CAITLIN JILL ANDERS
Riley, a Siberian husky, spent the first part of his life as a feral dog living all alone in the woods in Georgina, Ontario. He was underweight and terrified of people, and seemed to have no interest in being rescued.
Staffers at Georgina Animal Shelter learned about Riley and refused to give up on him. They tried time and time again to rescue him, until finally it paid off, and Riley was rescued from his lonely life in the woods.
“He wasn’t even in the shelter for more than a week when I stumbled across his page on Adopt-a-Pet.com and instantly fell in love with him,” Karlee Waldvogel, Riley’s new mom, told The Dodo. “It was his eyes that caught my attention and then his adorably dumb puppy face.”
When Waldvogel went to the shelter to take Riley home, she was shocked by how much energy he had. He had no training and had never lived inside before, so he had no idea how to act.
“I knew I was in for a long, hectic (in a good way though) journey with him,” Waldvogel said.
At first, Riley had a difficult time adjusting to his new home. He was very unsure of how to interact with other dogs, and had trouble learning the house rules of what was acceptable and what wasn’t. Over time, though, Riley transformed into a goofy, well-behaved dog who had all the love in the world to give — especially to his mom.
Waldvogel has generalized anxiety disorder, which sometimes causes her to have anxiety attacks that can be jarring and scary. Before Riley had even learned how to be a dog, he somehow seemed to know how to be a friend and help his mom with her anxiety attacks.
“From the start he was special because he instantly picked up on my anxiety attacks way in advance before me having them, so I am able to get somewhere comfortable or try to mitigate them,” Waldvogel said.
As soon as she realized how in tune Riley was to her anxiety, Waldvogel knew they were the perfect pair. Riley is now a certified service dog for his mom, and loves going everywhere with her to make sure she’s always feeling safe and happy.
“He has helped and changed my life in so many ways by allowing me to be more confident and he pushes me to get out of my comfort zone,” Waldvogel said.
Together, Riley and his mom have gone hiking, rock climbing and camping. There’s nothing the two of them can’t do when they’re together, and they continue to help and teach each other every day.
“Adopting this dog was the best decision I ever made,” Waldvogel said. “He has come such a long way and has made a positive impact on everyone he meets.”