Collaborating in Puerto Rico/ May 6, 2016
It’s important to note that some of the groups asking for donations and collecting money are not nonprofits. (I encourage you to visit the Puerto Rico Secretary of State to verify if an organization is registered and cross reference Great Nonprofits.)
After visiting a shelter in Humacao where their team was preparing 150 dogs for transport to the New York area, we visited a woman handling rescue on her own. She took time off from her job to show us her modest animal housing: crates and kennels under a roof plus food, water and, above all, safety. She drove us to one of the “feeding stations,” a remote place where packs of stray dogs live. The dogs are very fearful of humans and capturing them would require funding for traps and a place for the captured dogs. Taking a dog to a shelter is a certain death sentence — as many as 200 dogs are euthanized daily at many of the shelters.
After a visit to Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF), a 17-year-old organization that has made great strides, including an aggressive spay/neuter initiative, we visited Carolyn, the person who saved Rex and Rollo (now available for adoption at DVGRR). Rollo kept approaching Carolyn when she was at the beach searching for sea glass for her jewelry-making business. She would approach but refused to go with her. Then Carolyn followed Rollo, and she led her to Rex, her brother, that was near death. He was all bones, skin black and falling off from mange. She scooped him up and got them to veterinary care.
We were then navigating to what we understood was a shelter, traveling up a road only wide enough for our van with precipitous drops on either side… holding our collective breath, when we had to stop to ask for directions. The person we asked turned out to be a rescuer and took us to her yard to show us the dogs she had. When she learned who we were, she call a friend who had Goldens and gave us the another contact that we visited.
As we maneuvered down the mountain, we asked each other, “What are chances that we would get lost, and run into a rescue person who was just getting ready to leave and who would give us another contact?” Rescue works in mysterious ways sometimes.
Our driver, Carlos, sat with us during meetings to translate when needed. He said he KNEW about stray dogs; he saw stray dogs, but his eyes were really never opened until he heard our conversations and understood the overwhelming challenges these individuals and groups face. He told us he is forever changed and wanted to come see Golden Gateway. We were so surprised when Carlos and his tour partner, Alexandra, were in the Philadelphia area to visit friends and called us on May 5th to tell us they would be arriving at 3:00 p.m.!
We saw a Doodle running down the road and the image epitomized the entire trip. When I sent the image to DVGRR Board President, Heidi Shore, she said, “It must be difficult to see that.” My reply: “It’s even more difficult to ignore it.”
This Doodle will be coming to Golden Gateway after receiving immediate veterinary care and the requisite 14-day quarantine prior to traveling. Her rescuer told us what we already know about the dogs coming from Puerto Rico: “She’s sweet.”
We know the next question asked is: “Why help these dogs when there are so many homeless dogs in the United States?” Last year, at a conference of the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators, we broke into various roundtables to discuss challenges and share best practices. I sat at the table with an agenda titled, “What do we do when we run out of adoptable dogs?” “Adoptable dogs” means dogs that present no issues that prevent a dog from being adopted responsibly and the type of dog an average family with children can adopt without concern of behavioral issues. Shelters should not remain half or completely empty when they can help dogs from an area that is drowning in adoptable strays with great temperaments.
At DVGRR, we have the team and skills to help, and having seen conditions in Puerto Rico, we cannot turn our backs on the Golden Retrievers, mixed Goldens, and some Labrador Retrievers as our space permits. These dogs have wonderful personalities and are great with children, get along with other dogs and cats. Most of all, when the dogs arrive and settle in, receive ALL veterinary care needed to fully disclose their health and temperament, we see their personalities and utter joy emerge as they play and receive affection from our team.
We returned exhausted, emotionally and physically, but committed to continue to raise the funds to support this effort. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
PS. The Doodle’s name is Paige, and there are five dogs waiting to come into our care. You can help out with a donation to our Cody Medical Fund.
A farmer walks in with a Golden…/ April 21, 2016
So, a farmer walks into the vet’s office with a Golden…
No, this isn’t a joke.
Yesterday, we received a call to get a Golden from a veterinarian’s office. A farmer brought the old girl in to be euthanized. He was done with her. Didn’t need her anymore.
The vet (THANK YOU!) called us and within an hour, volunteer, Lorrie Buck was on her way to bring her into our care.
We met a sweet, white-faced Golden with a BEAUTIFUL head… obviously she has some decent bloodlines behind her. Heather and Jess got her settled into her kennel in the Lynne Glennon Sanctuary for Senior Goldens and Puppy Mill Survivors, gave her some water and snuggling, and allowed her to rest. About an hour later, Jess walked back into check on her and found blood. Jess went into overdrive and found a tiny, tiny puppy, no bigger than a hand. He weighs six ounces.
