A Tribute to Our Lurcher Riley, 2005-2019

Not Dressed As Lamb and Riley the lurcher

I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face, wondering how on earth I’m going to get through writing this post.

It has, in fact, taken me all week to get it written. I’ve come to write it nearly every day and just found it too hard.

You may have seen on my Instagram that on Thursday of last week we said goodbye to our beloved lurcher Riley as he was put peacefully to sleep in his bed at home with Keith and I holding him. It’s taken me till now to summon up the strength to write this post.

I’ve struggled writing this, and it’s now over a week since we said goodbye to our boy and to be honest the pain isn’t any less than what it was last week… in fact it’s increased somewhat.

I’ll apologise now for no link ups or other posts this week, for any errors and grammatical mistakes I might make, and for the deluge of photos in this post (it’s photo-heavy). It’s my tribute to our gorgeous, gentle boy and all the love that he brought into our lives.

I know it’s very self-indulgent of me, but it’s one I want to write now to then look back on in the future when it hopefully doesn’t hurt as much.

These are all the things I want to remember about Riley. This is what he meant to me… to us.

 

Riley the lurcher - saluki/border collie cross

The impact Riley had on our lives

Riley was my/our first and only pet as an adult (we had a family dog when I was young, but other than that I’ve not personally owned a dog before, and neither has Keith). As parents of a dog and no children, he really did make us a family and was absolutely part of the extended family. We were a solid threesome, and I’d often talk about “my boys”.

My parents loved him. Kids loved him. He was the sweetest, most gentle soul I have ever known in my life, and I miss him with all my heart.

Despite his ageing years, we adopted him at the beginning of 2017. I fell in love with him hook, line and sinker because he was, effectively, a canine version of Keith. Silver-haired, long-legged, slept at every opportunity, and the most relaxed, chilled character ever. The two of them were two peas in a pod and absolutely inseparable.

Riley turned Keith – a self-confessed Cat Person – into the biggest dog lover you’ve ever known. That’s the effect he had on people. Keith even started Riley’s own Instagram account.

What happened was that Riley decided we came as a set. He didn’t favour one of us over the other, and he wasn’t completely settled and content unless we were both with him, whether that was out walking or just pottering about at home. If one of us was giving him strokes and attention in the evening, he’d still woof at the other one if they were upstairs doing something.

It had to be both of us. Every time.

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But at the beginning of 2018 the unthinkable happened: Riley was diagnosed with bowel cancer, and we had to decide what to do. We decided he was too old to be operated on – he might not pull through at his age (12 by that point) – so we kept him as well and pain-free as we could on painkillers and lots of love.

In the end, he effectively beat cancer for a total of 16 months (or more, depending on how long the tumour had been there before it was discovered). We took him for regular checkups and although it was still there, it never really got that much bigger or affected him too badly.

The vet called him her “miracle boy”.

However, due to his age he had bad arthritis in his legs as well as cataracts and although he relished his long, slow walks and loved his food, it was clear in the last few weeks he was really slowing down. In the days running up to us deciding that it wasn’t fair to keep him going any longer, you could tell he’d decided he’d had enough. He couldn’t have left us any more peacefully and the vet and the nurse came to our house and were absolutely wonderful and truly compassionate.

 

The grief of losing a pet

The first few days were incredibly hard. And they just got harder as the week went on: yesterday (Thursday) was a week after we lost him, and I had my worst day. Working from home and being alone (though I didn’t do any actual work), I spent the day curled up on the sofa in tears. I only found comfort in looking at pictures of him and watching videos: I couldn’t help but smile at him, and it eased the pain a little.

It’s hard to break the habits you develop when owning a pet. We both still quickly go to turn the volume down on the TV when a loud bit comes on. I still find it hard to stay upstairs too long without feeling I need to go down and give the boy some love. I still pop to the shops and feel like I’ve left him alone too long and need to get back as soon as possible. I still look at my watch and think I need to get his lunch if it’s near that time of day. I still put the clean plates away from the dishwasher as quietly as possible so as not to wake him.

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When you do those things you forget for a split second that they’re no longer with you.

I just can’t break these habits, and neither can Keith. I just can’t get used to him not being around. The sadness I feel all the time is overwhelming.

But this morning I went for my daily walk up the hill, and this time I sat at the top and listened to the birds singing and the wind in the trees and gave myself a quiet talking to. I decided that yesterday was my bad day, and I wasn’t going to have any more bad days if I can help it. We’ve already said that we’re going to honour him (I know it sounds weird but I’m sure you’ll get what I mean) by getting lots of sleep (that we weren’t getting before because of his unsettled nights), doing lots of exercise and eating lots of healthy food because we can.

