The Bad News We Didn’t Want to Hear…

The bad news we didn't want to hear... | Not Dressed As Lamb

This was a post I really hoped I wouldn’t have to write. It’s the bad news we didn’t want to hear.

In Monday’s post I mentioned briefly that we’d had a tough weekend with Riley being unwell and that we had to call the emergency vet. Several trips to the vets this week and one investigatory test later, we’ve been given the results and it seems that our boy is not well, and he isn’t going to get any better.

=big deep breath=

That was how far I’d got writing this post without sobbing so I’ll try to keep this short. He’s an old boy – nearly 13 (roughly) – and we only got him last March as he used to live with a good friend who wasn’t able to give him the time and attention he deserved. We knew he was old and we knew we might not have him for very long, but it doesn’t make it any easier when you hear that the dog who’s been healthy his whole life is then given a diagnosis of a malignant tumour. I know this is silly, but I can’t help feeling like we’ve let him down as well as letting down his other mum who had him for most of his life.

Basically we have a few options – surgery being one (too invasive and he may not pull through or may end up more ill than he is now), and chemotherapy being another (like surgery it may not be that effective, and we couldn’t put an old boy through that). So our third option is the one we’ll take – put him on painkillers all the time he’s not suffering, but the second he’s not coping then of course we’ll have to let him go.

Right now he’s loads better, and considering how unwell he was at the weekend that’s a huge relief. Keith and I have camped downstairs with him all this week so he’s not on his own at night and doesn’t have to try and get up the stairs to sleep near us, and we think it’s calmed him. It might explain why he’s been so clingy for quite a few weeks now – it’s almost as if he knew something was wrong and he just didn’t want to leave our sides. Right now I can’t go upstairs to the bathroom for two minutes without him getting agitated and wondering where I’ve gone… it’s breaking my heart.

It’s breaking OUR hearts. Keith is absolutely devastated, as am I.

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I know this is something that so many people go through, but it’s true when they say that pets really are part of the family. We’ve barely had Riley for a year but the whole family absolutely adore him. He keeps me company while I’m working at home despite sleeping 90% of the time. He’s a Saluki mix and they’re known for being somewhat aloof – he won’t look you in the eye and acts kinda snooty while you’re stroking him – but as soon as you stop he’ll jab you hard with his paw as if to say, “For goodness sake why did you stop?! Carry on stroking me!” Plus he barks at you for attention even though he’s being cuddled and stroked by someone else, all because you’re nearby and could potentially be giving him some love too.

For a dog that’s incredibly lazy (sighthounds are known for their ability to sleep all day, ironic considering they’re super fast) and doesn’t really do anything, he sure does entertain us. He doesn’t chase balls or sticks, he often has no interest in other dogs or even running anywhere at all. (To get him to move on our walks I often have to put him ON his lead, otherwise he just stands still.) I’ve had delivery guys delivering several big boxes of furniture past him and he didn’t even lift his head up off his bed.


And for all the posts I’ve ever read by bloggers saying goodbye to a pet, I get it. It’s utterly heartbreaking. But we’re going to make whatever time he has left the best it can possibly be.


The reason we fell in love with Riley was because every time we saw him at our friend’s house he’d come up to us and stand in front of our legs (he’s a BIG dog) and lean against you for some love and attention. He leans on you so much he falls over if you move your feet away. He does this with everyone – even total strangers – so to say he’s an endearing dog is the understatement of the century.

So at the moment we’re simply monitoring him. We have no idea how long he has. But we know exactly what to look out for now, and the second he’s not well again or is in any kind of pain (that the painkillers can’t take care of) we’ll be onto the vet straight away. And for all the posts I’ve ever read by bloggers saying goodbye to a pet, I get it. It’s utterly heartbreaking. But we’re going to make whatever time he has left the best it can possibly be, and shower him with all the love and attention he could ever want.

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Therefore we may be sleeping downstairs for a while yet, but you know what? I’m happy to do that, as is Keith. Whatever he wants, he’ll get it. Because he’s still our hilarious, fussy-eating, lazy, dopey, aloof, doe-eyed, loving, attention-seeking, silky-soft, long-legged, gentle (and genteel) giant.

