Today, the day after the first anniversary of Dexter’s death, we lost Riley. It was sudden and unexpected. When I look back I can see that she seemed a little tired and that she wanted to lay outside on the earth, but I had no idea she was ready to go. She got up easily this morning as she always did – she always seemed to want to go out for the morning walk so that she could get her breakfast after. She loved her food. This morning she ran and played, rough and tumbled with Izzy and Tulku as usual. She deflected Tulku from bundling Izzy, as she always does and then they heard something and all three took off through the woods.
Tulku lost Izzy and Riley and came back to us and then went running off to find them. About 10 minutes later Izzy and Riley came back and we sat in the woods for a bit and then headed back to the cabin. Riley sat in front of the door on the verandah and felt a bit shaky. I asked her if she was OK and she said yes, as she always did and I went inside. But she wasn’t alright. Jon saw her keel over and called me out. I held her as she tried to sit up again and soothed her and she died in my arms. I tried to give her mouth to mouth for a few minutes as I felt her last gasps, but I knew it was her moment to go.
Riley was the most loyal dog we ever had; the most dedicated to reflecting our beauty back, as the Aeon Sophia told me in the woods yesterday. She nuzzled me in that moment and left, looking back over her shoulder so poignantly, after I received that message. It was as though her work was done.
She had also trained Tulku thoroughly; taught him how to play without having to win and how to be a bit gentle with Izzy. Riley saw that we now have a pack, with Jon and Dorota, that we are safe and loved. I think she wanted to join Dexter, who was the love of her life.
The timing of her passing is uncanny. This is the signature of the love story that held these two beautiful creatures together. Riley grieved for at least five weeks after Dexter died. I think she would have gone there and then if we hadn’t got Tulku, although she wasn’t keen on him at first and we called her Grumpy Grandma. He learned very quickly that it was easy to rile her up, but that she would never hurt him. (More of that in Tulku’s Story.) There was enough of Dexter’s thread in Tulku for her to keep a hold on her life at that time and her sense of responsibility kicked in; he needed to be trained to be Dexter’s successor and nobody could do it but her. Ultimately, it was not enough to keep her here. Her sense of longing for her mate grew stronger and she gently let go of the threads that kept her here. I felt Dexter’s name on my lips with her last breath.
NB: I also got stung by wasps a couple of weeks ago, just like I did a couple of weeks before Dexter died. So much still to learn.