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I am a volunteer foster for the animals rescued by Sheryl’s Den, West Milford, NJ, USA as they wait to find their forever homes. Two years and 30 fosters later, Riley came into my life. She was rescued from a kill shelter just a few days before she was scheduled to be euthanized. She was an adorable puppy, but extremely fearful and untrusting of humans. She had no social skills and would cower in the corner or hide in her crate. Her spirit seemed broken. We would sit together for hours, although she wouldn’t make eye contact. The resilience of youth started to shine through. Slowly, she began to learn to trust and accept my affection. Needless to say, Riley has become my new forever friend. Her gentle, loving nature has made her a natural surrogate mother/big/little sister to the fosters who have come after her. She takes on this role with great enthusiasm, often watching over them as they sleep. She shares her toys and will readily let them steal one from her mouth if they so desire. She cuddles and comforts them when they are overwhelmed with fear and uncertainty and is eager to encourage them to play a game of tag or tug or war. Riley is doing her part, helping our fosters gain confidence, discover the joys life holds and accept the loving hand of a human. She is truly paying it forward.

Debbie Eliassen
West Milford, NJ

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