In 2008, I adopted my very first dog from the Franklin County Dog Shelter. Her name was Riley (formerly Betsy), a teensy seven-week-old Beagle Shepherd mix who pawed, cried, and gnawed her way from inside her kennel and into my heart. As someone who wasn’t fortunate enough to have pets growing up, you can imagine how unprepared I was for the journey I was about to embark on. Oddly enough, a void I didn’t know existed at the time was immediately filled by this four-legged critter. Over the course of 8 years, Riley became the heart beat next to my feet. She grew accustomed to my constant baby talk and I to her relentless mewling that only went silent the second a leash from the palm of my hand was revealed – a sign that adventurous walks on endless fields of green grass and car rides while hanging her head from the backseat car window were to be had.
It wasn’t until 7 months ago that our journey together came to an unforeseeable end when the unimaginable happened.
Riley managed to get loose from our yard and was struck by a car.
The feeling of numbness immediately consumed me when I found her body tucked beside the post of our mailbox. I knew right then and there that a chunk of me had gone with her and there wasn’t anything I could’ve done to bring her back.
I remember pacing back and forth in distraught as my wife tried to console me. We gently placed a blanket over her, reached down and caressed her little paws for the last time as we cried together. That was that. The only thing that crossed my mind during the moment was no matter how many times I was told that having a dog was the best thing ever, I was never prepared for that feeling of losing one; losing a companion.
Author, Garth Stein once said, “The dog doesn’t become a part of your family, but instead, your family becomes a part of the dog.”
The best thing we can do for dogs is to provide them with a home and an opportunity to live an enriching life. When we give dogs a sense of purpose, we truly become a part of them. A dog is the only thing on Earth that will love you more than he loves himself. When Riley left us and headed towards the Rainbow Bridge and into the meadows, I only hoped that she knew we loved her as much as our hearts could possibly love another and that she was the perfect companion we could’ve asked for. Maybe one day we’ll be able to tell her ourselves.
Tragically, an estimated 3.3 million dogs end up in animal shelters each year and about half are adopted. So in honor of Riley’s life, WithOneLine’s mission will be to help bring awareness to adoptable dogs (just like herself) and to help end the stigma that a lot of these shelter dogs are faced with.
Each month, WithOneLine is committed to donating portion of sales to animal shelters and wildlife conservation.
I believe with one line, we can help save one life at a time.