This blog was supposed to be about preparing for graduation as a graduate and as parents of a graduate. I just can’t say that my heart is in a place to talk about graduation right now. Maybe next week?
So, what is it that is on my heart? Great question! My husband and I had the fortune of being dog parents of an older, stubborn German Schnauzer, named Riley. Riley was adopted from Kent’s mom who was fighting cancer. Riley has been a part of our family for what seems like about five years now.
I’ve never been a pet person. Seriously, tropical fish was about all I could manage as a kid. When I was first asked to go to my husband’s mom’s home and “pick up Riley,” I was totally clueless. Thankfully a friend went with me. She knew what to look for in terms of food, leash, dog bed, etc. She even picked him up and put him in my car. I wondered how all of this would play out. When Kent’s mom passed away, our niece articulated this about the dog, “it’s like nanna (grandma) left a gift for us.”
Riley chose me to be his person immediately. It’s like he knew I wasn’t a dog person. When he wanted something, attention, to be let outside, to be fed, he came to me. He would tap me with his paw to communicate a need. Neither Kent nor I were allowed to touch his feet. He always got very grumpy when we tried. Kent did almost all the unpleasant stuff. He bathed Riley, picked out eye stuff, and did a lot of doggie duty duty.
Riley was a great guard dog too. He made sure to let everyone who was on our porch know that he was watching the place. The mail carrier, the UPS/FEDEX people, the pizza delivery driver, the tenant who lives upstairs and any other cat, dog, squirrel, or skunk that he could see with his diminishing sight. He was gentle and tolerant with even the smallest of children.
After returning from a long weekend out of town, we brought Riley home. He was lethargic and didn’t eat much. He drank some water but didn’t do any business outside. And then…he was unable to stand. At 10:30 last night we took him to a nearby animal hospital. After I filled out their 49-question questionnaire, I began reviewing the Care Credit brochure. I knew that whatever happened here would be costly. The questionnaire asked us more than once to acknowledge our responsibility to “pay at the time of service.” I’ve had clients who have had care credit to help manage the expenses of animal care. The interest rate for this payment option ranges from 14%-18%. Not an ideal option for anyone really.
The doctor examined Riley immediately and informed us that there was a tumor in Riley’s liver and that he was bleeding internally. For the sake of Riley’s comfort and peace, we made the excruciating decision to let him go. We knew the day would come and we always thought we’d have more time with “Riley dog.”
The exam, procedure, and cremation totaled $590. Not exactly pocket change, but at least we were able to cash-flow the unexpected cost. Riley was 13 years old and the surgery was very risky. The cost for the surgery would have been conservatively between $6,000-$10,000. As a financial coach, I discuss with clients the expenses related to having pets all the time. I didn't realize the enormity of the costs and the emotional weight it causes clients until now.
I’ve never been through this before. This is my husband’s second dog so even though he’s been through this before, it is tough on him. What’s left? Riley's dog dish that still has some uneaten food in it. His water dish that came from Kent’s mom’s house. A collar, leash, and tie-up for camping. How many dog beds??? At least five! A sticker on our window that says a dog named Riley is inside (in case of emergencies). Not to mention the other miscellaneous stuff, dog crate, food, treats, bags…the list goes on.
I will never regret taking Riley into our home and family. I think now I can officially say I’m a dog person. Kent and I don’t know what the future will bring in terms of pets, but we are taking time to remember the blessing that Riley was in our lives.
The grief that we are experiencing now is worth every moment we had with Riley dog. Enjoy this most recent photo of Riley. I tried to buy a camp chair appropriate for him because he couldn't/wouldn't lay down on the ground! Alas, this chair wasn't quite big enough!