Dog Rockets To Fame After People See The Trick He Pulls On Strangers

Almost everyone in Los Angeles wants a piece of the Hollywood pie, so the next big movie star might be the guy bringing you an $18 steak at a diner off the 405. Still, when one man waited in a quiet City of Angels suburb, he didn’t expect to see an up-and-coming talent. A clever Golden Retriever caught his eye, and when he pulled out his camera to film the pooch, he had no idea he would be catapulting the canine onto a path towards fame…

If you took a stroll down a certain tree-lined Los Angeles street, you would see the usual markings of a lived-in neighborhood: parked cars, trash cans, and tall, tan garden walls. You would also see a very special resident: Riley.

itsriley / Instagram

And in September of 2014, John Berchtold spent a lot of time on that aforementioned street because two of his friends lived there. One morning, as he waited outside their complex, he saw that special resident…

John saw Riley the dog, a five-year-old rescued Golden Retriever. He recalled “freaking out because of how strikingly cute the sight was.” See, Riley wasn’t just sitting on the sidewalk. He was behaving, well, strangely.

itsriley / Instagram

The dog had flopped himself over the garden wall, just letting his paws dangle. And this wasn’t some foot-high wall — the dog was way up there, like, six feet off the ground. John knew this was a special moment.

He pulled out his smartphone and started filming the golden retriever because, let’s face it, it’s not every day you see a dog casually hanging out on a garden wall. That’s when Riley, a camera in his face, put on a little show.

itsriley / Instagram

The dog dropped a tennis ball onto the sidewalk at the foot of the garden wall and then stared at John. Then, Riley did not move. He hung there on that garden wall, watching the stranger.

On that quiet street, the two locked eyes. We like to imagine John heard Riley’s soft whisper on the wind, saying, throw me the ball because he soon understood what Riley wanted: someone to play with him.

John obliged. And in that magical moment where man and beast connected over a simple game of Toss the Tennis Ball, a mystery was born: how and where did this dog learn to do this? John knew just who to ask.

itsriley / Instagram

John spoke with Riley’s owners. They explained that John was not the first person the dog tricked into playing. In fact, every single morning, Riley hung over the fence and dropped tennis balls and toys at the feet of passersby, hoping for a quick game.

itsriley / Instagram

He also learned “everyone in the neighborhood knows Riley, and that he is THE friendly neighborhood dog.” Apparently, there was no animosity for this dog manipulating the masses into play time. Only love.

itsriley / Instagram

John shared the video of Riley’s antics on the internet, and as you might’ve guessed, a video of a cute dog being a bit devious did pretty well there. Soon, word of Riley spread. People had to see him.

itsriley / Instagram

Dog lovers traveled from far and wide to see this dog who never shied away from fame. Even with out-of-neighborhood strangers showing up en masse to toss his tennis ball, he kept his morning ritual intact.

Soon, Riley’s fans flooded their own social media with videos and pictures of the ball-dropping pup. Matt Nelson, below, the 22-year-old owner of the novelty Twitter account WeRateDogs, even paid Riley and visit and, well, rated him.

The Dallas Star

Matt rated Riley 14/10, which was mathematically impossible but still oddly fitting for such a talented dog. He was a bonafide animal superstar, after all, something his owners recognized. So they started thinking.

itsriley / Instagram

They had a famous dog people were literally crossing county lines (and probably sitting in HEINOUS California traffic) to see: could they channel his positive energy and use it as a platform to make the world a better place?