Mama’s tail was wagging and she was smiling ear to ear as the team worked to get her into a warm room. We have no whelping box because, well, we had another surprise two weeks ago when a Golden surprised us with three tiny puppies. (NOTE: WE HAVE APPLICANTS WAITING FOR PUPPIES, SO ALL THE PUPPIES WILL HAVE HOMES)
I quickly ordered a whelping box to be shipped two-day express despite the cost, and Inza and Heather went to local pet stores looking for heating pads.
This morning, it seems the puppy was fading, so we quickly put mama and baby in the van and John and Marie went speeding off to Hope Veterinary in Malvern for critical care.
When the team sits on the side of the desk wearing the “business” hats, we think about the thousands of dollars that will go into the care for mama and this little boy. With an “always in the red Cody Medical Fund,” we also think about the money this farmer made off this sweet girl… but more on that later.
When we allow ourselves to remove that hat and be the soft-hearted caregivers, it’s pretty tough to get through a day.
I am ashamed of Lancaster County. We see TV commercials daily about visiting beautiful, bucolic Lancaster County as a horse-drawn buggy clip clops down a country road, past a beautiful farm. Many of these farms hide cruelty and neglect that should never be allowed in this day and age.
Local TV stations won’t do an exposé on these farms because two decades ago, one of the stations was sued. No one – not our local government – will do anything to stop it.
So, here’s MY beef as a tax payer:
The farmer has a lot of acreage. He also has 24 dogs. He doesn’t need a kennel license if he’s under 25 dogs. Additionally, he’s so far off the grid that no one KNOWS he has 24 dogs. They’re all kept inside a barn in cages. If the dogs are barkers, they are “debarked”… and you don’t want to know how that’s done.
The farmer then gave son or daughter acreage, and they built their home and farm on the parcel deeded to them. They live “next door” to each other. The farmer’s son or daughter has 24 dogs.
They are now blessed with factory farming with an inventory of 48 dogs. The dogs go into season at six months and are bred immediately. Reputable breeders wait until their dogs are two-years old and have hip, eye, and heart clearances before breeding.
Let’s say those 48 dogs have small litters – four puppies. Most litters are six or more puppies. Some, a whopping 12!
Four puppies from 48 dogs = 192 puppies twice a year = 384 puppies. Some farmers use a broker who pays them (this is a low guestimate) $200.00 per puppy. That’s $76,800.00 A YEAR.
The farmers breed dogs until litters start to get smaller, meaning the female is “used up.” We’ll average that age at 7 years old. $76,800.00 a year x 7 years = $537,600.00. Is it TAX FREE? We can’t unequivocally prove it, but it is, in my experience and opinion, an underground economy.
I haven’t heard of a farmer who takes credit cards. I do know that families go to farms and buy puppies, and although there is no proof, I’m betting none of that is declared at tax time.
We’ll keep you informed how both our mothers are doing and hope you’ll keep both of them in your thoughts.
Thank you, Heather and Jess for all the time you gave and John and Marie for putting aside their long list of daily tasks to take mama to Hope. At times like this, it is emotional to watch everyone pull together – they put themselves and their families aside to do what is necessary for the dogs.
A Team in Tears / Feb. 25, 2016
I arrived this morning to see the team in tears.
Loki had been turned into us because he had a heart murmur. We took Loki for a veterinary cardiac consult and learned that the “murmur” turned out to be sub-aortic stenosis, the most common type of inherited heart disease in Goldens and other large breeds.
Twenty-five years ago, we saw this in our breed; however, due to responsible breeding, we saw a dramatic decline. In well-bred dogs, it became a non-issue. Responsible breeders, before producing offspring, continue to have their stud/dam undergo a cardiac ultrasound to be sure this and other genetic issues aren’t passed to the offspring.
We knew Loki’s days were going to be numbered, and we knew it was unlikely he would find a home willing to take on the impending sadness.
With dogs like this, we follow the advice of our old friend, Dr. Scott Krick, who always told me (when facing a terminal diagnosis in one of my dogs), “LET HIM BE A DOG.” Twenty-five years later, we still espouse that advice.
So, we let Loki be a dog and play with members of the kennel and with our staff. He loved frolicking in the snow, rolling in the mud, and greeting everyone with a big toothy grin and a wagging tail that produced a resounding thud as it hit the kennel walls.
This morning, he was out with his pack of playmates, running, barking, and chasing each other with glee, when he suddenly dropped over. CPR did nothing to revive him. His death was instant and we hope painless. He died doing what he loved best and with his new “family” that adored him when the other family rejected him.
THIS is why people MUST stop buying dogs online, from pet stores, and from “farm-raised by loving family.” All of that is crap. That bargain puppy is never a bargain, and shelters are full of dogs that were thrown away by the families that promised to provide for them forever… until something arose to make them “inconvenient” or “too expensive.”
Because of you, our Cody Medical Fund provided the resources for the diagnosis and medication to allow him a few months of joy and love.
