November Nonsense – The Riley Files

It’s a perfect Friday night.

Catie’s farting and Mom’s drinking a hot buttered rum because it’s a gazillion degrees below zero outside (not that I care, mind you; I’m pretty tough) and she insists the cinnamon stick in the drink will help freshen the air.

Me? I’ve just finished shredding Mom’s new slippers that she wore three times since bringing them home. They have (had) all this fluffy stuff on the inside and suede on the outside and, besides, Mom won’t stop listening to Josh Groban. It’s a protest destruction. You see, Josh makes her cry but she listens to him anyways. She says it’s because he has such a beautiful voice. I don’t get it though – if something makes you cry like a baby why would you keep playing it?

Over and over and over again.

Go figure.

Catie’s doing well except for the unrelenting gas. I have to say – and remember I have super powerful old factory senses – she’s pretty stinky. Not sure what’s going on there. Everyone in the household has begged her to please stop.

Catie is oblivious to human entreaties and my barking. She thinks she can do whatever she wants now because she’s 7.

Just wait until I turn 6 next month!

The sudden cold weather has meant the Weather Channel is once again Mom’s favourite channel and it’s on pretty much 24/7. When Mom leaves for work in the morning she’s scary unrecognizable in a big ugly down-filled coat she keeps promising to replace, and she’s strangled under scarves and has the exact same look on her face she has right now listening to Josh.

You can see why I’m confused.

That’s it for now. Mom looks like she’s ready to turn in – it’s almost 9:30 PM (yes, bedtime gets earlier and earlier). Time to do my job and warm up the bed for her.


Disclaimer:  Even though Mom’s been a slacker about blogging, she wouldn’t have let me write any of this if it hadn’t been for the hot buttered rum. It’s true.

Giving birthday thanks

In the sleepy town of Redwater, Alberta – 30 minutes northeast of Edmonton – a litter of golden, jostling, joyful puppies was born on November 3, 2003 to Myvic Nobel Golden Buddy and Myvic My Chuchuk.

One of them was Lady Caitlin Galadriel.

And that would be our Catie.

This is a milestone of jubilant, unbelievable proportions. Back in January of this year, I didn’t think Catie would see another birthday. Truly, I didn’t. I cried a lot back then.

I am choked with gratitude today though, because here we are, almost nine months after a diagnosis of bone cancer and amputation, the three of us – Catie, Riley and me – as we should be. Catie and Riley, right now, smudge their noses with earnest curiosity against the window and watch the street lights timidly flicker and finally hold steady against the evening darkness.

I know they know it’s time for the hares to return. They spotted one just the other night, a mottled brown-and-white creature who brazenly taunted them from the flower bed in the front lawn. Its presence caused quite a brouhaha and I don’t know that I’ll ever get rid of all the barking spittle on the glass.

I just want to say I’m thankful for so many, many things right now.

I’m grateful for the friends I have on this site, even though I haven’t – yet – met any of them face-to-face. The genuine hearts and souls, rich with generosity and empathy, tears and laughter, are woven in and throughout every story of every journey of every Tripawd and their families.

There is simply – and I say this with the utmost sincerity – so much GOOD here.

I’m grateful for each day and each moment.

I’ve learned that from Catie and Riley.

I’m thankful for them.

Happy 7th birthday, dear Catie Caitlin. It’s time to party.

If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together.. there is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. but the most important thing is, even if we’re apart.. I’ll always be with you.

Winnie the Pooh

October Musings – The Riley Files

I’m not the type of dude who would ever reprimand my mom for anything, but – ahem – for anyone out there who might even vaguely remember Catie and me, I’d just like to say loud and clear: “WE’RE STILL HERE!!

Yes. It is true. There was another wedding in September and another stay at the doggie bed and breakfast. It was too brief a stay to plan a trip (I was thinking Alaska might be a nice change from Las Vegas). It was my brother’s turn to tie the knot this time.

Two weeks later mom cooked a turkey on Saturday and gazillions of people came over. Grandpa Rod was supposed to be here but he had to go to the hospital instead. He died the next morning, on Thanksgiving Sunday, October 10.

