My name is Riley. My mom rescued me from the Lake Elsinore County Animal Shelter in California when I was five months old.
She was sent there to pick up several purebred lab puppies because she was transporting them for a lab rescue in San Diego. The county worker pointed me out to her and said I might look enough like a lab to meet the rescue’s requirements. Mom called the lab rescue, and they told her it was okay to bring me, as well. (My brindle brother, unfortunately, stayed at the pound, something my mom says still gives her sleepless nights.)
Mom took me to San Diego, but when we got there, the rescue person said I was too “pitty” and suggested that Mom return me to the pound.
The county worker had told my new mom that this was my last day at the pound — I was scheduled to be PTS that afternoon. I was only five months old and my mom says she couldn’t take me back to my death. She worked out an arrangement with the lab rescue, where she would foster me but could bring me to the lab adoption events as a “private adoption.” So I went to a few of the events (and totally stole the scene, BTW) and Mom rejected a number of potential adopters…because she decided that I had already found my home, and it was with her!
The first time Mom heard anything bad about me was when she took me to her vet for a check-up. As we were leaving, some stranger stopped her and told her that she would need a “breaking stick” for me when I got older. She didn’t know what a breaking stick was and the stranger told her it was to break my jaws open when I attacked another dog since I’m a pitbull and I would become vicious when I get older.
This was the first time that Mom personally experienced the breed discrimination against both pitbulls and Chow Chows (my brother is a Chow Chow that she had adopted about a month before I came into her life). She says that people who used to wave at her when she went for a walk now moved to the other side of the street when she walked me and my brother. And we were only six months old!!!
People are very strange; They have dogs off-leash who come running up and are aggressive toward me, but the people would blame me for their dogs being so mean! Unbelievable, right? My mom met one nice woman who had purebred Staffordshire terriers, and that woman said she had treadmills in her back yard and she walked her dogs on them because she was worried some off-leash dog running up to attack her dog and her dog being blamed for responding. Happily, I’m a lover not a fighter, so I would either try to be friends with the loose dogs or let my mom scare them off.
Mom took me on off-leash walks in an area outside of the community she lived in so I could run around and burn up some energy. While there, one time, I met a coyote and went chasing off after him. Mom freaked out and went running after me, sure that the coyote was leading me into a trap and that I would be killed. But when she finally caught up to me, I was already making friends with the coyote and his buddy. After that, every time we went to the off-leash area, if I heard a coyote, I would go racing off to play with the pack. Mom would finish walking my brother, who liked to hang out next to Mom, then she would wait by the truck for me until I was ready to come back.
One time, I came running back with several of my friends, thinking they would like to come to the house with me and get some free food. For some reason, when they saw Mom, they ran away. I was very confused as to why they didn’t want to come to the truck with me. Mom told me I needed to get permission the next time I wanted to bring any friends back to the house for a sleep-over!
Mom says that until I was about two years old, I kind of WAS a monster, but only because I loved to chew EVERYTHING. I had a real taste for electronics and I destroyed her TV remote, a handheld two-way radio, several pagers and a cell phone. I also loved to sneak into the bathroom at night and unroll the toilet paper off the roll, carrying it out to the living room and decorating it for Mom to find the next morning.
I didn’t like the grapevines she had planted to shade her arbor so I chewed through their trunks. I tried to make it up to her by creating a water feature in the back yard. I spent ALL day, while she was at work, digging up the underground PVC sprinkler pipe, chewing through it, then tugging it up to a 45-degree angle, so the water would spout gracefully from it. I finished earlier than I expected, so by the time she got home, the entire courtyard was wet from the water pouring out of the pipe, but she wasn’t nearly as happy about it as I thought she would be. There is no pleasing some people, I guess. I was such a terror, my Mom’s African Grey Parrot learned how to say, “Ri…knock it off!”
We both made it through my growing pains, and Mom has kept me busy playing with all the foster dogs she brings home. I have met literally hundreds of dogs, little to big, young to old, and I am the dog who greets them at the door, teaches them manners if they need a lesson, shows them where the best toys are hidden, keeps them company when Mom is at work, and tells them it is going to be okay when they head out with Mom to an adoption event.
I get a little depressed when they don’t come back, but Mom says that is because they have found their forever home, and she gives me a treat or a cuddle for being such a good friend to them, so I guess it all works out in the end. And I still have my brother here with me, and I know I am here to stay. I don’t necessarily like every dog my mom has fostered, but I have never bitten another dog, even the snotty ones, so Mom has never needed that breaking stick!!
When Mom had to move from southern California to northern California because of her job, she decided that she wanted to find a place where me and my brother, Chewy, would have lots of room to run and wouldn’t have to be kept in a small yard all day while she was at work. So she found us ten acres in El Dorado, CA, and I love it!!
I’m 12 now so I’m not a puppy anymore, but I still love to get out and sniff all the gopher holes, chase the wild bunnies (although I have yet to catch one), and patrol my “yard.” I ignore the chickens and the donkeys. I am afraid of snakes, but I will bark when I find one, to let my Mom know, and she will come over to save me.
I am a total wimp. If I get hurt, I go running to Mom. I even ran to her so she could remove a sliver that I got stuck in my belly from pushing around in the bushes too much. I ran up to her, then rolled over, so she would see the sliver and take it out. I did get into a fight once, though. After we moved to El Dorado, I fought off a coyote who had decided to come in to snack on Mom’s goats. I still have the scars on my face from where he bit me. Mom told me she loved me, but that now everyone who met me was going to think I was a fighting dog. My only other scars are on my body, from where the vet has had to remove a few benign tumors. Getting old really sucks.
Everyone who takes the time to stop and meet me, instead of crossing the street to avoid me, says that I am a loveable and loving dog. My favorite place is anywhere I can get petted and loved on, and if you let me, I’ll climb into your lap. At the pet store or the vet’s office, I always want to make the rounds and meet everyone. My current vet always comments on what a great dog I am, and says I have a beautiful smile! I haven’t met a person I don’t like, and I don’t understand it when people don’t like me without even stopping to get to know me.
Mom makes we wait to greet people, and she says that not everyone wants to pet me, but I can’t believe that any person wouldn’t feel better after giving me a hug or a neck scratch, so I get depressed when she doesn’t let me run about and say hello to everyone. I totally get over it when they come over to say hi to me, though!
I am not a monster. I am a dog. I am a good dog. I am most people’s idea of a perfect dog, except for my physical appearance. If I looked like an Irish Setter or a Golden Retriever, I’d probably be on a calendar somewhere. But I look like a pit bull, so I have to prove myself to most of the people I meet. And my Mom has to continue to reassure some strangers upon meeting me, that the dog who is dancing around with his tail wagging is actually just happy to meet them.
Thanks for reading my story!