Each day in Berkeley we would take him up to the grassy park-like area and throw balls, play monkey in the middle and mingle with some of the local bitches. He loved it. He had pals on the dock - Dobby, Jughead, Sassy and that rascal Rufus back in the day. His man-pal Tom always had treats - Dave never grew tired of being barked at (it was the glasses)! - and life was peachy. Our plans to throw off the dock lines were solidifying and we had all of the facts as to how to get him cleared into Mexico and beyond. In further research we learned of all of the stray dogs roaming Mexican beaches and paused to think of how safe he would be off leash. Tahiti has stringent quarantine laws for dogs. Quarantine. As in locked away for over 3 weeks.
As the dream of how it would actually unfold started forming more clearly each time I posed the question, “How’s it gonna be, George?” we both knew but neither wanted to say…
After a weeks-long internal battle I broached the subject with River. I said something like, “We need to have a hard conversation about what is best for Riley…” Mind you this is the dog that Tim picked out, the dog that stood by River through the darkest times after Tim died. The dog that cuddled and snuggled his way into my heart and released a long standing resistance to letting another animal into my heart. The dog that can look at you in just a way that tells you that he is empathizing with you or that he needs to poo. The dog that lets you blame your farts on him. The dog that bounces toward you like he has a secret that he just cannot wait to spill.
We love Riley. Not like how you love an animal - like how you love another being. A being that is sensitive to your needs and lets you know that he has some too (albeit not many.) And so the pro / con list was concocted. Not pro /con for us and how we would be affected (devastated - major con) but how Riley would be affected.
The decision was made after the would be swim-to-Alcatraz event. Our hearts were heavy as we started letting our friends and family know that we would not be able to take "Riley the Wonderdooodle" along for our adventure. He was to have his own social media page and his own vlog. Alas, it did not come to pass.
We had no less than 4 people offer to take Riley even before we had decided that it was better for him to remain land-based. If you ever met him you know what a good-natured and endearing soul he is. Last July we packed up all of his stuff and drove him to his new home with Kara (Tim’s sister) and Leslie. We stayed the weekend and knew immediately that this was the best for him. I cried, Kara cried, River cried, Leslie cried.
Epilogue: Riley is still spreading magic in his new home. He goes on daily walks and sleeps in a big comfy bed. He runs. He has a best pal, Oakley. He is helping to heal hearts and mend relationships. It is who he is and I am happy.
Bark Less - Wag More, CJ