Hi, I’m Riley and it’s been almost 5 years since my March 18, 2013 rescue –the Midwest 10! It’s my #freedomversary! Want to celebrate with me as I tell all about my life today?
RFP: How did your family find you?
A local news story in LA featured the (then) Beagle Freedom Project and told about the rescue of the Spanish 40, and one of my dads saw it and called the TV station to get contact information. It moved very quickly from there, because my rescue was HAPPENING and they needed forever homes.
My dads had said, “Give us one of your hard-luck cases” so BFP referred them to me. I was very shy and afraid of EVERYTHING. I sat in my big bed at my fosters’ home and I just kind of quivered. I was curious about people, but very scared. So, if a person tried to hug me, I would freak out – or if I was trapped, I would tolerate it.
I went home with them the next week!
I’ve changed SO MUCH since then!
RFP: How did you get your name?
I was originally named Bobby, after Bob Barker, the celebrity who advocates for animal rights. But my dads changed it to Riley. They loved the expression “The Life of Riley” – meaning “an easy life” – so they changed my name to try to change my destiny.
I think it worked!
RFP: What kind of life did you have before us?
Unlike a lot of rescues, there was a complete file on me. So, my dads know that I was used for drug trials for a human drug. They know that I underwent gavage – force-feeding of the drug through a tube shoved down my esophagus.
They know my birthday. They know that I was bred specifically for laboratory testing, and they know that I was assigned a number. I had a name, too – but everyone’s pretty sure that was just for show and I was referred to by the number tattooed on my ear.
It’s pretty likely I was handled only with gloves and only for testing and examinations. Nobody petted me, that’s for sure!
Also – and I think I share this with other members of my rescue –I think I was made very aware that poop and pee were NOT good things and I was very ashamed. In fact, it was at least three months after my rescue before I would let my dads see me poop or pee. I would do it in secret.
I was also terrified of treats. I mean, I love food. (I’m a beagle!!) But I think treats always meant someone was trying to coax me to do something that would hurt. So, it took a long time before I would eat a treat in front of my dads or anyone. They would have to leave it on the floor and walk away. (The same is true for eating my regular food – it took months for me to eat in front of them!)
One time, when I had been in the family for about six or eight months, Lady Gaga was on TV, wearing all white with white makeup. I growled at the TV until my dads turned it off. My dads had never heard me growl before then! So, my dads guess people wore white in the lab where I was held for testing. When we go to the vet, my dads ask the staff there not to wear white coats in front of me. I’m better about that now. (In fact, I think the vet I just saw last week had on a white coat and I was fine – but it’s been almost exactly five years since I left the lab). And since then, I’ve seen Lady Gaga on TV wearing other things and I don’t growl at her. So, I don’t think it’s her.
RFP: How would you describe your perfect day?
I love to sleep with my dads on the bed or on the couch and I’m not wild about getting up early. I love to go for walks with my sister, Maggie and then veg out on the couch or on the bed with my dads.
When we’re in New York City, we can go off-leash in Central Park after 9:00 at night – and I love the freedom to wander a bit and smell everything, and then I catch up with my dads by running really fast when they call me. I love to run! I didn’t know how to do that until I was about 4 years old! Unlike many beagles, I love to come running when I’m called.
When we’re on Cape Cod, I LOVE the beach! Sometimes I walk slowly, sniffing everything. And sometimes I run like crazy on the sand!
People give me a lot of attention and sometimes I’m shy, but usually I let them pet me and I can smell if they have treats from quite far away!!
I play a little bit with my brother, Dexter-the-Cat. We snuggle a lot for sleep. There’s another cat – Katie – and she mostly bothers me, but once we get settled I sleep well with her.
I go for four walks a day – which I love. I want to sniff and smell EVERYTHING. I also pick up every piece of paper I see and then I drop it when my dads say “drop it.” Sometimes I pick one back up and have the pleasure of dropping it again when they tell me to! It’s a great game!
And I have lots of toys.
Of course, I get my food – which I love. I try to eat my sister’s food, but she growls at me, so I stay away. Sort of.
RFP: What do you call yourself?
I call myself the “Little Man” of the house. I stand up tall with a firm stance, and I check on everything to make sure it’s where it should be.
I used to be scared of people coming into the house, but now I greet them at the door! And sometimes I even bark at them! Not too much, but just enough to let them know it’s my house!
RFP: If you had a job, what would it be?
Um… I have several jobs!
