Dear Riley….and your firefighter dad

SB County Firefighter Eric Gray and Search Dog Riley debark at Misawa Air Force Base in Japan. Credit: SBFD

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.

2 Comments on “Dear Riley….and your firefighter dad

  1. Laurel,
    I was poking around tonight for a link that I promised to send to someone and stumbled on some “Riley” photo links. This link sent me to you. I wanted to thank you for the kind words! I did not know this had been written or that you had taken to time to acknowledge us and for posting the incredible letter from Vulan. I recall giving J.W.B the letter but did not know where it went beyond that. Just wanted to thank you again for taking the time to add us to your site. Look forward to meeting you!
    -E-

  2. Eric! I thought Jake sent this to you. I posted it on the SB Fire page…but I guess you were too busy doing other things, like search and rescue in Japan, to be online. Thank YOU for sharing this letter. Vulan is my hero. I bet she is still busy being a studious student. I hope she makes it to vet school and I hope one day I can bring her my dog for a check up. I think about you and Riley often….looking forward to meeting both of you soon.

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