I get angry that people turn in a dog when he/she develops an illness or issue that they don’t want to cope with. I hate to see any member of this team cry. They carry on for the rest of the day and week, but do so with the sadness of losing a dog they cared so much about. But they all knew that they gave him TONS of attention and love and that he did die with people who assumed the responsibility for his health and his quality of life.
Loki, like other dogs in our care that may not find their forever home outside our walls, will receive a private cremation and be returned to us. Yes, it is expensive, but it helps US to have him back in our care.
Thank you for your donations to our Cody Medical Fund which help us to pursue care to provide quality of life, whether a few days, a few weeks or months… and when we’re lucky, to their forever home.
Urgent Message Regarding Disease Prevention
We’re posting this message in light of recent trending discussion regarding canine influenza
and other communicable diseases.
You may be aware that we’ve suspending activities at Golden Gateway due to a bout of
kennel cough. We do vaccinate against bordatella (kennel cough); however, the vaccine covers one strain and there are several. In order to safeguard our dogs as well as yours, our veterinarian has
recommended that we self-quarantine for the next 21 days.
In heeding that advice, we will not make adoption appointments, accept dogs for boarding, or
allow any dogs to leave our care until April 26th.
We understand that this is disappointing for those with pending adoptions as well as for all of
our approved adopters, but it is a necessary precaution we will take with no exceptions.
As for canine influenza, there is not a confirmed case at Golden Gateway.
Please watch our website for updated information.
If you should have any questions, please contact me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) or at 717-484-4799.
Crowdfunding: Where the Money Went
We reached our goal to provide for Tania (showing one of her silly expressions in the left photo) , and as promised, we will be using the amount donated over her needs toward other dogs. We thought you’d like to know more about the other dogs those donations have helped.
Bianka was in our care for some time and her bloodwork was off. This sweet girl with the sad eyes had hookworms and giardia, was underweight, and had stump pyometra. Since she came from Puerto Rico, we ruled out Ehrlichia and Anasplasmosis and placed her on antibiotics, yet she still didn’t improve. The final test was a bone marrow aspirate, which was done at New Holland Veterinary Hospital. That test showed that she has cancer, but it hasn’t shown up anywhere else. We have no idea how much time she has left, but she is in hospice care and doing well and starting to open up and seek affection. That bill was $500.00.
Ralphie came to us from a farm breeder. He was sold and returned to the breeder due to a “urinary issue” the farmer didn’t want to address. The breeder called us, and we accepted Ralphie thinking perhaps it was a simple urinary tract issue as we often see with puppies. Exploratory surgery was required and upon doing so, we found that the kidneys were crystallized and the damage was so extensive that nothing could be done for him. We had to make the painful decision to euthanize this beautiful puppy while he was under anesthesia. That bill was $900.00.
We are now working to raise the $4,800.00 for Watson’s hip replacement surgery on January 14. Click here to read the full story on this great dog.
Thank you for helping us help Ralphie and Bianka. Ralphie was cremated, and his ashes will remain with us at DVGRR. When the time comes for Bianka, we will do the same. Every dog needs a final home.
We don’t always win. But we always try.
A Holiday Message and Thank You
Because of you, our work in 2014 was possible.
Please read a holiday thank you from the DVGRR staff:
2014 Holiday Thank You
And a note about year-end donations: Those for 2014 must be received by 12/31/14. Also, recently passed legislation now allows donors aged 70 1/2 and older to transfer money from an IRA to DVGRR with that transfer free from federal income tax and qualifying as a required minimum distribution for 2014*.
There is still time to donate to our crowdfunding campaign to give Tania a new life in the New Year!
*Please contact your financial advisor or accountant for complete details.
A Week in the Trenches
We are still a topic of discussion on this “list” regarding our decision to rescue Doodles and conduct a Doodle Day next Saturday. There are literally hundreds of lines of criticism. The funniest one was a criticism because my photo is on the website holding my Doodle, Reese, because that would certainly create demand for Doodles.
But the thousands of lines that our DVGRR family wrote overwhelmingly crushed the criticism.
Being “up” around the dogs is a necessity, and for a few weeks, it was tough. As your emails and letters arrived, we shared them with the entire staff, and the smiles and attitude shifted toward the positive again. Many of your comments gave us a perspective we hadn’t thought of.
Above all, it was great to look out the window and see everyone smiling and having fun with the dogs again.
Some of the comments we’d like to share:
- We would expect no less of DVGRR than to reach out and help. These dogs didn’t ask to be shipped to or born in Puerto Rico. They need what DVGRR can offer.
- Our little “mix” from Puerto Rico has literally saved my husband’s life. During his cancer treatment, he was bedridden, and each day, our dog would crawl into bed and snuggle close to him. This made my husband fight. We can’t imagine our lives without him and are thankful to DVGRR every day.
