Finding a place to call home

By Brandi Bailey

February 21, 2013 Updated Feb 21, 2013 at 6:54 PM EDT

Danville, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Every animal at your local shelter or humane society has a story, a past that has shaped them. Riley is one of those dogs. We'll share his past and where he is today.

Riley, formerly known as Storm was one of 16 Dobermans removed from a house on Shaw Road in Conklin where he lived in deplorable conditions. He was covered in his own feces.

Riley was one of the lucky ones. Through just a picture on Petfinders Cindy Knowles and her family fell in love with him.

"When I met him he just looked at us and I knew he was coming home with us. It was like my dog was stuck in this cage and I had to do all this paperwork to get him out," Cindy Knowles said.

The Humane Society informed the Knowles family about Riley's past, but nothing would prepare them for life through Riley's eyes.

"I don't think we knew how completely broken he was," Knowles said.

Riley's eyes are still filled with doubt and fear.

"You see it in his face when you offer him something or you want to do something and he looks at you and he thinks about it," Knowles said.

Despite it all , the family doesn't blame Riley. In fact, they take all the pressure and put it on themselves.

"I think the biggest risk was failing," Knowles said.

Riley suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

It's generally known to affect people like Veterans coming home from war, but the Knowles family would argue that's exactly what Riley went through.

"He takes two steps forward and one step back and when he takes that step back we beat ourselves up like what did we do," Knowles said.

The first time Riley was taken off a leash outside he froze. He feared that he would be beaten for getting away.

The family soon realized that routine was the best thing for him.

"We always have to go in through the gate. We always have to stop in this spot to unhook the leash. You have to stand here when he does that," Knowles said.

While they've learned a lot of about Riley's past and how that will affect his future, Riley has taught his new family a few life lessons along the way.

"We have learned a lot about trust because you take that for granted with animals. They love you unconditionally. Not this dog. There is no love coming back from this dog, at least not yet. We've learned that trust is about safety for him," Knowles said.

The Knowles family adds they have no regrets about taking a dog with such special needs, and that trust is something the family is willing to earn.

Riley likes to lay in his bed at the corner of the kitchen where he can see throughout the entire house. It's also a place where he can look at the family that saved his life.