Having animals in my life is, to me, essential. I simply love the presence of a four-legged critter (or two, or three) by my feet, or in my lap, or accompanying me on a walk. Over the years there have been cats, dogs and horses, as well as smaller beings like gerbils, guinea pigs, fish, and even a hermit crab named Buster. Each contributed to my understanding of the ways of their species, their physical nature, and their individual personalities. They have been part of my growth and development as an artist and have shaped me as a person.
Sadly, I also understand all-too-well the heartache that comes when it's time to say that last goodbye, particularly to an animal who shared my life as intimately as Riley. I've heard people state they won't have a dog out of fear of the emotional pain they know is to come. However, I view it as the price to be paid for a dog's all-too-brief lifetime of love and devotion. At the moment, I'm acutely aware of just how hefty that price is.
The pain of losing Riley is deep. My sorrow is triggered by moments of the day that bear her signature: our before-breakfast walk, the nudge she'd give my arm at lunchtime when she wanted her biscuit, our afternoon rambles around the neighbourhood or through the woods, her sigh of contentment as she settled down to sleep beside my bed. It will take time before my sadness over her death no longer overshadows my happy memories of our life together. I know that eventually the art she inspired me to make will bring smiles instead of tears. The hole she left in my heart will heal but the mark she made on me is indelible.
"I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race; for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time?" - Sir Walter Scott
Goodbye Riley. Good dog.