- DVGRR and its board and most especially you should sleep like a baby each and every night with all the good you have done in your lifetime for all the dogs in need in this world. Our beloved Goldens, regardless of pure or mixed breed need you and us and DVGRR! Those who chose to turn their backs and wallets, although disheartening, will be replaced by more open-minded donors. Keep faith and know the majority of the DVGRR family is right behind you and behind your goal to save and help dogs in need… no matter what their bloodline!
- If you have the means, volunteers, staff, facilities, and the resources to help as many dogs as possible, regardless of locale or mix (breed), then these animals should be helped. DVGRR has always been doing it responsibly. There should be no questions asked, no explanations needed, and certainly no need to defend those actions – ever. Will there be times that you will need to reach out to your supporters for that extra help to accomplish this? Absolutely. As a supporter, I expect that there will be instances you will need to stretch yourself for the sake of the greater good. This is a RESCUE. That alone is your sole mission – to help (rescue) dogs in need. If you have the means, volunteers, staff, facilities, and resources to save these dogs AND you begin cherry picking or discriminating which sick or abandoned dogs are more worthy of your care and resources (because they are not the “right” breed or are not in the “right” location), THEN I would consider rescinding my donations. I personally believe that anyone that has the means to help but thinks that selective rescue is acceptable because of boundaries or breed should really reconsider if they truly belong in animal rescue in the first place. If someone has the means to help and they do nothing – what does that say about that person? Imagine the criticism you would receive if a blog stated you had recently received $10,000 in donations to go to the care and rescue of animals and you were called to help the 20 dogs in NC but you made the decision not to help because you felt it was best to sit around waiting for the local, full-breed dogs to get dumped off this week, and as a result those 20 dogs were unnecessarily euthanized. I know that decision would not sit well personally with me and with many others.
- If helping the “outliers” truly affects your ability to help the “pure” Goldens that are within the “allowable” footprint, I simply believe that you would make the decision not to do so – because you know your limitations. I’m pretty sure you have been running this facility long enough to know that resources are not unlimited and many tough decisions need to be made if staff, space, or funding is being too heavily burdened. There is fine line between stretching yourself and over burdening yourselves. If you were to bite off more than you could chew, you could eventually jeopardize your overall ability to rescue – you, more than me, knows that reality. To date, this has not happened because I believe that each and every decision that is made by DVGRR to rescue outside the “limits” or to help another rescue is made thoughtfully and mindfully. All variables and potential consequences are also considered. I think you have proven your ability to make sound, good decisions on the behalf of the animals, the supporters, and the rescue as demonstrated by the amazing facility, the sheer number of rehabilitated dogs, re-homed dogs, and happy families. You have grown, you have evolved, you have helped to save an extraordinary amount of animals. THAT is what counts. NOT where they came from or if they are “pure” breed dogs.
- I have to question the integrity of any supporter that decides to pull their funding from this rescue because they feel you have an inability to turn away an innocent animal in need and because of THEIR lack of faith in your ability to make the right choices for not only the animals, but the rescue. They can choose not to support you, but I’d like to challenge them to find a better, more capable rescue to support. Unfortunately, I think this is an instance of the critics yelling the loudest. Nobody ever screams to tell you how great you are. In reality, “you can’t please all the people all of the time.” Just know that there are many of us that are still silently supporting you. After today’s message from you, I felt compelled to reach out and tell you how great you really are. I am a proud supporter and will continue to support your decisions to spread the care and compassion a little further whenever you feel it’s needed.
Little Noah will be arriving on the next available flight along with three other Goldens in need. There are fifteen more waiting….
All of us send our thanks for taking the time to reach out and be the louder voices. You made us realize we are not alone in this work – you are truly our partners.
Robin Adams, Executive Director/Cofounder
Dennis Stauffer, Kennel Manager
Zack Morgan, Assistant Kennel Manager
Sara Bright, Director of Adoptions and Education
Heather Hatt, Director Lynne Glennon Sanctuary
Marie Redcay, Veterinary Assistant
John Plummer, Staff Support/Facility Operations Manager
Amy Good, Intake/Boarding/Transportation
Karen Whittaker, Accounting
Inza Adams, Events and Volunteer Manager/Accounts Payable
And Caregivers Alice, Alyssa, Angela, Ashley, Carcy, Cindy, Jennifer, Jessica, Marilyn, Nicola, Paige, Raegan, Samantha and Tara
Masses… and we mean MASSES… of matted fur
Our Saturday Meet and Greet had all of us on staff flying high: Our little three-legged girl, Angel, went from being tied to a tree for seven years to moving into foster care with the Vath family (serial adopters of three-legged and terminally ill dogs). Miles went bouncing out of the building into the car of his new family… and didn’t look back. Buddy #55 said hello to his new family with his big goofy grin. Lots of the dog sign-up sheets had multiple families anxious to adopt. It was a perfect day in many respects.