We put so much on hold before – and were more than happy and willing to do so for our lovely boy – but now we have to look after ourselves and look after our health.

So my thought today was, No more bad days – just sad days.

Riley the Lurcher 2005-2019

I’ll sign this off by listing all the things I miss about our beautiful boy. I never want to forget ANY of these things, because in time you forget the small things. Even if you don’t blog, if you lose a pet I can thoroughly recommend writing this list because it’s those small things that make your boy or girl utterly unique.

Thanks for reading this post… I’ll hopefully have happier things to share next week.

Love forever to you Riley, your mum (and of course dad too)

Catherine signature

 

I’ll miss you, Riley

The dog that wasn’t like other dogs…

I’ll miss your big, expressive eyes.
I’ll miss you standing across our legs and leaning against us with your whole weight while we petted you.
I’ll miss the feel of your white chest hair.
I’ll miss you barking impatiently at Keith while he’s getting your dinner.
I’ll miss being fascinated by your white eyelashes.
I’ll miss you rolling around on your back in the garden and woofing because you were loving life.
I’ll miss you whining while you were “thinking out loud”.
I’ll miss putting a blanket on you in winter and a fan on you in summer.
I’ll miss the sound of your claws clacking across the floor.
I’ll miss you pawing me and looking at me with daggers when I stopped stroking you, otherwise known as The Paw of More.
I’ll miss you pausing and the face you made before you gave yourself a shake.
I’ll miss you making us laugh every single day despite doing almost nothing at all.
I’ll miss you smiling in your sleep.
I’ll miss the sound of you flapping your ears violently.
I’ll miss your noisy drinking.
I’ll miss you standing right in front of me as soon as Keith started taking my outfit shots.
I’ll miss you insisting on walking between us when we both took you for a walk.
I’ll miss you getting up off your bed excitedly when Keith came in from work every night.
I’ll miss you pretending to ignore me when I returned after days away working.
I’ll miss my daily face sniff.
I’ll miss you barking for me in the evening when I was upstairs even though Keith was right next to you giving you attention.
I’ll miss your “horse dressage” routine when we were getting ready to go for a walk.
I’ll miss your lovely non-doggy smell.
I’ll miss you being so gentlemanly and polite.
I’ll miss you disdainfully ignoring any dog that barked at you.
I’ll miss you impatiently barking at the back door to be let out only to turn around and walk back into the house once the door was opened (and affectionately calling you a little bugger).
I’ll miss the feel of your paws when holding them.
I’ll miss you drooling buckets when you ate treats.
I’ll miss you being so utterly, utterly gentle with children and letting them hug and stroke you.
I’ll miss you getting in the way when I’m trying to put my shoes on before a walk.
I’ll miss the way you’d sleep with your legs in a tangled mess of long limbs.
I’ll miss you stopping to sniff every single clump of grass and weeds when out walking, otherwise known as “going on a sniffari”.
I’ll miss you backing your bum into my face if I was sitting on the floor to tell me to give you a good rub and a scratch.
I’ll miss walking in front of you to shade your eyes from the glaring sun when out for a walk.
I’ll miss your licky-licky-chop-chops.
I’ll miss you enjoying all the attention from me then getting up and walking off as soon as Keith came over to give you love as well.
I’ll miss you thinking that anyone putting their coat on meant you were going for a walk.
I’ll miss just how gently you ate treats from our hands and never once hurting us.
I’ll miss the side-eye and whining you’d give me if I hadn’t petted you in the last 30 minutes.
I’ll miss you lying prostrate on the floor in the most inconvenient, in-the-way spot at other people’s houses or in a café.
I’ll miss brushing your long fluffy tail.
I’ll miss you knowing exactly where and which way you wanted to walk – and for how long – each day.
I’ll miss you dreaming and running in your sleep.
I’ll miss kids pointing at you and saying “Mum, dad, look at that big dog!”.
I’ll miss telling kids that “he’s very, very gentle if you want to pet him”.
I’ll miss you sticking your head through the downstairs loo door and looking at me when I was having a wee just before going for a walk.
I’ll miss you sleeping on your bed with most of your body actually on the floor.
I’ll miss you purposely headbutting me in the bum when I was putting on my shoes for a walk.
I’ll miss lying on your bed next to you and you staring into my eyes.
I’ll miss you insisting on walking down the middle of the road instead of on the pavement.
I’ll miss your funny, quiet “woof woof, woof woof” when you were dreaming.
I’ll miss you dropping a snack only for you to look at it waiting for me to pick it up and feed it to you again.
I’ll miss the excitable teeth chatters before a walk.
I’ll miss giving you a gentle nose boop every day.
I’ll miss the fact that you’d stop in the driveway with Keith and not budge till I joined you if I didn’t have time for a walk with the two of you that day.
I’ll miss your big stretches and being amazed at how long your legs (speed sticks) were.
I’ll miss you gently lying down on the grass or your bed then flopping down on your side very suddenly.
I’ll miss playing ‘Riley tennis’ with you and Keith.
I’ll miss you sticking your head over your car hammock between the car seats so you could be as close as possible to us.
I’ll miss the way you walked like a supermodel with one foot crossing in front of the other.
I’ll miss taking you for a walk and being stopped by several people every time to say how beautiful you were.
I’ll miss you always walking over and standing next to me when I’m on the sofa demanding attention before getting on your bed.
I’ll miss you having a sleep outside on the grass even in the winter.
I’ll miss you ignoring most dogs and going straight up to strangers and demanding attention from them instead.
I’ll miss you sleeping for six hours straight in the day and then getting up for a wee four times in the night.
I’ll miss sleeping downstairs with you through the night to keep you from being lonely.
I’ll miss you totally ignoring every command ever given to you or even your name being called.
I’ll miss the way you were a total food snob and carefully sniffed your food before starting to eat it.
I’ll miss rubbing your head gently when you stood next to us.
I’ll miss you walking up and down the garden 20 times before finally doing a wee at 3 in the morning.
I’ll miss us making contented growls back and forth with each other while you were lying on your bed.
I’ll miss getting excited on the very rare occasion you wagged your tail because you never wagged your tail.
I’ll miss the fact that you were only ever truly happy here at home with the both of us here.

