BELMONT, NC (WBTV) - It's a far better advertisement than money can buy - a dog loves his doggy daycare so much, he runs away from home and makes the one-mile trek through town to get there.
That's exactly what happened to Riley the golden retriever. On May 7, Riley's mom, Tonia Mosteller, took him for a ride through town. Their trip took them right past Happy Dog Café in downtown Belmont where Riley saw a leash full of his friends being walked by a staff member.
The dog started whining as they drove away, and his owner had to break the news that he wasn't scheduled to visit doggy daycare that day.
Mosteller dropped Riley off at home and told her son the dog was on the back deck taking in the nice weather.
"I noticed Riley watching me carefully as I left, but I didn't think too much about it," Mosteller said.
Riley is a smart dog. Less than an hour later, he showed up at the front door of Happy Dogs Café and Daycare.
"I walked outside to see if Tonia was right behind him, and she wasn't," Happy Doge Café owner Teresa McCarter said.
McCarter opened the door and Riley went running straight back to the daycare area where at least 20 of his barking pals were waiting.
"He knows the way up here because they walk him all the time, so he just decided to put himself in daycare that day," McCarter said.
Happy Dogs quickly called Riley's owners and told them about their dog's daring escape. Riley had opened the back fence all by himself and made his way to where he wanted to be. His parents said they'd come get him and McCarter offered to let him stay the day.
"And he got a free day of daycare and he worked really hard for that day," McCarter said with a chuckle.
Riley's fence has now been secured with the hopes he won't figure it out, but his owners are keeping an even closer eye on him now… and are taking him to daycare more often.
"It's a true testimony to how much he loves Happy Dogs and the staff there," Mosteller said.