Dear Riley….and your firefighter dad
Not long ago I was stopped for speeding on the 101 Freeway. I started chatting with the cop. I told him that my brother was a fireman…I tried to not make it obvious but I was hoping for some sort of civic-brotherhood-inspired-leniency. It had the opposite effect. He started getting agitated, his voice rose.
“I hate fireman,” he said. “Everyone loves them. Do you know who loves cops? NO ONE. Anytime I pull someone over, they dread seeing me. Do you know what that feels like? What that does to a person?”
“Um, no sir.”
“Firemen!” he threw his hands in the air, “Who is so stupid that they actually run INTO a burning building, not out of it?!”
In the end, I didn’t get the ticket. But he’s right. My brother is beloved. And not just by me. So are the other men and women he works with. And dogs. Especially the dogs. Riley is a rescue dog that works with Eric Gray, a fireman with the Santa Barbara Fire Department. Yesterday he got off a plane in Japan to start helping with rescue efforts.
In 2009, a young girl named Vulan read about Riley in the paper. She lives in Lompoc, California. This was the letter she sent to him.