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But I can gladly say I’ll never have to miss the fact that we didn’t give you a loving, safe home and every comfort you could have ever wanted. We did all of those things – and more – and loved every single second of it.

Rest in peace, my beautiful boy.

Riley the Lurcher 2005-2019

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Riley the Lurcher 2005-2019
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Riley the Lurcher 2005-2019
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127 Comments

  1. Stu Masterton
    September 12, 2019 / 4:31 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful dog! I hope by now you can remember him with smiles and fondness instead of that awful wrench of loss!

  2. Vicky Fosco
    July 15, 2019 / 9:40 pm

    I have so enjoyed seeing Riley in your blog. He will be missed by all of us who love dogs. You and Keith should take care of yourselves in tribute to him. We have loved and lost and loved again because of the first one. I hope you will as well.

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 16, 2019 / 9:33 am

      Oh Vicky that’s so kind of you, thank you… we’re going to take our time and we’ll know as and when the time is right to get another fur ball x

  3. July 10, 2019 / 11:20 pm

    Such a lovely tribute to a well-loved boy. You will feel him with you and in your heart forever.

    I still miss my boy so much and it’s been more than a year 🙁 Losing them is life-changing.

    Hugs to you and Keith.

    xoxo Bettye

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 12, 2019 / 1:24 pm

      Thank you so much Bettye – you’re right, they ARE life-changing. In the very best way possible 🙂

  4. July 10, 2019 / 10:04 am

    I have tears in my eyes just reading this, Catherine. I’m so sorry for you both. It really is heartbreaking to lose such a dear member of the family and he clearly was incredibly loved. It takes time but you will, eventually, stop crying and whenever you think of Riley, you will smile and your heart will fill with love.
    Those close up photos of you, Keith and Riley are just beautiful.
    Huge hugs
    Suzy <3 <3

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 10, 2019 / 12:31 pm

      Thank you so much lovely Suzy – we’re finding it very tough at the moment but I’m sure, as you say, it’ll get easier and the tears will be less frequent in time. Thank you for the hugs, sending love back xx

  5. Michelle Springer
    July 10, 2019 / 12:02 am

    Oh Catherine… I’m just reading this now and crying at work (I actually just had someone ask if I was ok)! I am so, so sorry about for the loss of sweet Riley. I always loved seeing him pose with you, and just be his adorable doggie self. It’s been over two years since I lost my furry man Simon (he was a great ginger cat) and I still find myself frequently looking out where he’s buried and talking to him. They always take a big piece of our hearts with them. 🙁

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 10, 2019 / 12:29 pm

      Oh gosh Michelle I’m sorry to make you cry at work! I’ll miss him posing with me, he seemed to be drawn to me like a magnet as soon as Keith got the camera out… he was such a poser. Thank you for the kind words, and I’m sorry about you losing Simon: I’m sure I’ll also continue to talk to Riley and say goodnight to him every night xx

  6. July 9, 2019 / 7:03 pm

    I’m crying just trying to get through reading this post, so I can’t even imagine how hard it was to write it. Dogs are definitely a part of the family and it’s so hard when you have to say goodbye. We went through this about seven years ago with our first Springer Spaniel, Miles and it’s still painful to think about. Thanks for sharing all of your lovely memories about Riley.

