In context, this statement suggests an ideal life of prosperity and contentment, advantaged in many ways yet always in a positive sense. With my almost nine year old Bernese Mountain Dog “Riley” by my side, it seems we both live the “best” life.
With the holidays upon us, I always find myself reflecting on all the wonderful joys that life has brought me throughout the year—companionship, love and loyalty. As a child, I grew up with a menagerie of rabbits, turtles and birds. Not all at once mind you, but I was always in search of that perfect alternative pet since we were unable to have a dog in the house due to allergies.
First there was my pet rabbit “Tiny,” whom we were convinced was a male until I went to camp one summer, only to return and find that “HE” was a new mother with several smaller clones hopping along by her side. You can imagine how thrilled my own mother was with that surprise.
I later became enamored with turtles—those little half-dollar sized ones that continually got lost under the couch or scooted out the door somehow. They were promptly replaced by “Patty,” my glorious parakeet, followed by gerbils and hamsters until I left the nest and ventured out into the world on my own, college-bound. I knew that one day I would have the prized pup that I’d always dreamed of.
That vision became a reality almost nine years ago when I drove for six hours through a blizzard to Utica, New York to pick up my new Bernese Mountain Dog. I’ll never forget that day—tired and exhausted after the white-knuckled drive, I was greeted by two of the cutest tri-colored puppies I’d ever seen. One of them clearly chose me as her future mother, as she never left my side once I entered into her home. That was it. She sealed the deal. She was mine.
Having researched many breeds leading up to my decision, I decided a Bernese Mountain Dog would be the most suitable for me. Large and friendly, these dogs are one of four breeds that originated in the Swiss Alps. These dogs are extremely calm, patient and affectionate and enjoy being around adults and children alike.
At nearly 85 pounds, one would never describe a Bernese as a “lap dog,” but Riley seems not to notice her oversized frame and is happy to crawl into my lap when I’m relaxing on the couch. As a puppy and weighing a mere 16 pounds, I adored such affection but as she continued to grow, I decided it was time to litter the house with luxurious thrones for her to splay upon. And like most children, she became obsessed with stuffed toys in all shapes and sizes and enjoys carrying them in her mouth wherever she goes. “Puppy playgroup” meets five days a week to burn off some excess energy and she loves the interaction with other dogs her size.
What I enjoy most about Riley is our time at home when she’s close by my side. Whether working at the computer or cooking in the kitchen, I always know that this light in my life is an arm’s reach away. Loyalty at its finest. With that soft as silk hair rubbing against my leg and those saucer-sized brown eyes staring up at me, I’m filled with happiness and am so grateful that this creature chose me to become a part of her life. Yes, she lives the “life of Riley,” but I guess it’s mutual.
Whether it’s a dog, a person, or any other living creature, the power of love is altruistic. In this season of joy, happiness and reflection, I sincerely wish you all a wonderful holiday and am so grateful to all whom have enriched my life so greatly.