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Riley

February 7, 2018

The "first born" of my three. When I was 18 I used to hangout in the library at college with a friend. Our favorite thing to do was watch videos of Jenna Marbles. If you don't know who Jenna is, she's a Youtuber who makes some great videos! I came across a video of her when she got her Italian Greyhound, Kermit.

 

I had never heard of Italian Greyhounds before this. I had seen big Greyhounds and couldn't believe there was such a tiny breed! Greyhounds are a sort of special animal in my family. My grandpa, a wonderful man, died before I was born. He used to breed and train Greyhounds. My grandma and mom made sure there was a Greyhound etched onto his headstone where he was buried.

 

I started to research the breed and discovered they had the most wonderful personalities. Most people describe them as cat-like toddlers who are velcro. In fact, one of the popular nicknames for the breed is, "velcro dog". I was obsessed but unfortunately there are hardly any Italian Greyhound breeders in the Midwest. Even worse, they're incredibly expensive and I didn't have the money. 

 

One day I was browsing through rescue center photos and saw him! It was a three hour drive from where I lived but I knew he was going to be mine. I made the call and told them to wait for me. When I arrived, I found out he had a brother. His brother's leg was broken or I totally would have taken both of them! The lady at the rescue center told me he hadn't come from a good place. It was a breeder who dumped them off because they were runts and now four months old. 

 

On the way home, I couldn't decide on a name. I had no idea who he was going to be. I love to name animals based on their personality. He was sleeping in my lap when I started talking to him. I went through several names asking if he liked them. When I got to "Riley" he perked up and wagged his little tail. He chose his own name. It suits him perfectly.

 

It was only 11 hours after I had brought him home that he had broken his leg. I had been warned so many times that Italian Greyhounds were fragile. He didn't fall or even stumble. I had a really old couch that couldn't have been more than 6 inches from the floor. He stepped off and let out the most heartbreaking screech I have ever heard. I had no idea how I was going to pay for these vet bills.

 

Luckily, I had just started camming. I had some very kind fans who helped contribute towards vet bills and I even dug into my college savings. I couldn't bear the idea of this little guy losing his leg at such a young age. Of course, I felt directly responsible. Thinking back, I'm almost sure that he might have fractured it before ever bringing him home. The way he behaved had me wondering if the breeder he came from had abused him. 

 

My local vets didn't have any experience or proper equipment to treat a fragile puppy with a broken leg. They wanted to amputate because they weren't confident that it would ever heal properly. I cried and I cried until I couldn't cry anymore. Animals are definitely one of my greatest weaknesses. I refused to amputate so they recommended some specialists who were over three hours away again. 

 

Riley had a temporary cast over the weekend and pain medication. I took him everywhere with me and never left him alone. If I had to go to school or work my mom would care for him. The specialists would take x-rays and give me an estimate on Monday. I would then have to prepare him for surgery. They were going to insert a titanium plate to bond the broken bones in his wrist together. 

 

The next six months were crazy. They had advised little to no activity so it would heal as best as it could. We were an inseparable duo. I had a makeshift sling I would carry him around in. It was rare if he wasn't cuddled to me. Just when everything was looking good it suddenly got worse. He seemed to have developed an infection and his body was rejecting the plate. The specialists told me it was still possible he might lose his leg. The only option we had to save it was removing the plate and cast. 

 

Without the protection of his cast he was even more fragile. I had to be diligent in keeping him clean, dry, and inactive. It took 9 full months to heal and several more to recover some of the strength in his muscles. It felt like I had just went through some kind of odd pregnancy. I had this little being attached to me the whole time and now he was his own little personality!

 

His leg recovered beautifully. Watching him run warms my heart. It sounds bizarre but Riley has been a huge part of my life. He has been an emotional support that I never expected. I don't know who needs who more, but I think it's me. I know I can't stand the idea of ever losing my best friend. 

 

 

 

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