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  • Writer's pictureWendy Sura Thomson

My Dog Is Failing

My dear Riley Ruaidh McFunk is ailing. I knew it was inevitable. He was born September 11, 2006: it was only a matter of time. Every morning I celebrated the fact that he was eager to get his morning treat. I celebrated the fact that he could still slow-gallop to the fence gate to see what was going on. My dear, dear old man.

Riley came to be family because of a baby squirrel. My younger son was still in high school - he has since graduated college, moved to San Francisco, moved to Connecticut, got married, moved to Colorado, had a son. and is expecting another. It was quite a while ago. My son went to a prep school with a college-like campus. One day a hawk swooped down and grabbed a foraging squirrel. The next day there were two baby squirrels looking for their mother. The science teacher took one, and my son brought the other one home. We bought a cage and researched feeding this cute baby. My son was totally in love with his Ron Burgundy, who treated my son as his own tree, even hiding in his pants pocket. He seemed to be thriving. However, my older son was a college football player, and he had a home game. I went to all home games but one, even though school was 422 miles away. I didn't hear the first phone call for the roar of the crowd over a touchdown. I did hear the second. Ron was having seizures. My son was beside himself. Ron did not make it through the night.

I felt terrible not being there. My son was inconsolable. I asked if he wanted a puppy, and he said no. He said no, at first, but after a week or two he changed his mind. Time was of the essence but I knew it had to be an Irish Setter. I found one available in Minnesota. My dad, my son and I headed to the football game, and the next morning we woke early and headed from the Upper Peninsula across to Wisconsin, over the Mississippi River, and ended up at the farm of Kevin Thomas Funk. On that sunny November morning a gaggle of sleepy puppies tumbled out of the barn, squinting in the bright sun. I was fond of a shy little girl, but my son wanted the biggest, most rambunctious puppy of the lot. And that's how Riley came to us.

Fond memories. Now, as the sun sits very low in the sky of his life, I remember. I get teary-eyed even as I smile at good memories. Rest easy today, Riley. Maybe by this evening you will feel better. Maybe you will once again eagerly want your morning treat, as you did yesterday. Maybe you will once again gallop to see the dog walking down the street. Until then, dear sweet boy, rest easy.

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