As we started to pack up for the day, Amy Good, who manages our intakes, called me to her side to look at photos on her phone. I anticipated photos of the glorious day we had experienced, but what I saw, at first, I couldn’t fully comprehend.
Two Goldendoodles were relinquished to us earlier in the day and the condition of neglect was nothing less than criminal against these dogs. We have no idea how long they have lived like this, but being owned by a Doodle, I know that the hair doesn’t grown that fast. This condition and neglect must have been going on for many years. These two Doodles, Freddy and Teddy, lived in a basement about 22 hours per day.
On Tuesday morning, the team mobilized. The fur was so thick and matted, Dr. Gondek had to first shave an area in order to insert the sedation needle. As soon as he was relaxed, Cindy, Heather, AND Dr. Gondek went to work with the electric clippers for the shearing process while Carcy stood at Freddy’s head and stroked it. I worked cutting knots and trying to make access cuts, so the clippers could fit in. Marie cranked up the air conditioning because digging through the mats in order to insert clippers without cutting the dog’s skin became a very physical process, and four clippers in use heated up the room very quickly.
Little by little, the stinking, rotting, wet and disgusting fur peeled back. I fully expected to find maggots, but both Freddy and Teddy had beautiful pink skin.
When Marie gave Freddy the drug to reverse the sedation, he was up within minutes and returned to his kennel to rest. In came Teddy, and Inza took my place with the scissors, and the team worked another hour to shave off years of what must have been painful fur.
I checked with Heather later in the afternoon, and she said the boys were huddled on blankets, a little cold. But Freddy was singing in the high-pitch voice often heard with Doodles. Tomorrow we’ll have some coats for them to wear until they get used to this new life and fur grows back.
Next week, they’ll have their dental cleanings, and then they will be ready to have a life with people who will care for and love them.
We’re all waiting to see what they do when they go out for play.
We couldn’t say “yes” without you. Thank you for allowing us to do this work. Thank you for giving to the Cody Medical Fund that helps to cover all the medical care we provide for every dog in our program. Scroll down to see the photos of the latest procedure covered by this fund, and click to donate to it or to make a donation to our general fund.
In the last few months, we’ve become aware of cruelty toward and neglected conditions for dogs in the Caribbean islands. Consequently, we’ve been in contact with groups on the islands that need help. Before I continue, I want to assure you that we will always give priority to help the Goldens in our own geographic area first, but we usually still have available space and resources to help even more dogs. Working to help greater numbers of dogs directly aligns with our mission, making our resources available just makes sense. If we can help, we should help.
Recently, Mr. & Mrs. K, two of our supporters, sponsored much of the expense for a DVGRR team to travel to one of the areas to meet with various executive directors and presidents of these island humane organizations. What we learned shook us to our core.
It was unlike any neglect or cruelty we’ve seen before. Dogs’ ears have been burned off. They have been beaten and thrown in traffic. Many are abandoned near dense forests. Mange is rampant, leaving dogs with painful, itchy skin. Many are placed in garbage bags and thrown by the side of the road.
The cultures, many times male dominated, do not embrace neutering; hence, overpopulation is rampant.
It was an exhausting (to say nothing of emotionally draining) three days of meetings and learning. We spent one of those days volunteering our time and energy at a shelter – walking dogs, washing dishes, sweeping, and socializing desperately needy dogs.
At Golden Gateway, at the end of each day, we walk away with a sense of satisfaction because the dogs have received treatments, sufficient food, medications, exercise, baths, and a great deal of human touch.
The one day we could help, our team scrubbed kennels, took dogs for walks, and held them. But there were so many that needed so much that we walked away with a sense of not accomplishing enough. Needs, from medication to leashes, food to construction help, are overwhelming. There were donated supplies to create new kennel runs, but no one to make it happen.
They clean with bleach because it kills the pathogens they deal with and it is affordable. Unfortunately, it destroys the crates. These dogs have plenty of food and the volunteers do as much as possible. Most importantly, these dogs are safe and LOVED.
Here’s the fact that simply took our breath away: Every single dog longed for human touch — they were not afraid, cowering in corners as we often see here. Those that we could pick up wrapped their legs and paws around our necks and snuggled, licking our faces nonstop. An outstretched hand sent the dogs running to see who could get to the person first. Because many of these dogs lived on the street, they are not fearful of things like cars, people, or dogs. It was socialization by default. All the dogs got along with other dogs – they learned their pack order.
One little “almost Golden” shook us to our souls. Angela had been beaten with a baseball bat and thrown into traffic. Until she was captured, she walked almost on her shoulders. The one leg took 17 screws to put back together, and she had to use the other broken leg while the repaired leg healed. The “crutch leg” must be amputated.
We looked at one another and, without words, started digging into our wallets to pool our own money to bring Angela to DVGRR’s care. We vowed if we couldn’t find a home for her, one of us would adopt her. We just couldn’t leave her there, waiting for enough funds to be raised to fix or amputate her leg. If we can help, we should help.