I wanted to thank everyone that sent get well soon messages this week where Riley was concerned, and I’m sorry this is such a sad post and that the news wasn’t good news. To everyone with their own furball: hug them a little tighter this weekend, won’t you.



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  1. February 27, 2018 / 3:15 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear this Catherine, your time with him sounds like it has been full of love and you have given him a great home. He sounds like a special character, my Mom lost her poodle last year who was also a quirky one, we also had a greyhound for a time and I also remember her “leans” so well, such a comforting and sweet trait from these types of dogs. Enjoy your time with him and wishing you both much strength. xo

  2. February 22, 2018 / 8:51 pm

    Ooh, I missed this post in my travels! I’m so sorry to hear this sad news about Riley. I can see how he’s meshed into the family 100% even though it’s been a short time. My boy Caleb will be 15 next month, and like Riley, is on painkillers and anti-inflammatories all the time to just let him maintain a very quiet lifestyle…and he has better days and worse days, and on the worse ones I get so scared that that’s going to be it and, like you, as soon as I see that I can’t keep him comfortable, that will be it. And it will be beyond heartbreaking as other than work (and even sometimes there), he has been my almost constant companion, everywhere I went. He saw me through my divorce, my daughter leaving for college and then moving 1000 miles away, living alone and moving several times, through two bad breakups…sigh. And he’s always been my sweet gentle loving boy. I can’t imagine my life and days without him. So I can really understand how you’re feeling right now 🙁 I hope the rest of his days are easy. xoxo


  3. Liz
    February 21, 2018 / 5:14 pm

    I’m so sorry Catherine about Riley. It’s never easy when someone we love is sick and in pain. Treasure the time you have left together. *hugs*

  4. February 21, 2018 / 7:01 am

    Poor you and poor old Riley. Our pets truly are members of our family and it’s not easy when they get ill. Our dog has been ill too recently and my husband got up in the night to sit with him as he was so poorly. The vet prescribed anitbiotics and much to our relief he’s turned a corner now. I know you’ll be treasuring every moment with him and can only wish you all the best with his care. Be strong.
    Anna x

  5. February 20, 2018 / 11:28 am

    Oh Catherine, I know you told us this news last week, it’s still very hard to read it. I am so sorry for you and Keith and of course, for his previous mum. You are doing a wonderful job and I know you will both do exactly what is roght for him. I have never had a dog, but I have had cats and been heartbroken when they have passed away or gotten lost. And please, don’t feel the need to reply to this. You have so much on your plate right now. Lots of love xxx

  6. February 20, 2018 / 4:08 am

    So sorry to hear this news, Catherine. No words. So sad. Hugs to all.

  7. Myanna
    February 20, 2018 / 12:19 am

    I’ve been enjoying your blog for a while now, but this is my first comment. I just wanted to express my deep sympathy, as I lost my 16 year old dog Ragnar last summer, and still miss her! Even when it’s very much expected, it’s still very hard.

  8. February 19, 2018 / 7:15 pm

    Sending hugs to you both and Riley. We also have a big dog that might not look at you, but will happily lean against you for attention! I don’t know what else to say really except that it’s lovely that you have each other for the time that you do and there’s no doubt he appreciates that. xxx

  9. February 19, 2018 / 3:51 pm

    Oh no, I am sorry to hear this news. Animals are the biggest joy yet the saddest goodbyes because they are the most unconditionally loving creatures.

  10. February 19, 2018 / 11:26 am

    Sending you a huge hug Catherine – it’s the worst thing isn’t it. I said good bye to my beloved Jack Russell 18 months ago, although it was the best decision for her I miss her so much. I treasure her daughter Roxy who is still with us, really making a fuss of her, more than the kids sometimes!
    I hope things aren’t too hard for you. xx Jacqui

  11. Chocolate
    February 19, 2018 / 10:54 am

    I feel your pain. My dog is almost 12 years old and has a brain tumor. We have been dealing with seizures for almost 2 years and is plain awful every time( she sleeps in our bedroom now) The doctor says she doesn’t suffer during the seizures, so that’s a bit of a relief. Every day we have with her is a gift, so I spoil her, thank her everyday for all the love she has given me all these years and kiss her goodnight, just in case. I’m sure Riley knows you love him and he loves you back; that’s all that matters. You have the right to be upset and cry; he’s family!

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