My good friend Vince Riley is someone with whom I always enjoy talking. It helps that we are neighbors. I like hearing of his outdoor pursuits. Plus, he is an international airline pilot flying for Delta. His job takes him and his passengers across the globe to far off destinations.
Sometimes, like school kids we will text each other. “Flying over Iran and want you to know I am thinking of you back home,” scrolled across the screen of my cell phone a few weeks back. “Why, do I remind you of a terrorist?” I jokingly typed. “No, because it’s 100 degrees down there,” he replied, knowing we were in the middle of another polar vortex dropping bone-chilling cold back home in the Midwest.
So you can imagine my shock when last Sunday morning he texted the words “Just found Kacie dead — could use a friend right now.”
Kacie was Riley’s beloved yellow lab. They say everyone has only one dog of a lifetime and Kacie was his. Even more sentimental was the fact he received her several days after 911. Being a commercial pilot, that fateful day hit him extremely hard, and his new puppy provided much-needed distraction from a day we will never forget.
It wasn’t long before both of us stood overlooking a wooded hillside on Riley’s property, places where Kacie could always be found running, exploring and basically living a dog’s dream. Her sudden death devastated him. Just a few days earlier we watched her investigate the scent of critters that had passed through their yard, now we looked for a place to bury her. There is no doubt he hoped to have her much longer, even though she was getting up there in years. But, everyone’s days are numbered and dogs are no different.