Being in rescue is a fine balance. Your head must control the heart, but Angela’s spirit got to us.
Humane Societies throughout the United States are taking dogs from various islands. We’re joining in the effort; it’s just that we’re focused on our Goldens. They are cleared by veterinarians prior to travel to ensure no disease is brought in (frankly, we have more health worries from the breeder dogs coming from the puppy mills).
American Airlines provides a special rate for nonprofit shelter-to-shelter transport. We can make a difference in the lives of our Caribbean cousins because you have given us the tools to do so: BARK Hospital to provide for their medical needs, clean kennels where they can sleep without fear of attack by humans, a loving staff that starts to heal their wounds – physical or mental. If we can help, we should help.
By your support, you give us the tools of change.
Stunned and humbled
Simultaneously stunned and humbled is the best way to describe my reaction when I hung up the phone last Wednesday after a representative from Dog Fancy called to inform me that DVGRR has been named “Shelter of the Year” for 2013 and that the recognition would be awarded in conjunction with the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Initially, I wasn’t even certain why we’d been selected, but from the moment I heard the news, I knew without a doubt that it would have been impossible without the ongoing and incredibly loyal support of our DVGRR family and members and the day-in-and-day-out dedication of the fantastic staff and volunteers here at Golden Gateway. This award truly belongs to all of you. You should be proud of the work you enable us to do. Nothing we do – from accepting a Golden from a family that can no longer afford to keep the dog to rescuing a puppy mill survivor and introducing it to love and affection – would be possible without you. “Thank you” never seems like enough to show our gratitude on behalf of the Goldens and Goldendoodles we can help.
Shelter of the Year is a special industry award presented by Purina Veterinary Diets Fortiflora® and will be given at the 59th annual Purina® Pro Plan® Show Dogs of the Year® Awards ceremony on Feb. 8th in New York City. When asked why DVGRR was chosen as this year’s recipient, Lisa MacDonald, Event Chairperson said, “Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue is a shining star in the purebred rescue world. They have grown from a foster system to a true shelter model and created many innovative programs such as Project Home Life, in which they rehabilitate former puppy mill breeding dogs. We applaud their efforts on behalf of all dogs in Lancaster County, across the state and beyond.”
She also shared that in order to select the recipient, representatives of i5Publishing (publishers of Dog Fancy among other publications) meet with the corporate sponsor to review and discuss nominees. In essence, the award recognizes excellence and innovation in rescue and adoption, and the committee typically takes into account the aggregate good a shelter or rescue has done.
With DVGRR’s twentieth anniversary on tap to be celebrated at our Winter Dinner on March 15, the timing of this certainly couldn’t be better. We’re planning a trip down memory lane that evening, and while it will be fun to look back and appreciate 20 years of effort and support reflected in the Shelter of the Year award, there is so much more on the horizon that we hope to accomplish while always embracing our simple mission: providing new beginnings for displaced Golden Retrievers.
Again, thank you for making this recognition possible, but more importantly, thank you for allowing us to rescue over 3,300 dogs in our 20 years. Because of you, the future is Golden.
It has taken two days to fully digest the events of Friday. We were (and are) exhausted, probably from all the emotion of trying to comprehend what happened.
A few of us went to the Extraordinary Give “headquarters” at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square Friday night, and although we weren’t allowed to bring one of our dogs, volunteer Alexa Vath brought her service dog who is a DVGRR graduate. He quickly brought attention to our little gang of revelry.
A few of us went to the Extraordinary Give “headquarters” at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square Friday night, and although we weren’t allowed to bring one of our dogs, volunteer Alexa Vath brought her service dog who is a DVGRR graduate. He quickly brought attention to our little gang of revelry.
One of our board members, Barry “Excel” Edwards gave us a spreadsheet that estimates your gifts plus a share of the pool and prizes projecting approximately $120,000.00. In addition, The Hobie Fund at the Philadelphia Foundation met the commitment of $25,000.00 for the challenge match for blood testing equipment, which we have ordered. We also gave the go-ahead for the addition to BARK and the digital x-ray will be installed in mid-December.
I gotta tell you, during an interview on Saturday morning from the Lancaster newspaper, I was asked how I felt raising so much money when there were so many human charities in need. I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I told the writer that I felt that wasn’t a fair question because people can choose their charity and their passion. It left me pretty downhearted. Later, I had the opportunity to talk to the writer again and was quite frank telling her that her question really took the wind out of my sails. And, I told her, OUR problems are caused by humans. “A powerful statement,” the writer said. I also reminded the writer there were nine animal charities participating in the Extraordinary Give.
Between now and March, there are no fundraisers. Those who have wanted to be members have paid. This will help us get through the next three months.
The blood testing equipment will cost $50,000.00. What will the savings be? About $10.00 per dog, but it now means that every dog coming into the program will have a complete chemistry profile that will serve as the baseline to follow the dog through his/her life. This saves our adopters about $200.00.
