Riley – TDI (handler Marc)
Meet Riley, who completed his 200th visit to Shriners Hospital for Children in April 2017 and was featured on WFLA TV in Tampa for this reaching this wonderful milestone! There was also a very special article published in the Shriner’s Newsletter about Riley and Marc highlighting this achievement!
As of May 2018, Riley has now received the Therapy Dog International Remarkable Volunteer Award and TDI recognition title of TDIRVA for completing 250 documented therapy visits. Congratulations Riley and Marc for this fabulous accomplishment!
Riley was adopted in November 2010 at 8 months of age and displayed an eagerness to learn. “His personality, his intelligence, his love of people and his wanting to please shown through and we knew he had potential to be a therapy dog,” reports Dad. “He excelled at basic and advanced obedience, agility, sport rally, and some utility dog training. We were encouraged to enter him in AKC sanctioned events for titles but in our heart we knew Riley had more important things to do. It took about 18 months before we felt Riley was ready to test for therapy work. Anyone with a healthy 2 year old Golden knows the challenges. One big help channeling his energy was walks several times a day which also helped socialize Riley. He got to meet people of all ages and learned how to interact in an appropriate way.” At 2 years of age Riley became certified with Therapy Dogs International, Inc. (TDI).
Today, Riley volunteers at Shriners Hospital for Children in Tampa which has a tremendous canine therapy program. He is a natural at the hospital and has earned the trust to be allowed not only in patients’ rooms but also in some of the preparation and recovery areas. The physical therapists are experts of leveraging the pups to encourage the children in their sometimes grueling exercises turning work into fun. The amount of ways Riley has been used is limited only by the imagination of the hospital staff.
One example is the following story shared by Riley’s Dad – “During one visit a staff member came to us explaining there was a child outside who was afraid to enter the facility and thought Riley could be of help. Outside on a bench we found a young boy sobbing. As soon as Riley put his head in the boy’s lap and looked up with those big brown eyes, the flood of tears stopped. The boy started to pet Riley as I explained that Riley was a therapy dog and his whole job at the hospital was to play with the children and make them feel better. We talked a lot about Riley and dogs in general. When I asked if he would like to take a walk, the young boy instantly he tensed up, but I suggested the sidewalk that led AWAY from the front door. Gradually things calmed down and he enjoyed petting Riley as we walked. When he relaxed, I mentioned Riley needed to go into the air conditioning to cool off and asked if he would help me bring Riley inside. He nodded and with his hand on Riley he now confidently walked into the hospital like he owned it. Once inside he sat down in the waiting room as his grandmother checked him in for his appointment. He continued to stroke and pet Riley who responded with deep sighs. Riley helped him get over his initial fear and the young boy decided that if Riley worked there it must be a pretty nice place.”
Riley, in addition to his service to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Tampa, is also involved with the “Tail Wagging Tutors” program at local libraries which encourages children to read to dogs while building their confidence.
We will continue to update Riley’s therapy adventures and the wonderful work he is doing within his community.
(Photos courtesy of Shriners Hospital for Children in Tampa)