This meant that MORE people came to our house. Catie was beside herself. I was beside Catie. And Mom was beside EVERYBODY, cleaning and making meals and beds and doing laundry and giving and receiving many hugs. People we haven’t seen forever were here.

Like my oldest brother who came for Grandpa Rod’s memorial. Mom was soooo happy to be reunited with him, let me tell you. It was a sad day but a good day because even though people cried, there was much laughter too. People watched John Wayne movies in Grandpa Rod’s honour. People played the theme song from The Sons of Katie Elder and Moon River by Andy Williams and the greatest hits by The Ray Conniff Singers (we heard  Do you Know the Way to San Jose? so many times that Catie and I are indifferent now as to where the heck it is).

At one point during the memorial party I simply had to get away from it all. I discovered – as everyone knows my deductive powers are outstanding – late in the evening that there was a direct and indisputable correlation between the increase of wine consumption and the decibel levels of human voices.

Catie and I were tuckered out for days and days by all the attention and the tumult.

The bottom line is: I’m fine. Catie’s fine – and her whiskers have even finally come back. She just keeps hopping along. The world’s a little different for Mom and Dad and Grandma Ellen because Grandpa Rod is gone but we’re all going to be okay.

I just know it.

P.S. And special thanks to COMET for the PAWESOME header!

And P.S. to Lincoln:

Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever… Isak Dinesen

Eight Months

It was around this time last year Catie first started limping. We assumed the sporadic episodes were from a touch of arthritis, a sore muscle. In fact, for the longest time we thought the mysterious bouts of lameness originated from her left leg. It turned out the pain radiated from a tumour in the opposite shoulder.

Eight months ago today, Catie lost her right front leg and shoulder to osteosarcoma.

The time has gone so fast. She had her surgery on a white winter’s day. With Catie at the hospital, I sat with Riley at the livingroom window the evening of her surgery, watching the neighbourhood hares congregate on the front lawn.

I remember that well.

A lifetime ago, it seems. Some things remain the same; some have changed. The pads of her feet still make me think of popcorn; her ears are silky. She hates her nails being cut; she likes to tease her brother by taking his toy (they’re ALL his, by the way). She likes water and the dog park and snuggles in bed; she vehemently despises the mailman and people walking on the street (it’s HERS, by the way).

It’s just a little harder for her to get around. She’ll run if she’s inspired; she’s learned how to position herself to get in and out of corners and how to get up and down stairs. She still counter-surfs if no one’s looking and greets people at the door by jumping on them.

My gratitude this evening that she’s still here is tempered with sorrow for all those families who have lost their furry beloveds over the last eight months and those who are struggling with looming, too-soon departures.

Catie and Riley are having extra treats this evening for each and every one of you.

And Riley says, just in case it helps – and he admits stealing this from Walt Whitman:

Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.

Some Summer Nonsense – the Riley Files

I’m an ordinary dude. Patient and goodnatured, gentle and generous to a fault (excepting my ball), humble and accepting, from my muzzle to my paws. There are no sour grapes involved here (grapes aren’t good for dogs) but things have changed a little bit since Catie became a movie star.

She used to play some of the music I like. Now she’s obsessed with Ethel Merman, and George Gershwein and Rodgers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter and Andrew Lloyd Webber. It’s all about overtures and sweeping finales and songs about enchanted evenings and favourite things and spoonfuls of sugar. Don’t get me wrong. I love musicals as much as the next guy, but sometimes I like to switch it up to solid dude tunes too; like, when Mom’s not home and Dad puts on hardcore rock or plays some earsplitting guitar chords with the amplifiers on full blast.

But enough of that. It’s hard to believe it is already mid August. It’s been a busy summer. A wedding (which Catie and I didn’t get to attend). Lots of rain. Almost nightly thunderstorms. Endless reruns on television. Mosquitoes the size of my nose. An alarming yet mysterious bout of summertime diarrhea that had both Catie and me running to the door. A lot. And we didn’t always make it. A brief stay at a boarding hotel with a redbone coonhound who went into heat Catie and I were there and simply wouldn’t take no for an answer. I finally had to tell her about the surgery-that-cannot-be-named and that she was looking for love in all the wrong places.

