Father Chris Riley – Why I have Great Danes

August 5, 2019

I grew up on a farm in Echuca and from an early age loved every animal I came across. From the chickens to the horses, I loved animals more than anything. So when I started my work helping young homeless kids on the streets of Kings Cross it made sense to do it with animals at my side. My horse, Sarah, was indispensable in those early days.

I quickly realised that Sarah would help me with my work beyond just providing transport and more height to look for those in need. I would ride her down the street and young people would emerge from the shadows. They would pet her and it was the perfect ice breaker. I would start to talk and help them as they pet Sarah – she was a vital assistant to the work I was doing. I then brought my Great Dane Collingwood along and inadvertently became an icon walking down the streets of Kings Cross.

Fast forward to today and I have three Great Danes. People might think I’m crazy, but there’s method in the madness. My organisation has grown considerably, but one thing has remained the same – animals help me with my work. As soon as I turn up to an event, and the three lumbering giants emerge from the van, young people will gather round and want to pet them. They help people be at ease and help start conversation.

I’m lucky because I’ve been able to build a career out of my passions – helping young people in need and animals. From the first day to the last day, I’ll always bring my dogs with me because they help me work.

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