Requiem For A Dog


Riley Thatcher, 2016

Before I ever started blogging, I did my homework. One of the rules from the experts was this: It doesn’t matter how often you write; it can be daily, once a week, twice a week, once a month, whatever. But pick a schedule and keep to it. Most bloggers fail because they can’t keep up with the schedule; once a week may turn into once a month which fades to every now and then.

Since I started writing nearly three years ago, I have been pretty darn faithful about writing every Tuesday and Saturday. But you may have noticed you haven’t heard from me since January 12. Since I consider my readers as my friends, I wanted to share why I have missed writing.

My canine best buddy Riley Cramer Thatcher, who had been mistakenly diagnosed with an upper palate injury in the fall, actually had an aggressive oral mast cell tumor. He went downhill very quickly in mid-December and the tumor diagnosis was finally confirmed just after Christmas.

Although we tried to beat the cancer with chemotherapy treatment by a caring oncologist, we lost the fight and had Riley put to sleep on Saturday night, January 19.

For the last week of his life, I stayed by Riley’s side nearly all the time, sleeping downstairs with him so the frequent middle-of-the-night trips outside were easier. I hand-fed him scrambled eggs when it seemed difficult for him to eat from a bowl. There were some dark  January days and a few days when he seemed to rally a bit, even enough to walk in the park.

But if you’ve ever had a beloved pet who has been seriously injured or come down with a usually-fatal illness, you know the gut-wrenching decision that is part of being a responsible master. It’s not about keeping them alive because you can’t bear to let them go; it’s about doing what’s best for them.

In 1890, Robert Louis Stevenson penned the poem Requiem. From the Latin, requiem means to rest from labors.  The word now refers to a religious ceremony performed for the dead. The poem is as follows:

Under the wide and starry sky, Dig the grave and let me lie. Glad did I live and gladly die, And I laid me down with a will. This be the verse you grave for me: Here he lies where he longed to be; Home is the sailor, home from sea, And the hunter home from the hill.

Riley, the fearless and tireless squirrel hunter, has come home from the hill.


“Pie Jesu” (Requiem). Taken from the DVD André Rieu – Under The Stars



9 thoughts on “Requiem For A Dog

  1. Nancy Caldwell says:

    My deepest sympathy on the loss of your dear Riley. He was a handsome fellow and how blessed he was to have been loved by you and your family and how blessed you all were to have him share your lives. May your sweet memories comfort you in a most difficult time. I did miss your blogs but thought it was again my internet. Welcome back and keep up the good work. God Bless sweet girl!

  2. Carol says:

    I am still upset at Riley’s passing, I thought he would pull through this cancer with such good care from his mommy. I truly believe he is with Tim running in the fields free and happy! Norma I can’t tell you how sorry I am for your loss. I am so glad I got to meet your big guy at our mama’s luncheon, he was so sweet. I loved petting his smooth ears and him laying on my feet under the table. He was like a big kid! I know you did the best you could for him, call me he you need to talk. (703) 971-4984 or (703) 772-7670 love and hugs, Carol

  3. Betsy Cramer says:

    More tears shed this morning; but I’m glad, Norma, you were able to share your sad news with all. This will help keep the memory of Riley alive for as long as the cyber world exists, possibly forever, and there may be people who never even were aware of Riley Cramer Thatcher who will be moved by him and your words. I miss “our boy” so very much, even though I didn’t spend a fraction of the time you did with him. He certainly had an extremely strong impact on my life. I look forward to seeing you, Riley, along with all of the other sweet animals who have moved through my life, when it’s my turn to leave this life and move on to the next. With all my love, Aunt Betsy

  4. Frederique Vincent says:

    RIP sweet Riley! Our beloved companions may die, but they are never gone… My beloved Chase is as alive in my heart as he was when breathing. I talk to him as I pass by his tomb in our backyard. Love to you, my friend!

  5. Connie Nash says:

    So sorry Norma. It is so hard to say goodbye to the animal members of our families. They add so much to our lives. He was lucky to have been a part of your family.

  6. Beverly says:

    Riley Cramer Thatcher – a most loved dog – and I know that he knew that. And as Richard once told me, “He’s Norma’s dog.” I will miss seeing all of his special holiday pictures that you posted online. I once asked you, “How do you get him to sit so still until you take the picture?” You answered, “He can see the treat that I’m holding in my hand.” What a lucky dog Riley was to have you and Richard come into his life.

  7. Ellen and Bob Miller says:

    We are so very sorry for your loss. We know how painful it is to loose a dog as they are such an important member of the family. We have been through three losses, all so very sad.
    I just spent last evening remembering a good friend’s dog, Lucy, who recently passed at the ripe age of 17 years old! She shared photos and videos of her last Christmas with their family and her ripping open her wrapped gift of her favorite treat!
    Lucy had a wonderful life, and she will never be forgotten. My friend is putting together a Memory album of her life. It is helping her in her grieving process.
    Again our deepest sympathies to you, too, Norma.
    May you find comfort in your fondest memories of Riley, and we are so sorry for your loss.
    With love 🐾

  8. Sherry O'Shell says:

    Hello Dear Friend,
    I am so sorry to read that your beloved Riley has passed on. I know your hurt is deep.
    Riley was a very lucky boy to have spent so many happy years with you and especially lucky that you were able to allow him to rest from the labor of his pain. That is true love.

  9. Judy Jones says:

    Dear precious Norma, I read your blog when it was posted. For once in my life, I had no words.
    I struggled knowing how deeply you love Riley ( and still do). I tried to call you, with no answer. I know that we spoke when you called me. We prayed for Riley every night that God would heal him. Our hearts still ache for you and for all who met this extraordinary companion, friend and such a huge part of your family. I agree with all the comments posted—especially that Riley and Tim are running together again. We love you Norma and hold you close in our hearts.
    Judy and Greg

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