Besides, my heart belongs elsewhere.

I know what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but a word to Comet: I’m working on getting a lawyer for the annulment as quickly as I can. It’s been a little tight around here since Mom took back her credit card and it’s turned out more difficult to get into the pawn shops with only one Jimmy Choo shoe than getting through customs – of course, wearing a “working dog harness” at the airport and pushing Catie through security in a wheelchair helped a lot.

And just so everyone knows, Catie might be a film goddess but Mom’s busy working on the next New York Times bestseller about ME and she’s calling it “S*it my dog says.”



August 13 2010

Turn up the music and pump your arms. Have an extra cookie and some ice cream or a whole lot of your treat of choice.

It’s Catie’s 7-MONTH ampuversary TODAY! And, oh, how far we’ve ALL come in seven months. We are ready to go to town and CELEBRATE!

I could have said them but Mark Doty said them too in Dog Years:

“We’re in the world, we’re breathing, we’re together.”

What more could you ask for?


Tummy update: Splats have dried up. My husband was off the hook for collecting the nasty specimen: the medications first constipated both Catie and Riley and by the time things got moving again, everything was normal.

They’re both back to their happy, barking, grass-eating, ball-chasing, ball-chewing, piano-playing, sun-basking, sniffing, snuffling selves.

P.S. On a human-related note, my 79-year old father had hip replacement surgery this morning. I visited him this afternoon and seeing him so vulnerable in the hospital bed, with the tubes and the catheter and in considerable discomfort, made me overwhelmingly sad. In my mind he’s still much younger than he looked today.

A better weekend maybe?

Ok. I have to say, on behalf of Catie and Riley, this has been a lousy week.

Tuesday. 3 AM. Wake up to the sound of Riley barking. In my stupor, I’m confused because it’s not the same bark he makes if someone’s on the street outside the house. I think: OMG, maybe it’s Catie. Run downstairs. He’s sitting by the back door, obviously wanting to go out. Bad. He has never, in five years, ever barked to be let outside.

He has several very urgent, very watery movements.

5:00 AM. More barking. More nasty stuff.

Tuesday PM Come home to a mess all over the floor. Riley is mortified. It’s boiled hamburger and rice time.

Wednesday. Makes it to 5 AM before he hollers. Come home to another mess. Poor guy.

Thursday. Same deal except now Catie’s got the nasties too.

Friday. Riley’s not much better; to add to it all, Catie’s thrown up a couple of times. Off to the vet to get checked. Homeward bound minus $210. (small change compared to other veterinary expenditures this year) and some medications: something to coat their stomachs and some antibiotics and instructions to collect a stool sample from one or the other and bring back to check for parasites. This is definitely a task on hubby’s to-do list.

On a positive note, however, because Catie shares the same miserable symptoms as Riley, this bout of illness can’t be because of the cancer.

Here’s hoping they both start feeling better soon.

Home again


I’ve had my fingers poised over this keyboard many, many times over the last week. I think too much has happened over the last while for me to form a coherent thought so I’m just going to say that Catie and Riley survived their stay at the doggie hotel while we were in Cuba for my daughter’s wedding, which – by the way – was spectacularly beautiful. Cuba, however – ahem – well,  except for the glorious waters and the white sand on the beach and the tropical landscape, that country needs a significant overhaul despite the rhetoric of the “triumph of the revolution.” I personally didn’t see a lot of evidence of triumph. If you were to judge Cuba by the vintage American cars on the road, you’d think you’d been transported back to the 1950s; Cubans apparently have never heard of 2-ply toilet paper and the 1-ply is severely rationed; the blow-dryers in the hotel rooms had scary vacuum-cleaner-like hoses; and let’s not even talk about going through security at the airport…BUT the wedding was amazing and in my objective opinion my daughter was stunningly beautiful. Sorry… I couldn’t resist adding these.

And of course, then there were the beautiful children I had to board for a week.

They are very happy we’re home.