The Ambassador of the Bike Path

There are two ways of walking a dog. The tug at the leash, mom-I-want-to-run type of walk, and the meandering, I need to sniff everything in sight–twice–walk. Riley had a decided preference for the latter. A beagle mix, he lived by his nose.

But it wasn’t just the grass and the trees that had his attention. Riley was a people dog. He enjoyed humans far more than his furry friends. Human, dog or squirrel? It was no contest. The human won every time. Riley would stop deferentially and turn his head toward the person, attempting to make eye contact. His beautiful brown eyes would stay focused until the person noticed him. Usually that resulted in some kind words and a few minutes of petting. Occasionally people ignored him, but it didn’t change a thing. Stop. Look. Wait. Riley could do that all day long.

It was like Riley was personally responsible for greeting everyone. That meant you had to allow extra time on the Linwood Bike Path in nice weather, when people would be out and about. Because some things simply could not be rushed. He’d leave each person a little brighter for having stopped. I noticed more than one smile that hadn’t been there before.

But as it often happens, things change. The once agile young beagle is now a mature 13, and for all intents and purposes,  blind and deaf. It happened gradually, but after awhile, I noticed that Riley wasn’t able to entice fellow walkers with a glance. He didn’t stop, pause and wait for them to notice him.

That didn’t matter. For Riley had trained them to come to him! They were so used to stopping to give him a pat and a kind word that they did it automatically. “Hi, Riley! How’s it going? How is the ambassador of the Linwood Bike Path today?”

Though his beautiful brown eyes are now clouded with cataracts, his nose works as well as ever! He greets them, and stands with tongue lolling, enjoying the pats and the attention for as long as they’ll give it.

Yes, walks take a little longer these days. Some people think it’s because of Riley’s age. But you and I know the real reason.





  1. That was Beautiful Felicia!
    I can relate to having an older ‘Furry Child’.
    My 14 year old Westie, needs to be carried up and down the flight stairs a few times a day.
    Nights are the toughest, when we’re both a little ‘off balance’, but he still wakes me with a
    tap dance that says NOW. Last night, as it rained ‘cats & dogs’, my little guy stood lost and
    confused as the distraction from the rain interrupted his mission. While he got soaked to the bone,
    I brought him back in and pulled a warm towel from the dryer. Not sure whether he forgot to shake
    off the rain-or he was just looking for another chance to be wrapped and swaddled.
    It’s tough when your Baby becomes your ‘senior’, but its another day together-and for that, we’re grateful!

  2. I liked what you wrote. I just got back from a walk with Moffet who is now eleven and I walked from Patcong ave to sea view. Back to Patcong and down to park past Mainland. He was very slow on the way back and I thought he wasn’t going to make it. As for people he could care less but, he loves other furry friends. But lately I have not seen his buddies on the bike path. Some died and some moved away and others it might just be the timing. But he enjoys going off road just the same. And, I love it too!

  3. I just got back from a walk with Moffet who is now eleven. He always believed that he owned the bike path. Whether it be a bike ,person ,a dog or skateboard he felt as though he wasn’t moving out of the way they would. Of course I always moved him out of the way or he would have got ran over. He was not a people dog but he loved his furry friends. We have not seen very many of his friends lately. Some died others moved and maybe it’s the timing we go out. He loves his walks and I love them just as much as him. We went for a long walk from Patcong to sea view and back to Patcong and past Mainland to the park. We used to do that walk in no time flat. But now it takes him longer. In fact I thought I was going to have to carry him . He was walking so slow but he made it. All I have to say is off road and he is ready to roll. I will keep walking him as long as he can make it. And as long as I can make it too!

  4. It’s really hard to watch our fur babies grow older. Their unconditional love for us however enables us to care for them with a serious bend toward unconditional compassion. Both of these unconditional emotions can be harder to transmit to the people in our lives. I like to think however, that the learning we get from our dogs can transfer to the people in our lives and it makes me smile.

  5. Hi Felicia and hello ladies,
    I read all of your stories and have to say each one touched me. I too have an aging pet…a mini rex rabbit named Oatis, that once was made famous (okay, well at least published…by our friend Felicia). He’ll be 10 in June and has a tumor the size of an apple growing on his side. It doesn’t seem to bother him any and he still loves to be petted and held and still moves like a bullet, but only when treats are given.
    Oatis now has a younger fury brother named Odin, (a zippy and friendly bichon) that came to live with us 4 years ago. Oatis (the rabbit) used to get all the attention and he used to love to bask in the sun all day by the patio doors. However, since Odin came to live with us, we’ve had to gate off Oatis from his sunny, warm spot to keep him safe from Odin. He still has the entire livingroom to himself, which is much more than I can say for some other rabbits I know. But it saddens me that Oatis may never bask in the sunshine again while his “brother” takes over the rest of the house.
    I’m the only one in my family now that takes care of Old Man Oatis. My family has all but forgotten the joy that this beautiful rabbit once brought to my family. Odin now rules the roost!

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