The hallmark of a good Valentine’s Day story always includes unconditional love mixed with a bit of sorrow and a big heaping dose of destiny – even if the story is about a sad and neglected dog.
Riley spent the first five years of his life alone and neglected in a backyard. While his owners made sure he was fed, they didn’t do much else for the Goldendoodle mix. By the time he ended up in the care of the Heaven Can Wait Animal Society, his fur was severely matted and he had sores all over his skin that made him cry in pain when anyone tried to touch him. His nails had never been trimmed and were so curled under his paws it made it almost impossible for the dog to walk.
The rescue group put Riley in their Pups on Parole prison training program for dogs and for the first time the dog received the care he needed. His inmate handler gave him a bath and saw that his nails were trimmed and his sores were treated. The sad dog sprang to life. He learned to play with the other dogs in the program and was soon being called the “Mayor” of Pups on Parole because of his loving nature.
Finally on January 2, 2012 Riley was ready to find a new home. Soon interest came from a longtime supporter of the rescue group who thought it might be the right time to add a dog like Riley to her family.
At the same time, Barbara Schwartz was about to celebrate a birthday. Her husband, Steven, knew Barbara wanted to adopt a dog, so he told her to find the perfect pooch for her birthday gift.
Barbara said, “I made the rounds and dropped by four different adoption centers searching for a certain dog that would make my heart sing.”
When she saw Riley sitting in his pen, Barbara was sure she had found her new dog. Then she noticed a sign on Riley’s cage that said, “I already have a home.” Barbara felt a sadness come over her and she walked out of the center without asking anyone for information about the dog.
The next day she still felt a strong connection to Riley and decided to call and get more details about him. While waiting to hear back Barbara also decided to call a friend who she knew was a longtime supporter of Heaven Can Wait.
That’s when destiny stepped in to lend a helping hand. The woman was the same person who was considering adopting Riley. She thought the dog would make a great addition for her mother’s home.
Once the two women spoke, it became very clear the sign on Riley’s pen, “I already have a home,” was really destined for Barbara and Steven.
“It was fate. Riley was meant to be in our home,” said Barbara.
Riley quickly adjusted to his new home and new family. “He has tons of love to give,” said Barbara. “He just needed a second chance. Riley is so social, I understand why they called him the ‘Mayor.’ He loves to get in the middle of everything and everyone. He loves people and other animals. He loves everybody. “He just wanted somebody to love him.”
Riley, Barbara and Steven will be celebrating their one-month anniversary on Valentine’s Day!
Photo from A Kamphuis via flickr