- Sniffing, shredding, and chewing every piece of paper I can find – in the house, on the sidewalk… you name it!
- I also am fully committed to getting my belly rubbed while lying on the couch or the bed. If someone stops, I will use my paws to guide their hand back to my belly so they can continue to pay attention to me.
- It’s my job to overturn any trash cans in the house and play with the trash (I guess that’s’ why everything is locked in the bathrooms!) And sometimes I get up in the middle of the night to do that, if any trash cans are left out.
- It’s also my job to go through briefcases, purses, backpacks, etc., to look for paper and hidden food. I’m great at opening zippers and things. (I guess that’s why those things are put in the bathroom or up high where I can’t reach them!)
- I also know how to open the closets and play with things and find the container of dog food and open it. (I guess that’s why the closet doors are closed with bungees.)
RFP: What is your name for your family?
Well, we call ourselves the Barrett-Lippman family. But really, it’s just Riley and the Gang. After years of feeling insecure, I now feel full ownership of this family. (Okay, I share ownership with Maggie the Terrier Mix.) But I still call us Riley and the Gang.
RFP: What do you do when your dads are not at home?
First of all… we should be out with our dads. If they’re not home… what’s the deal with that? We should be with them! We let them know that, for sure!
When my family isn’t at home, I love to have the TV on in the background. I may go on explorations of the house and discover things that have been there for years but suddenly become toys and get chewed.
I do lie by the front door and sniff really hard as people walk past – so I can smell them.
Also, I sleep a lot.
RFP: What do you and the other dogs/cats/animals in the home talk about?
We talk about what we are going to eat, what we did eat, and what we can find to eat.
We talk about the fact that I steal the cat toys and Maggie steals some of my treats. It all works out.
I, personally, do NOT like to be awakened or moved while sleeping. I growl loudly if my dads move their feet in bed and it disturbs me. I also growl at Maggie and the cats if they wake me.
Maggie and I snuggle together a lot – when we mutually agree to do so. And sometimes, we like our space. We have found a way to work that out.
RFP: Favorite memory
Lots of great memories!!
- Learning to walk up and down stairs for the first time – my first week in the house (we lived in Los Angeles then); I didn’t want to be left alone on one floor while everyone else was upstairs (or downstairs)!
- Playing with my first toy! I never had a toy before! I was very possessive of this toy. I destroy toys! Chew them to smithereens!
- My first time walking on grass – new and odd! But now it’s “old hat.”
- Moving across the country was scary, but I loved snow and I still do!
- I was a model for Vogue online in a story about rescuing beagles from labs!
- I appeared in a TV news piece about beagles in labs!
- Our State Assembly Rep invited me to a party and a photo shoot to celebrate the passage of the Beagle Freedom Bill in New York State – and I was in her newsletter!
- The first time I howled, everyone laughed because they weren’t sure I had a voice! But I showed them! I started howling at toddlers. And I howl at other dogs when I want to play with them!
- I JUST started howling on the way downstairs in our building to let my dads know I love going for walks and they should hurry up and get the lead out! The first time was more than FOUR YEARS after I joined the family!
- People who haven’t seen me in a long time are so amazed at how I’ve grown and changed from a scared little boy to the Little Man of the house!
RFP: Any Favorites
I love Central Park in New York and the bayside beach in Provincetown, MA.
RFP: What is your biggest pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve is when people try to show me love or sympathy in a way that scares me. I know what I’m comfortable with, so when people try to chase me so they can hug me, it really bothers me. I want them to know that I’m okay – and I need to be a part of the decision about how close I get and when and how I can walk away.
Sometimes people feel so badly about my past that they want to smother me and that makes me feel trapped. I don’t like that.
Even now, when I’m known to be very friendly, I don’t want to feel trapped.
RFP: Who is your best friend?
I think my dads are my best friends. But I love my sister, Maggie – and I don’t like going places without her!
They call me Little Man and Riles Barkley. Otherwise, it’s pretty much Riley.
RFP: One word to describe you
I am proof that patience and love can change your destiny. My dads were soooooo patient and they let me be me. I think sometimes it made them sad and sometimes it made them frustrated. But I showed them that even with terrifying beginnings, there is hope.
Loving families can make a difference. I’m not quite like other dogs. But I am happy and howling and much more trusting than anyone ever thought I would be!
RFP: Something you do that makes your family laugh
Much of what I do makes my family smile – and makes them proud. But they can’t stop laughing when I snore, bark, and run in my sleep. I’m a very loud snorer.