The x-ray equipment will allow us to provide chest and abdominal x-rays on all our seniors. We’ll know if there are any concerns to disclose to an adopter, and if one of these sugar-faces is ill, he or she will live out the balance of life in our Lynne Glennon Sanctuary for Seniors and Puppy Mill Survivors.
When you sit with family and friends on Thanksgiving, give your canine family members a hug and tell them how lucky they are to be in your hearts and home and know that all of us here at Golden Gateway will have a very, very special prayer of thanks for all of you. And we hope you are all so very proud of yourselves and the difference your passion will make.
Oct. 9 update: Trooper
Trooper is eating better. He hates his pills and spits them out, so we need to be creative and hide them in a multitude of different foods to get him to take his medication. He’s getting up and going out easier, touching his toes to the ground, and putting a little weight on the leg. In a few weeks after his first check-up, we’ll learn more about what therapy needs he will have.
Video of Trooper taking a walk.
Harper: From Dennis:
Here is the latest on Harper: He is now living up to his reputation – mouthy, hard player, fun, crazy, affectionate. He definitely has a knack for eating things and should not be left alone in a house. Even when outside, he yanked on some landscape fabric sticking out of the ground, he picked up rocks, he even started grabbing mouthfuls of sod. He also circles a lot. Some of that might have been frustration because he was on limited activity and was wearing an e-collar from the surgery, so he wasn’t getting much exercise. Today we lifted the activity ban. His incision has healed up nicely, and we decided to introduce him to Queenie. She is also a hard player, and we let them play for a half hour until they were both exhausted. See picture below. I think it did wonders for him. He was so happy!
Now here’s the interesting part: We had him at the ophthalmologist yesterday, and they concluded that there is nothing wrong with Harper’s eyes. They believe his eyes are working, but there is a neurological disconnect somewhere in which his brain is not receiving information from his eyes. They suggested that we take him for a neurological consult. The ophthalmologist even went so far as to say that if he has a neurological problem, that could possibly explain the circling and the eating disorder. We’re going to go ahead with it to see if there is anything that can be done for him. The consult time will cost $200, and we’ll see from there what they suggest as any next steps.
Charles is feeling better and continuing to enjoy company with the girls.
Oct. 4 update: When there’s a wag, there’s a will.
Someone described me once as a “tough old bird,” but Charles’ condition last night reduced me to sobs. He would not eat, wasn’t awake much, was weak, and breathing so, so slowly. Marie and I stood around him… both of us questioning if what we were doing was right for him.
We then had a good talk with him – eye-to-eye – and told him that we were doing everything we could. We wanted to let him know there is a warm home waiting for him, no more barn or straw. He could have a soft bed and good-tasting food. But, he had to let us know he wanted to go on because, last night, we felt he had given up.
Someone once told me we should NEVER put dogs like Charles on our website because when/if something happens to them, it is painful. But that’s what shelter life is and that’s what we deal with every day. If one person is repulsed by the treatment given by farmers, well, then we’re meeting our educational goals.
This morning, I dreaded calling in because we both though he’d expire during the night. But when Marie answered her phone, she was bright and cheerful. Charles had eaten a little bit and was out walking around. He is still so frail, but the IV is out.
At noon, Marie carried him out to the Mary Jane Leonard Brown exercise area to get him on some grass. Ginger Vreeland, one of the Doodles (and quite the flirt) came up to the fence, and the old boy’s tail really started to wag. There may be snow on the roof, but there is still a fire in the furnace. He walked the fence a bit to stay within sniffing range of what must be a delightful perfume, then lay down to watch.
Marie brought out some baby food… well, we’ll let the video tell the rest of the story.
Marie has been nursing Charles nonstop, so we’re sending Charles home with Cindy Morgan and her family for the weekend to give Marie some rest. He’ll get lots of attention from her kids, and since Cindy also has a female dog in the house, Charles may decide he likes living more and more each hour.
I don’t know if prayers were answered, if he “understood” us last night, or if he realized he was in a good place, but today, Charles let us know that he wants us to keep trying. And so will we.
No sooner had Marie put Charles back on all his blankets in the kennel (he LOVES being in his outdoor portion of the kennel) when she got the call to pick up Harper at VRC. We’ll have photos or video later today on his return back home.
It has been three weeks of hell, but this incredible staff beat back every single challenge that hit us. Dr. Gondek and Dr. Harris from New Holland Veterinary Hospital have been available almost round-the-clock for Marie’s every call or report.
YOU came to our rescue with your donations so that we could keep going – Harper, Charles, the Sweet 16. Thousands of dollars in care was made possible because you did something to change a dog’s life.
…. and that, in turn, changes ours.
