Thursday, December 27, 2007

Rotten Riley

By Tom Schreck,

author of On the Ropes, A Duffy Dombrowski Mystery

That's me and Riley.

Riley's a rescue dog--meaning someone gave him up and he needed a home. Turns out some old lady kept him in a cage all day and called him "Rotten" Riley.

Some group of dog people got him but they said he was aggressive and they recommended that he get put down. Besides that he wasn't a pure bred--he's half bloodhound and somehow that made him less than.

Well, a nice woman named Heather thought the dog group was nuts so she adopted Riley and didn't put him down but added him to her collection of 10 unwanted bassets. She put his photo on, a spot for rescued dogs.

My first dog Buddy had just died suddenly and we had Agnes, a bloodhound and Wilbur, a basset left. When I saw Riley's lineage something inside of me said he's might be for us. When I called my wife she said he was definitely for us and made me call the woman and set up a road trip.

My wife is like that.

Riley became ours and he didn't come without issues. He was aggressive in his own way and bit both of us once or twice when we broke up fights between him and Wilbur but that was a long time ago. He barks when he gets his food and he does this weird thing where he controls which dog gets to go through the doorway first.

He also took and passed his therapy dog test.

That's right--Ol "Rotten" Riley, once on death row, is a certified therapy dog. He goes to the VA Hospital and visits the locked psychiatric ward where's he's known to steal milk, snacks and sandwiches from the patients.

Nobody complains.

And people who don't smile much smile a little more when Riley takes their milk.

May we all be as rotten.

People like Heather and the rescue groups take care of dogs like Riley and they spend their own money getting them fed, giving them medical care and everything else that goes into caring for a pet. Sometimes they do fundraisers at pet stores and other places. Next time you go past them give them some money or maybe even adopt your own rotten pet.

My very first book signing for On The Ropes benefited the New England Basset Hound Rescue--and even though there were lots of Red Sox fans there I still gave them all the proceeds.


Candy Calvert said...

Wonderful post, Tom.
Riley made me smile--and got to keep my milk, too.

But I'm still waiting my turn to get out the door . . .


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Thank you, Tom, for this uplifting post this morning.

Both of my cats were originally rescues. It's hard to believe that someone once thought of them as disposable. Their lost, my definite gain.

Happy New Year to you, Mrs. Tom, Wilbur, Agnes and, of course, "Rotten" Riley!

Joe Moore said...

Nice post, Tom. Sometimes the most meaningful relationships we have with pets start with them finding us rather than the other way around. My wife and I fast walk through a heavily wooded park just about everyday. One morning a kitten literally walked out of the woods as we past by. We took him home thinking we would put him out on our screened patio until I had time to take him to the animal shelter. It’s been almost two years and he’s still with us. He keeps me company all day as I sit and write, and I couldn’t imagine our home without him. BTW, his name is “Patio”.

Mark Combes said...

Who would thunk a big strapping fellow like you would have a heart of jello? :)

We rescue a kitten and my wife named HIM "Bitty." You know how humiliating it is to go to the vet and stand next to a guy with a dog named "Killer" and tell the nurse your cat's name is "Bitty?" Okay, I'm not such a tough guy either.

Keith Raffel said...

I echo what Mark said, you ol' softie.

Tom Schreck said...

I like to think of myself as a big strapping softie...

Mark Terry said...

I'm all for the rescue groups, but with a caveat, because we had a very bad experience with a dog we brought home from a rescue group. It responded quite well to the woman at the rescue group, but once we got him home, was increasingly hostile to anyone who came in our yard and started snapping at our kids, who were quite young at the time.

We ended up returning him to the group and let them keep the money.

Although I think the rescue groups are a good thing, potential owners need to pay attention to what's going on. We have a neighbor who acquired a 4-year-old boxer that's had some abuse issues. To us, he's a sweety, but to them, he's a problem that's gotten in a number of fights with other dogs and children. My wife and I see this primarily as an "owner" issue (as are most pet problems, to my mind). Our friend just doesn't know how to be the alpha dog around the boxer and he knows it.

I think the dog we had to return probably would have been an excellent dog for a certain type of owner--not one with kids, though--and we feel that the rescue group was so eager to make sure he had a home they didn't try to make sure it went to the right home.

Sounds like yours worked out well, though.

Our latest dog, Frodo, was a freebie we got as a pup and that's worked out great. Our first dog, Ralph, was 6 when we got him and he was terrific as well.

Nina Wright said...

I like to divide my "animal resources" between the four-leggers I pick and the ones who pick me . . . although I tend to end up with more of the latter.

Your story of Riley reminded me of the pregnant feral beagle-bloodhound mix who found me many winters ago; she has inspired a few fictional characters, including the amazing Mooney in the Whiskey Mattimoe books. Then there was the tiny white kitten who followed me for miles on a hike through the hills of West Virginia. Ultimately she stayed with me all the way to Florida, where she enjoyed life as a lanai cat; I named her Lola (because "Lola gets what Lola wants").

Tom, your timely post serves as a holiday reminder to raise a glass to those creatures who have filled our hearts with love and and our lives with laughter! Cheers.

Susan Goodwill said...

I meant to respond to this yesterday. Love the post, Tom! Ernie, another Petfinder graduate and one of my best buddies says "hi" to Riley.

Felicia Donovan said...

Nice post, Tom. I, too, have rescues from PetFinder through a wonderful rescue group.

As devoted as we are of to our craft, these folks are equally dedicated and spend a great deal of their time and own money rescuing animals that are about to be put down.

Sorry for your experience, Mark. It does happen, but most folks I know have quite the happy ending.

There's just something innate about these animals that somehow know you've saved them.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...


I just love this. We, too, have a rescue dog. Ours has three legs--lost one to abuse. As someone told me, "These dogs are so grateful." Yes, and so am I. Grateful that my dog gave people a second chance.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tom, I am always glad when someone sees the value of rescue especially when it comes to Basset Hounds. Keep up the good work of getting the word out. I love Bhs too and have my own site just for Basset Hounds at Squidoo. Come by some time for a visit and leave me a comment...