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 10, 2019 / 12:27 pm

      Oh Katie I’m sorry to make you cry… I’m finding it hard to reply to these messages without crying! Thank you so much for the kind words, I’m glad you liked the photos and memories xx

  7. July 9, 2019 / 3:56 pm

    Catherine,
    I am so sorry to hear about your pup Riley. I know how much our pups mean and what they bring to our lives. They are pure joy. Again, so sorry. I loved the photos
    jess xx

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 10, 2019 / 12:26 pm

      Thank you Jess – I know how much your furballs mean to you. Sending love back, thank you again xx

  8. JAM
    July 8, 2019 / 11:04 pm

    Grieve. Riley will live on in your hearts, and though it seems impossible now, he will make room for another 4 legged bff to come into your life. I know, Maggie left us, and a year and some later, Maxine entered.

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 10, 2019 / 12:25 pm

      Thank you Jam – we’re not making any decisions now, we’re just going to not think about getting another dog for a bit, then go on the holidays we’ve put on hold for a while, then we’ll know as and when the time is right whether we want to get another dog. I kind of hope we do, we weren’t looking to get a dog when Riley came into our lives, but boy did we love him so much…!!

  9. July 8, 2019 / 8:28 pm

    Hello Catherine,

    I’m sorry for your loss. You have given Riley good memories and a wonderful life. And he has given your family the same too. He will be missed.

    Sincerely,

    Sigrid

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 10, 2019 / 12:23 pm

      Sigrid thank you so much for your kind words xx

  10. Lesley Barker
    July 8, 2019 / 2:42 pm

    Oh Catherine ,I am so so sorry to read this. I don’t have Instagram so this is the first I knew. God bless you all.xxxx

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 10, 2019 / 12:23 pm

      Thank you so much Lesley xx

  11. Melissa Lee
    July 8, 2019 / 7:04 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Riley was so beautiful, and he knew so much love in his time with you. The hole they leave is just immeasurable and the pain is so intense. I lost my beloved cat in April and could barely function for at least two weeks, just crying and missing him so much. I’m still completely heartbroken and miss him all the time. Wishing you all the best as you adjust to life without Riley and through the healing process, although I believe he will always be with you as the love doesn’t end and that bond can never be broken.

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 10, 2019 / 12:23 pm

      Thank you Melissa… the hole IS immeasurable, isn’t it? I can’t believe how incredibly sad I am all the time. I’m sorry you lost your cat, Keith owned a cat when he was younger and he said he hasn’t felt pain like this since he loved his beloved moggy. Love and hugs to you xx

  12. July 8, 2019 / 12:40 am

    Awww Catherine you have wrote so beautifully about your relationship with Riley. Brought tears to my eyes as a lot in your list made me think of our adorable Bruno., too. Over 2 years gone now. What a good idea to write this.

    We have a little spot in the garden where Bruno is buried. We decide to bury him here rather than other options. I often sit close by and natter to him…. as if he’s there. … you know what I mean.

    Thinking of you xo

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 10, 2019 / 12:21 pm

      Oh Sharon I know how much you loved Bruno – and yes I talk and say goodnight to Riley still, we’re also still filling his water bowl with fresh water every day… I know that sounds silly, but I think until we get his ashes back from the vet (we’re hoping it’ll be today) we can then think about putting away his bowl and his bed. At the moment it’s like he’s not at home, and we’re desperate for him to come home.

      Thank you for your kind words. Much love to you xxxxxxxxx

  13. July 7, 2019 / 5:01 pm

    I’m so sorry about the loss of your beautiful boy. It is so hard to lose a pet but what has given me comfort is to know that we loved them well and gave them a wonderful life.

    We lost our rescue collie, Layla, to a mystery illness a couple of years ago and it took a very long time for us to be ready to adopt again. We really felt that no dog could be as wonderful as Layla and it hurt too much. Last March we were finally ready to look again. We thought we’d look for an older, smaller dog since we have a smallish house, four kids still at home, and four cats (!). At the first shelter we visited, this giant black dog just walked over and leaned against my husband, and that was that. We did the paperwork and then brought him home the next day. We wondered if he was half great Dane, as he has that look and is so large. We did his DNA and he is 50% English setter and 50% Labrador retriever. We named him Moose and he’s a playful, intensely loving boy who loves to learn tricks and adores every human, dog and cat he’s ever met. It took a very long time for us to be ready for Moose in our lives and we will always miss Layla, but now we are finally at the point of that Dr. Seuss quote — “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” We are to the smiling at the memories part at last.