So Riley (er, Riley’s owners) created an Instagram account to interact with his beloved fans. Through social media, he started giving friendly reminders on matters of varying degrees of importance.

itsriley / Instagram

On November 8th, 2016, for instance, the golden retriever, whose account now boasts nearly 20,000 followers, reminded his friends to embrace their civic duties and go vote!

itsriley / Instagram

And then on November 28th, 2017, Riley reminded his followers to embrace the holiday spirit. Give, donate, volunteer — help those less fortunate, you know? This explained Riley’s most recent undertaking.

itsriley / Instagram

By the fall of 2018, Riley was training to be a therapy dog, so he could interact with people who were sick, or just a little bit down, and hopefully brighten their days. If this dog loved one thing more than playing ball, it was putting a smile on people’s faces!

itsriley / Instagram

Just by dropping a tennis ball, Riley transformed a quiet Los Angeles block into a hub for dog lovers. It makes sense, after all, dogs are very social creatures. Just check out what this pooch from Kentucky does when he feels like he needs a friend.

When Tyler Wilson spotted a lost dog at a gas station near his home in Kentucky, he was, understandably, concerned. This was a highly trafficked area and no place for a pooch. The dog was clearly on his own, too. Was he hurt? Lost?

Tyler actually first saw the dog, who appeared to be a yellow Labrador, wandering around town a few days earlier and he was really curious about his situation. Why on Earth was this pooch roaming around town, and did he need help?

Deciding that something had to be done to bring this lost dog to safety, Tyler snapped a couple of photographs on the sly. He was worried that the animal would be skittish and shy in his presence, so he kept his distance.

Tyler decided he should try to make physical contact with the Labrador so he could get him to a safe place. Still, he was relieved to have the photos as a backup, just in case the dog suddenly ran off. But that didn’t seem to be the case.

At that moment, the dog did something unexpected that simply stunned Tyler: he trotted right over to him, tail wagging and ready for belly rubs! If this dog was lost, he clearly didn’t mind. Why did he act like he didn’t have a care in the world?

That was when Tyler spotted a tag on the dog’s collar. He decided to take a look; perhaps he’d find a phone number or the address of the dog’s owner. But what he saw instead changed everything…

Rather than an address, the tag had a simple message—and it was unlike anything Tyler had seen before. It read: “My name is Dew. I am not lost. I like to roam. Tell me to go home.” Clearly, it wasn’t the first time this dog had taken to the streets!

Tyler couldn’t help but smile, and he warmly introduced himself to Dew. After a few moments of bonding, they parted ways. Tyler, intrigued by Dew’s story, did a little research once he got home…

It turned out that Dew was something of a celebrity in Tyler’s tiny Kentucky town—and he had his own social media presence to prove it! As his name tag implied, this was a dog who loved to roam and make new friends.

At the end of the day, however, there was just one place he called home. When Tyler clicked through the photos on Dew’s Facebook page, he saw what a charmed life the dog led…

Dew actually lived with his adoring family on a sprawling 70-acre farm in the area. When he was just a puppy, he demonstrated a passion for escaping from his home and going on epic adventures.

At first, his family was worried, but soon they discovered that it was just his curious nature! They let Dew roam as much as he wanted to; at the end of the day, he always came back home. His mom, Mandy, always knew she’d see him soon!

Dew gathered such a following over time that he actually had his very own Facebook page where his fans could follow him on all of his adventures! He became somewhat of a local celebrity for all the people he’d met.

It wasn’t just humans that Dew loved hanging out with, either. He couldn’t get enough of other pups! Dew loved spending time with his sister, Lily, a black Labrador who preferred to hold down the fort back on their farm.

Still, even a dog as energetic and curious as Dew needed to take a break from time to time. He wasn’t picky about where he rested his weary head. Dew especially loved to cuddle up on the couch and sleep.

But Dew was willing to eschew creature comforts in a pinch, too. He made sure to take advantage of this drying umbrella and catch an adorable cat nap. (Or should we say “dognap?”)

There was no other dog out there who loved adventure quite the way Dew did. Everywhere he went, he practically radiated happiness and joy. He simply loved being outdoors!

But for as much as Dew loved to spend time outside, he loved the company of people—especially his humans—even more. Mandy, her husband, and her son all cherished their roaming pooch in kind!

