We picked up this gorgeous little brown dobermann when she was nine weeks old, on a cold and rainy 5th November. For the whole of the three hour drive she sat curled up in my lap. Immediately on getting her home we took her out into the garden for a pee – it was a long drive for a little pup. But as soon as we took her outside all hell broke loose with everyone in the neighbourhood letting off their fireworks all at once. It was like a war-zone and she ran in terrified and peed on the living room rug. I don’t think she’d even noticed Dexter at that point. After greeting us he stayed away; he wasn’t that interested in something so small.
We cleaned up and then went to the TV room. The puppy had eaten before we left her breeders house so she had a drink, but no food. We were hungry and thirsty too, so we put out snacks and drinks on the coffee table, completely forgetting what it is like having a puppy around. She immediately dove at the coffee table, wiping everything out! So we cleaned up and started again.
By this point she was tired and rolled over onto her back in what was to be her trademark sleeping position – spatchcock!
“Boy is she going to have the life of Riley”, said Dean.
“Yes she is”, I agreed. And that’s how Riley got her name.
We lost Riley a few weeks short of her ninth birthday, too young. She died peacefully in my arms after a long walk, no suffering, no illness a year and a day after Dexter died. The timing of her death told me so much and gave me so much comfort in my shock and sadness. She did her duty, as the most loyal dobermann we have ever had and made sure we were OK and Tulku was whipped into shape, but ultimately life without her mate, Dexter, was not enough to keep her here.
Riley was a home-body and a princess, always preferring a sofa or a rug to the ground. She would walk around puddles and never got dirty. Riley was a city girl. She took it hard when we moved to Spain. For the first six months every time we opened the car she jumped in and waited as though we were going back home to London. When we all got in the van for the last time to come here to the finca where we now live, she looked around in shock and disbelief when we arrived.
She loved the common where we walked the dogs in London, some times with about 20 other dogs. She had her special friends there; Lottie, Rouie and Gypsy and she missed them a lot. We hardly see any other dogs here. Local people walk the streets in the evenings, but not with their dogs. Very often the dogs are left chained up for the whole of their lives. It’s the thing we like least about living here.
When Dexter died Riley grieved hard, for at least a month. I forgot how hard that was for her until I looked back and looked at what I had written at that time. The light went out of her eyes and I wondered whether we would lose her too. She loved nothing more than to cuddle up to Dexter with her head on his haunches, as she’d done from the very first night we brought her home. (Although it took Dexter a few weeks to accept that without getting up and walking a way. Once he realised that she was a girl he accepted here attention.)
She began enjoying life more as Tulku got bigger. Every morning she jumped up raring to play with Izzy and Tulku. She accepted Izzy more easily than Tulku, perhaps because Dexter was here then and he accepted her straight away. Plus, she was never that keen on puppies, especially boy puppies. He was never phased by her occasional grumpiness and she became more affectionate towards him every day – and he really needed to be taught a little respect every now and then.
Riley had a couple of small lipomas before we left London, which became quite large in the last year of her life, after Dexter died. She was prone to allergies in London, often getting itchy ears and feet and we always had to be careful over her food. We stopped vaccinations when she was about three years old. Lipomas are benign fatty tumours that are considered to be harmless and they definitely don’t bother her, but they are evidence of something being out of balance. Her great heart nearly broke over Dexter’s death and although she carried on bravely, I think the loss was too much for her and that will have taken its toll on her immune system. Perhaps this is how death found her, waiting for the best time to take her home to her love.
Riley was the most stable of dogs. She didn’t complain or fuss and was always obedient and absolutely consistent. ie the ‘normal’ one to which everyone else is compared. I sometimes thought that it must have been hard for her as Dexter needed so much attention in his last few years and then we got a puppy and then another puppy. But now I know that that was never an issue. A couple of days ago, on the anniversary of Dexter’s death, I went into the woods to feel his presence. Riley came with me as she always did. Dexter brought us here and into Sophia’s Story, so there’s much to be grateful for. I was musing on this in the woods and realizing that I haven’t spoken to him so much lately, because now (thanks to him) I interact directly with the Wisdom Goddess. I was feeling immense gratitude for him and for all dogs and Riley got up and nuzzled me, quite rare for her when we were just sitting in the woods together and it was the most beautiful, poignant moment of love and connection between us. In that moment, a thought bust into my head like a memory, which is how I receive communication from the Aeon Sophia:
“I gave you dogs so that you will always see your Beauty reflected in their eyes, even when you forget it yourselves.”
Then Riley left. She went back to the cabin, looking back over her shoulder at me once. It was only after she died that I realized that this was her lesson, that she had patiently communicated through her whole life of loyalty and devotion. She was teaching what Sophia wanted me to share about dogs in this story, that they only see the Luminous Child in us. Riley fulfilled her purpose in the perfect moment and her last gaze over her shoulder was a goodbye, because she knew sh had done her job and could return to her love.
Today I changed the tagline of this blog from, Guiding Us Back to the Wild to A Love Story, because that is what it is, told through the lives of two beautiful and noble animals, who lived and died as emissaries of the love of the Wisdom Goddess for Her Luminous Children.