    Sending much love to you and your husband.
    ~Alicia

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 10, 2019 / 12:17 pm

      Oh Alicia what a lovely story – the way Moose walked over to your husband and leaned against his legs sounds just like the way Riley endeared himself to us at Lisa’s (his “biological” mum as I call her) house when we’d go over there, long before there was the conversation about adopting him. We used to love seeing her dogs as much as we loved seeing her and her family… I’m sure that one day there will be another dog that we will love as much as we loved Riley. Thank you for those lovely words, and I’m sorry about the loss of Layla (a mystery illness must have been very hard to cope with). Sending love xx

  14. July 7, 2019 / 2:41 pm

    It was like reading my own story about Charlie. I so know how you feel as I felt (and feel) the same. We got our new puppy Watson too soon. We weren’t done mourning yet and it was hard for Ron and me, and for the puppy. Comparing all the time (very much in favour of Charlie who was a far easier dog), feeling like we betrayed Charlie by having this pup so quickly. It couldn’t be helped (lots of reasons) but more time to adjust would have been better.
    The pain seems to remain although of course you carry on and it loses it sharp edges. The grief is far worse with a dog than with a cat even though I loved all my cats dearly.
    I can only wish you strength and I think it is a good decision not to have more bad days. The way has to be forward. And indeed start doing the things you couldn’t with Riley being so poorly. I was with Lisa and Pippa last week and talked about Riley and the pain you were going through. Sending good thoughts.
    Greetje

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 10, 2019 / 12:13 pm

      Oh Greetje I’m so sorry to hear you think you got Watson to soon – I could totally understand why you got him straight away but yes, I can see that it would be hard if they were very different characters. I knew you were heartbroken and I knew we had it to come, but gosh it’s hard when it does come, isn’t it. In a way I’m glad you were there to spend time with Lisa as I was worried about how she was taking it, I’m hopefully seeing her this Friday so we can hug and cry together then.

      Thank you for the lovely words, the sad days have nowhere near ended but we’re doing our very best not to have any more bad days. Much love to you (and Ron and Watson too) xx

  15. Rosemary Parsons
    July 7, 2019 / 12:24 pm

    Catherine, I cannot say how sorry I am to hear your news, you must be devastated. I feel your pain as we lost Millie Thurs before last. I am in bits at times, its going to take a long time. Cannot say any more, I am to stressed. Speak soon. Love Rosemary No. 35

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 10, 2019 / 12:09 pm

      Thank you Rosemary for leaving a comment – obviously I’ve now seen you and we’ve chatted (thank you SO much for popping round) – I’m so incredibly sorry about you losing Millie on exactly the same day… I still can’t believe that!

      We’ll pop round and have a glass of wine with you one evening next week, I’ll knock on your door in the day to see what sort of time. I knew we’d both go through this at some point soon but now we’re going through it together we can help and support each other. Much love to you both xxxxxx

  16. Beverley Morrison
    July 7, 2019 / 6:01 am

    Lovely story can identify with so many things we have a greyhound Sonny boy an he is a doofus but he’s our doofus also BFG they steal your heart
    R.I.P Riley much loved an greatly missed

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 10, 2019 / 12:06 pm

      Aww that’s lovely to hear you have a greyhound Beverley – sighthounds are such lovely dogs, aren’t they? Thank you for the love, it’s greatly appreciated xx

  17. Randi
    July 7, 2019 / 5:40 am

    Our Doberman died in our arms a few years ago. We were so sad and didn’t know if we would ever get another dog. But when the time was right, we picked a newborn Blue Heeler who is now 5 years old and a member of the family. Her name is Rita and she loves frisbees and balls. Very loving and very smart.

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 10, 2019 / 12:05 pm

      Thank you Randi for commenting, I’m sorry to hear you’ve gone through it too – but I’m also happy for you that you got another gorgeous furball when the time was right. We’re not deciding yet, but if and when the time is right we’ll get another I’m sure xx

  18. Gary simpson.
    July 6, 2019 / 9:51 pm

    know how you feel. I lost my girl few weeks ago. she came from kennels. had cancer. she was about 12. also lost my boy 2years ago. give ya heart and they give theirs right back.

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 10, 2019 / 12:03 pm

      Gary I’m so sorry that you also lost your lovely girl recently. You’re right that they give you their heart, wholeheartedly and unconditionally too…! Thank you so much for commenting, sending love xx

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