Dear Riley Rose

Along with being the first month in the clean slate of the New Year, January is also the month when, three years ago, I lost my soulmate- Riley Rose.



Ri was a huge 135-pound Great Dane/Lab mix. We found each other 15 years ago when we were two hurting souls occupying two injured bodies. Constant physical and emotional abuse had scarred Riley, and cancer had scarred me. In spite of the odds being against us, the two of us came together and embarked on our 12-year journey of healing, love, and devotion. There was never one day of Riley’s life that he did not show his gratitude or affection. He kept us laughing with his antics and gave companionship when needed. When my children were born, this large, goofy dog became their silent protector and constant playmate. Giving the nod to the vet that ended his life was the absolute single most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make and, at the same time, the most selfless act I’ve ever performed.


Riley’s passing was nothing like I’d imagined it would be. To be fair, I’d never imagined it at all, choosing instead to live in blissful denial. But even still, nothing could have prepared me for the two days spent with Riley in the back of the vet hospital while he was on life support. I knew Ri was ready to leave, but I was unwilling to let him go. I couldn’t imagine life without him, so I stayed and I prayed and I begged and I hoped. Until the time came when I had to let go.



Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him. Time most definitely does not heal all wounds. And that’s okay because this is one wound I don’t want healed. I never want Riley’s memory or the pain of losing him to be forgotten because that would not be honoring the wonder that was Riley Rose. But what time does do is allow our heart to grow and welcome in more love that pads the existing pain. That’s what our new dogs have taught me. They’re not trying to take Riley’s place but rather carve out their own real estate in this ever-growing heart of mine.


The journey Riley and I had together was so magical and so significant and so big that I knew I wanted to honor it but wasn’t sure how. That was until I reconnected with an old friend from the Brentwood dog park. She inspired me to start writing and, once I started, I couldn’t stop. With her inspiration and guidance, I ended up writing one long love letter to Riley. And that long love letter became a book. And that book became this website and this website became this blog. And this blog led me to you.


Dear Riley Rose is the story of Riley and me. It is the love story with my husband, the birth of our children, the battle with my cancer, the ups and downs of parenting and, through it all, the unbreakable bond between wounded soulmates. No matter what I was going through, Riley was quietly by my side, never asking for anything, always giving everything. Riley became my safe place and my refuge.  With Ri, I never had to smile through the pain or pretend to be strong- I only had to be myself and receive the love that he so readily and relentlessly offered.



It’s true that in the beginning, I did rescue Riley, but somewhere along the way, he began to rescue me. Life without him has felt like I’m facing a battle without my suit of armor, but I also know that Riley has never left me. I feel his strong presence every day.


Even three years after his death, Riley Rose continues to motivate and inspire. This dog is the reason I’ve embarked on this adventure of putting my journey out there for the world to read, which has been equally terrifying and amazing. I can’t wait to share Dear Riley Rose with you when it is published. And until then, I am going to continue to offer my blog, Hits of Hope, as a way to bring my message of optimism, strength, and love to this community- as it is the message of Riley’s life, the message he taught me with his unwavering support.


As you have been receiving my writings, I want to thank you for being a part of my community.


You have given me the courage to share and shown me that there are many people in our world who NEED this message of hope.


And you can help me bring it to them.


As you know, the book publishing world is wildly competitive. Books need an audience before they are even printed. Publishers want to see that a story has a strong readership- and a growing one.


If Riley’s story has resonated with you- if you find the message of hope to be a worthy and inspiring one- please consider sharing my website and encouraging your friends and family to subscribe to receive the Hits of Hope blog directly to their email inbox.


I believe Dear Riley Rose is going to find a way into the world. I know Riley’s story, our story, is going to find it’s way to the person or persons who may need just a little bit of strength and a whole lot of hope. We are going to show Riley’s story the way!



It was hope that brought Riley and me together in the first place and hope that gave us the courage to say goodbye. And it is with that hope that I’m going to continue to embark on this path Riley continues to pave for me- pave for us.


To each of you who are on this path with me, my deepest and sincerest gratitude. I could not be more excited to see where this next year takes us.


In love and hope,




  1. Melissa Branch on January 20, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    This is so beautiful Caroline!!! Thank you for sharing the story of Riley Rose and I cannot wait until your book is published! XOXO

  2. Laurel Mellin on January 21, 2020 at 10:04 am

    I’m happy to see your community growing. You are inspiring many people and I can’t wait to read your new book!

  3. Lynn Neely on January 21, 2020 at 10:07 pm

    You are such a talented writer! I love reading your posts. This one really touched me.
    I cannot wait to read your book!
    I love you so much. You are so special to our family.❤️❤️❤️

  4. Kristen Forderer on January 24, 2020 at 4:53 am

    Beautifully written ❤️

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