In Los Angeles, waiters pass off their screenplays to dining producers, while bank tellers pitch a film to someone just cashing a check. Almost everyone in the city of 4 million people wants a piece of the Hollywood pie, so the next big movie star might be the guy bringing you an $18 steak at a diner off the 405.

Still, when one man waited in a quiet City of Angels suburb, he didn’t expect to see an up-and-coming talent. Nevertheless, a strange, if not cunning Golden Retriever caught his eye, and when he pulled out his camera to film the pooch, he had no idea he would be catapulting the canine onto a path towards fame…

If you took a stroll down a certain tree-lined Los Angeles street, you would see the usual markings of a lived-in neighborhood: parked cars, trash cans, and tall, tan garden walls. You would also see a very special resident: Riley.

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And in September of 2014, John Berchtold spent a lot of time on that aforementioned street because two of his friends lived there. One morning, as he waited outside their complex, he saw that special resident…

John saw Riley the dog, a five-year-old rescued Golden Retriever. He recalled “freaking out because of how strikingly cute the sight was.” See, Riley wasn’t just sitting on the sidewalk. He was behaving, well, strangely.

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The dog had flopped himself over the garden wall, just letting his paws dangle. And this wasn’t some foot-high wall — the dog was way up there, like, six feet off the ground. John knew this was a special moment.

He pulled out his smartphone and started filming the golden retriever because let’s face it, it’s not every day you see a dog casually hanging out on a garden wall. That’s when Riley, a camera in his face, put on a little show.

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The dog dropped a tennis ball onto the sidewalk at the foot of the garden wall and then stared at John. Then, Riley did not move. He hung there on that garden wall, watching the stranger.

On that quiet street, the two locked eyes. We like to imagine John heard Riley’s soft whisper on the wind, saying, throw me the ball because he soon understood what Riley wanted: someone to play with him.

John obliged. And in that magical moment where man and beast connected over a simple game of Toss the Tennis Ball, a mystery was born: how and where did this dog learn to do this? John knew just who to ask.

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John spoke with Riley’s owners. They explained that John was not the first person the dog tricked into playing. In fact, every single morning, Riley hung over the fence and dropped tennis balls and toys at the feet of passersby, hoping for a quick game.

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He also learned “everyone in the neighborhood knows Riley, and that he is THE friendly neighborhood dog.” Apparently, there was no animosity for this dog manipulating the masses into play time. Only love.

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John shared the video of Riley’s antics on the internet, and as you might’ve guessed, a video of a cute dog being a bit devious did pretty well there. Soon, word of Riley spread. People had to see him.

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Dog lovers traveled from far and wide to see this dog who never shied away from fame. Even with out-of-neighborhood strangers showing up en masse to toss his tennis ball, he kept his morning ritual intact.

Soon, Riley’s fans flooded their own social media with videos and pictures of the ball-dropping pup. Matt Nelson, below, the 22-year-old owner of the novelty Twitter account WeRateDogs, even paid Riley and visit and, well, rated him.

The Dallas Star

Matt rated Riley 14/10, which was mathematically impossible but still oddly fitting for such a talented dog. He was a bonafide animal superstar, after all, something his owners recognized. So they started thinking.

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They had a famous dog people were literally crossing county lines (and probably sitting in HEINOUS California traffic) to see: could they channel his positive energy and use it as a platform to make the world a better place?

So Riley (er, Riley’s owners) created an Instagram account to interact with his beloved fans. Through social media, he started giving friendly reminders on matters of varying degrees of importance.

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On November 8th, 2016, for instance, the golden retriever, whose account now boasts nearly 20,000 followers, reminded his friends to embrace their civic duties and go vote!

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And then on November 28th, 2017, Riley reminded his followers to embrace the holiday spirit. Give, donate, volunteer — help those less fortunate, you know? This explained Riley’s most recent undertaking.

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By the fall of 2018, Riley was training to be a therapy dog, so he could interact with people who were sick, or just a little bit down, and hopefully brighten their days. If this dog loved one thing more than playing ball, it was putting a smile on people’s faces!

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Just by dropping a tennis ball, Riley transformed a quiet Los Angeles block into a hub for dog lovers. And when you check out this video of Riley, you’ll understand why people were flocking to see him!