Meet Shawn Riley

Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'

If you first encountered this man via a distilled bio, you might wonder if he was Superman. Shawn lives full-throttle, finding joy in everything from training dogs to mountain climbing, driving (fast!), and “watching the little finches play in the birdbath I put out for them.”

He was born an animal lover.

“My family owned a horse boarding/training facility in Pasadena. At one time we had four dogs, four cats, two birds, lizards, snakes, squirrels, ducks, and a little donkey we got from a passing woman, and rats my sister and I raised and trained.”

Shawn’s training style is unique, and he’s excited about it. “I get to save dogs’ lives every day! They’re perfect; if you put the information in properly, they are the most loyal, most trustworthy creatures you could ever find.”

“Currently I have about 12 client dogs in my back yard — from a 3-lb Cockapoo to a 90-lb Rottie. All loose and free. My group rotates every day: new dogs arrive while others leave. They're happy, have a deep-set respect for me, and they're excited to see me. Imagine looking out and seeing 20 dogs in the yard and there's no aggression — no barking, no jumping on gates or fences, not even going after a squirrel. My place is meticulous; there is no digging. I train without clickers or choke chains or treats.”

His guilty pleasures include “Haagen Daaz ice cream! I could eat a half-gallon at one time.” Then there’s that need for speed. “I've got a 200-mile-an-hour motorcycle, and I love taking it to PIR.” 

Few know that, as a child on summer trips to their Eastern Oregon cabin, “I would get on a horse without saddle or bridle, and let them take me up into the mountains. When I was ready to go home, I would go to sleep on its back, and when I woke up, we would be home, or in the meadow just above the cabin. My mom would worry, but changing me was like trying to put a hurricane in a bottle.”

Shawn has a deep love for family. “Also my belief and devotion to a high level of moral standards is huge. I will never sacrifice my integrity for money or what somebody else thinks.”

He treasures hand-painted Christmas ornaments his late sister made for him while she awaited a heart transplant. “Each one had to have taken three hours, and there are 50 of them.”

“Also, when my daughter was little, her hair was past her butt, and I would braid it every day. When she first wanted to cut her hair, I asked her to wait and be sure, but when it finally happened, I put it into a pony tail first and I still have it. She's 28 now, and says I should throw it away. No way! If the house was on fire, that’s one of the things I’d grab.” Shawn and his daughter are now training to climb Aconcagua together, in the Andes, “the highest mountain outside of Asia.”

When asked what shoe was so him, he replied, “My Keens — they're goofy-looking, fat, stubby and wide, but they're the toughest shoes. I love them.” Soon after, he sent a list of four more shoes, saying just one couldn’t personify him.

He loves Oregon’s seasons. “I love a great winter: snow and being locked down hard for a while. Traffic and activity stops, and you get with family. I also love spring — that’s when my place looks the most beautiful. And fall, because everything is changing. My favorite thing is the differences, to have four true seasons is what I adore.”

A musical Renaissance guy, Shawn appreciates a little of everything. Favorite movies include Billy Jack, Dances with Wolves and Million Dollar Baby.

Currently without a pet of his own, Shawn is satisfied to help homeless dogs find families. “My dogs are the clients who are here all the time, coming and going.”

He also supports anyone who fosters dogs. “I donate my time to any foster organization — anyone who fosters can call me any time.”

His #1 bucket-list item is “To help people to understand the importance of getting a good philosophy of training their dogs before they get them. I've traveled the world, done extreme stuff everywhere, and that's the work I need to get done.”

About our Sponsor

Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years.  In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare.  Proprietors Michael, Randy and Hunter live in Sherwood. 

Christy Caballero writes from her soul about animals and their humans. She lives with three big greyhounds and one slightly neurotic foster greyhound -- who never wants to leave. Ever.