Recently, I published an article about my canine soulmate, my childhood dog Riley. Two short weeks after writing that piece and visiting him at home over the holidays, my world turned upside down when he fell seriously ill. He stopped eating and began coughing. He maintained his sweet demeanor, as always, even as his health deteriorated.
My family took him to the vet to investigate his sudden decline. We all remained hopeful that they would quickly diagnose him with an acute bacterial or viral infection with a good prognosis and a quick recovery. Unfortunately, a quick recovery was not in the cards. The doctors performed chest radiographs and observed many tumors all over his lungs, explaining his cough and lethargy. The lung tumors were likely metastatic sequelae of an oral tumor that they found when they looked in his mouth.
This shocking news left my family with really only one humane option: euthanasia. To say the least, I am devastated. A very influential part of my world crossed the rainbow bridge that day. It has been even more difficult to come to terms with the loss being thousands of miles away from my family.
However, I am a part of such an incredibly supportive community of animal lovers who understand the important role that dogs have in our lives. My friends and vet school colleagues have helped me through this transition and grief with such amazing compassion and understanding. I am so grateful for each and every kind word or hug.
Not a day passes that I don’t think about Riley and the impact that he had on my life. I know that I cannot expect to “overcome” his loss, but I can channel that energy into something positive–gratitude. I am so incredibly fortunate to have animals in my life that have changed my world for the better. Riley helped to make me who I am today, and his pawprints will never leave my soul.