For Dew, every day held some new adventure or excitement. Even when he was dreaming, you could tell that this dog was probably scheming about his next trip out on the town…

From the cat to the kids, Dew was always content to cuddle up with his own tribe and rest up for the next great outing. He might’ve led an unconventional life, but it suited this unconventional dog just fine!

As it turns out, Dew isn’t the only pup that likes to roam around. While there are a number of elements that can make a hike memorable, one Washington dog had a way of making hikers’ experience truly one-of-a-kind.

When 40-year-old Scott Brown moved to Seattle with his wife back in 2012, it didn’t take long for the outdoors lover to involve himself in the local non-profit, “Recovery beyond Paradigm.”

Scott Brown / Facebook

With the organization, Scott, an avid hiker, connected those struggling with drug and alcohol addictions to nature, taking them on hikes to help with their recovery processes.

Scott Brown / Facebook

In April 2018, he, his wife Get Naka, and a small group of recovering men and women, prepared for a hike into Teneriffe Falls near North Bend, Washington. They hadn’t even left the parking lot when Scott spotted something.

Scott Brown / Facebook

At the entrance of the snow-covered trailhead, a curious dog watched the hikers preparing for their expedition. Scott figured he belonged to residents of one of the houses across the street.

The dog looked friendly enough and content. Most importantly, he did look familiar with his surroundings — not lost. Scott pointed the dog out to his wife. “I made a joke… that it was a bear,” he said.

When the hikers finally embarked on the 7-mile long hike, however, the dog joined the pack of humans. Did he have a milk bone addiction he was trying to shake and thought the support of others in recovery would help?

Scott and his crew navigated a few hundred yards down the trail, and the dog kept up with them every step of the way. Scott laughed. “Well,” he said, “I guess he’s coming with us.”

The dog proved a perfect hiking companion. When Scott, his wife, or any of their fellow hikers paused for a picture, the dog stopped and waited. When the group started moving again, the dog followed.

In fact, hiking the trail came so naturally to the pooch, he eventually took the lead! “He took the lead anywhere from a couple feet to way out in front, out of sight,” Scott said of the pooch.

Eventually, the hiking party reached the waterfall, where Scott took photos not of the serene landscape, but of the new friend he made along the trail. Still, he had a handful of questions.

Like, who was this dog and where had he come from? Why was he acting like the lost member of a sled dog team? How was he so supremely confident on the snowy trails? To better understand their hiking partner, Scott’s friend checked the dog’s tags for a name…

The dog wore blue tags that featured heavily chipped-away writing on each side, and Scott’s friend read his name was Smokey — like the old bear that warned us of forest fires — and learned a few other details about this mysterious dog.

See, the front of his tags said, “Hi, I’m Smokey. I live nearby so please don’t take me. I like to follow hikers sometimes.” Then, the friend flipped the tag over and read the back!

“Don’t worry,” the name tag read, “I’ll go home when I get tired. My people love me a lot. Thanks for being nice!” Dying with laughter, Scott’s friend relayed the messages to Scott.

Scott didn’t believe him…until he checked the tags for himself! “And, sure enough,” he said, “coolest thing ever.” It seemed this wasn’t the first time Smokey tagged along for a hike! You have to wonder, though…

What happened in the dog’s past that the owners went out and bought those tags for him? Scott thought about this as the dog led him and the hikers back up the trailhead.

On the way back, Smokey proved just as good. He only barked once, when Scott made a semi-dangerous climb along a half-frozen embankment. “He seemed very protective for someone he just met,” Scott said.

Smokey walked with the hikers all the way back to the parking lot and sat in the cold with his new friends until they were changed out of their hiking gear and ready to hit the road. And then?

Smokey “calmly walked across the road and back into the neighborhood,” Scott said, “At the corner, he gave out a quick bark at us then continued on back home, I assume.” How cool!

If someone told Scott the dog was actually an ancient spirit sent to protect him, he might’ve believed it. Smokey proved to be an incredible — if not mysterious — dog and he made the hike one to remember!

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