When I first met River, she was a wild and very out of control Border Collie. Her first couple of years on this planet were spent chained up with an occasional trip off leash. She had never been socialized around other dogs and it seemed pretty clear that she had an appointment with death were I not to intervene. Against my better judgment, I took on the challenge of rehabilitating this very troubled animal. That was June of 2002 and the first few weeks were pretty rough. Eventually she came around and the life that had been bottled up inside her began to emerge.
She went on to live 8 more years, her life cut short by a very brutal case of cancer, cancer that had spread quickly throughout her body. I missed the signs but it probably wouldn't have mattered. You see, when cancer comes to the lymph nodes, there just isn't much that can be done. She lasted one week after diagnosis and it was probably the most painful time of my life. Seeing her in this state broke my heart like nothing has broken my heart before.
The day she died, eleven weeks ago today, was one that I will never and ever forget. It was clear from the moment I woke up that this was the end. All these weeks later, I finally realize that ending her pain and misery was the right thing to do. Seeing her suffer just was to much to bear, for me and for her. River, from the day she came to me, lived life to the fullest and each day was an adventure that was to be savored. Not being able to live was not fair to her.
Today, I did what I do every Thursday, I told her that I loved her and would never forget her. Tomorrow, I will do my best to honor her memory by welcoming a new life into my home. I will never be able to replace her, just like I have never been able to replace my childhood dogs. That isn't possible and I wouldn't dare try to find another "River." But, I can do the next best thing and that is to save one more life, a life that has promise and potential.
Scout, a 10 month old mutt, has already had a pretty rough life. You can see it in his eyes and emotions. He is afraid of what's out there and isn't sure that he can trust anyone again. Tomorrow I go about building that trust and earning what I hope is a lifetime of love and devotion. Tomorrow I go about giving life back to a creature who has never asked for anything but love and affection. River would love him, of that I'm sure, and I have no doubt that my pretty girl will be smiling down at me when I welcome this new friend into the family.
He won't be you River, no dog could ever be you, but he will be his own self and of that I certain. I miss you so much River but I also know that I did right by you. This is the best way I know to keep your memory alive. You will forever be with me and till we meet again, know that I love you. Tomorrow I will start to love a new life and that makes me happy. Welcome home Scout, you've hit the jackpot.