While eating the BEST grilled chicken salad in the whole world (really!) at Cafe324 located at 324 North Commercial Street, Manchester, I grabbed the newspaper and found an article about the death of a kind-hearted 14 year old female black lab named Riley who was a faithful visitor at the NH Veterans Home in Tilton for many years.
She started her relationship with the veterans home simply by chance when she met Bill Mertens, a resident of the home, who frequently visited her as he went out for his daily walks and soon the two became friends, partly because Bill always had treats in his pockets. In 2007, Bill was bedridden and because of that, Bill requested to have Riley visit him at the veterans home and after that first visit, Riley was a regular, letting herself in through the home's automatic doors, coming and going as she pleased. If she wasn't visiting the veterans, she would spend time with staff members who enjoyed petting and feeding her. I am sure the New Hampshire Veterans Home is going to feel Riley's loss for a long time to come.
I was struck by Riley's story because she made such an impact on the lives of others that she was honored with a tribute that appeared on the front page of the Greater Manchester section! It also reminded me about the healing power of animals and it is amazing how well they understand the needs of humans and all they want from us in return is food, shelter, a few walks, and lots of love.