My First “Baby”

I used to have a corgi. Riley. The best dog ever.

Riley on my lap in 2006.

Riley was my thirteenth birthday present. My family was about to move to a new state when we got him, and there was a while where I felt like he was my only friend in the whole world.

1996. He was a little fuzzball.

He came with me when I went to college and likewise when we got married. Although,  admittedly, Riley spent a long while resenting Hubs’ presence. Obviously, he was a major competitor for my attention.

Around Christmas of 2007, when Riley was not quite 12 years old, he was suddenly unable to walk. After agonizing visits with a canine neurologist, we learned that what we had thought was arthritis developing in his back legs was actually the first signs of a progressive spinal cord disease, common in corgis, called degenerative myelopathy. He was without the use of his back legs, but still was very sharp and didn’t seem to be in pain.

2008. Coping.

For two years, we literally carried this 50 lb corgi. I can tell you, it was an often frustrating, heartbreaking time – but after all the amazing years he had given me, it was the least I could do. Finally, the disease progressed to the point where it was time to let go.

Two years ago today, we said goodbye to Riley.

That means that either tomorrow or the day after (it’s a little blurry) marks two years since our decision to start trying for a baby. Maybe that’s a little bit of a strange leap, and let me clarify that it wasn’t a matter of thinking I might replace my dog with a baby. The thing is that we had felt ready (intimidated, but ready) for a while before that point. Taking care of Riley during his illness, though, was physically, logistically, financially, emotionally demanding, and we didn’t want to attempt both at once.

It’s a sentimental thing for me to reflect on, for sure. I still miss my sweet little bear. I doubt I’ll ever feel the same way about another dog.

I prefer to remember him like this.


3 thoughts on “My First “Baby”

  1. Aww, I remember Riley. I remember that night we snuck out and then when we came back, all the dogs were barking at us, including Riley. And I remember when you and B. came to visit on us on Fort Hood and Riley barked whenever we left the room because he had abandonment issues, which seemed reasonable to me because he could not walk.

    He was a very good dog.

  2. Riley was so cute as a puppy and so handsome as a grown-up dog! I’m so sorry for the loss of him – I read this last night on my phone in bed and started to tear up. You did such a good job taking care of him as long as you could. I love my dogs and dread facing what you had to with Riley, though I know I will have to.


  3. That’s a good dog (and a good-looking dog!). And you were an awesome Mama to him. What a bittersweet memory… here’s to the all those happy times 🙂

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