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A bench for lil Riley

by: VERN UYETAKE Diane Schweissutz and Riley both enjoy his new bench.

If Riley the dog can't make you happy, you are hopeless.

In fact, Riley can even make hopeless people happy.

Twice a day, every day Riley wends his way around downtown Lake Owego led by his owner Diane Schweisguth, going into many businesses to love and to be loved. Riley is a white, furry bundle of joy and energy, and attention must be paid to him.

Yet even Riley has to catch his breath occasionally, and that is why he has 'Riley's Bench' right in front of Chocolates by Bernard Callebaut on Fifth Street.

'Riley is a people dog,' understates Laura Adler, co-owner of Bernard C's. 'He's just hilarious. You've got to get your Riley fix for the day.'

Adler and her partner, Barbara Cameron, loved Riley so much they decided to place a lovely gold plaque on the bench that said 'Riley's Bench.' It's Riley's bench. Other people just sit on it.

How did Riley's Bench turn out to be Riley's Bench? It's a rather exciting story. Schweisguth was taking Riley out for his usual walk one day when the little dog was suddenly scared by the sound of a skateboard.

'He didn't stop running until he got to this bench,' said Schweisguth, who was running just as hard in order to hold onto Riley's leash. 'He decided this was the bench he liked the best.' Riley jumped up on the bench. Safety at last.

Schweisguth has been having lots of fun ever since she adopted Riley from a rescue shelter a year ago. She was in the market for a 'perfect dog' and found one: A Coton de Tulear, a breed from Madagascar.

'I wanted a breed good for the townhouse where I live,' Schweisguth said. 'Riley is fun, he's a great companion dog, he's friendly and he doesn't shed.'

As soon as Riley spotted Schweisguth he started bouncing, so she figured he must be the dog for her. Since then he has been helping her win friends and influence people. Riley cannot be taken into shops that sell food, but Crave Bake Shop made him gluten-free doggie treats.

'Diane has met so many people since she got Riley,' said Adler, at Bernard C's.

'It shows how supportive this community is,' Schweisguth said. 'The people here really care.'

Although Riley is already perfect, he still can improve. Once the 1 ½-year-old pooch gets a little calmer, Schweisguth plans to train him to be a therapy dog to visit retirement centers.

When that happens, a lot more Lake Oswegans will be getting their Riley fix.