Oct. 3 update:
The surgeon us called at 4:45 and said Trooper is doing great. The leg is free from the hip, and it is down now. He can walk on the leg, but he’s going to have to go through physical therapy with an underwater treadmill and massage. We’ll be checking in with them tomorrow as he may be discharged back to our care.
Charles has been drinking water and going out to potty, but he still has no interest in eating. We’re all pretty tearful around here… and we so, so hope that he might turn a corner tonight. We have decided that we aren’t going to let him linger. We know we couldn’t let those bladder stones in him – he was already suffering from those. We’ve seen many very senior Goldens bounce back with new life and vigor after surgery, but it’s been over a week now, and the improvement chart is almost a straight line.
We need a miracle. (Watch video)
Oct. 2 update:
Well, rounds are done, and here is the report for today:
Lolita: A leash barely holds her back… she is a firecracker of a pup! She doesn’t know or care that her leg was broken. She’s feeling great and on the mend. Almost one week down, three to five more to go. Her veterinary costs total about $2,000.00.
Harper: He is doing fabulously. His incision is healing beautifully, and he’s full of energy. He’s another one that is difficult to manage with a high activity level so that he can heal. He still needs an eye specialist appointment. No bills or cost estimates yet.
Trooper: He will get a great meal tonight, and Dennis will leave early tomorrow morning to take him to VRC. You all have contributed to pay for the approximately $4,500.00 surgery. Thank you!
We’ve talked about reporting the farmer who relinquished Trooper; however, the thought that came to mind is that if we do that we can almost guarantee that on Sunday morning the other members of his church are going to know what we did. Then the dogs that are out there that may be in similar situations will pay the price because their owners won’t trust us. We haven’t closed the chapter yet, thinking perhaps a letter might be in order. We’re still thinking and considering our options.
Zipper and Bernadette: Two of our Sweet 16 are improving but still under care. They will undergo additional blood tests on Tuesday and continue with their medication until after their next appointment with Dr. Gondek. They are eating, so that is great news.
And our wonderful boy Charles: I spoke to Dr. Harris this morning, and he’s not ready to give up. He’s seen dogs take a little more time than most to come around. The staff reported that he must have been up and walking in his kennel last night because things were “moved around,” so that’s a very good sign. He walked out to potty on his own, but then he stopped walking. He’s a stubborn guy, but he’s probably never had a leash and collar on, so this is a new thing to him. He is still on fluids and still has no appetite, but Marie gets some baby food on her fingers and into his mouth, so he does swallow some.
He was lifting his head this morning, so that is a small step forward. I had an eye-to-eye chat with him and told him we were doing everything we can, but he has to help, too.
Oct. 1 update:
Dr. Gondek was here this morning, and we drew more blood for our two Sweet 16 pups. It is maddening to wait for the results tomorrow, but the good news is they both ate a bowl of food this afternoon. Dr. Gondek is concerned that they likely got into something at their former home, and until we know what, they must be handled (by humans) wearing gloves.
Here’s a picture of Lolita – apparently feeling good enough to jump on Cindy Morgan! And Trooper is eating (and he LOVES that sport!), sleeping, and going potty as best he can. He leaves here Thursday morning for surgery that day, and we promise, as soon as we hear anything, we’ll post an update.
Our dear old man Charles is perhaps 1/10% better. He goes out to potty, but he is still not interested in food. A lunch-time run had us coming back with the following possibilities for him:
1. Baby food – Stage 2 – all meat varieties
2. Hard-boiled eggs
3. Beneful beef stew
4. Pieces of ham
7. Ricotta cheese
8. Cottage Cheese
10. … and yes, I even bought him a filet.
Of course, we won’t try all of them at the same time, but at least we have a wide variety of things to try to entice him. We’re all second-guessing ourselves about putting him through the surgery, but the choice was to allow the bladder stones to become lodged causing him extreme pain, or euthanizing. We haven’t given up hope.
Sept. 28 update:
Trooper is back at Golden Gateway for bloodwork, nutrition and rest. He goes back for the surgery on Thursday with an estimate of $4500.00. Dr. Franjewski at VRC has done miracles before ( our little Darwin, for example) and he expects that trooper will be fine. As I understand from Marie, X-rays have bone fused with the hip side by side. Our concern now is to get him ready for Thursday . We hope that we can show you all four of these dogs at the reunion next Saturday to see how all your help really does make their lives better.
September 27: (Original Post)
It has been a “full moon week”… one week after full moon. First, Lolita, a very active, young Golden in our care, simply landed wrong during her play and broke her leg. Since it was almost impossible for her to keep still even in a crate, Amy held her as Marie drove.
We rushed her to New Holland Veterinary Hospital, but the break would require an orthopedic specialist, so Marie and Amy hopped back in the van and headed to VRC. We’re happy to report that her leg has been plated and pinned, but she’ll be in a cast for four weeks.
Cost – about $1500-$2000.00.
Prince Charles (13-196)
Dennis came into “the tin can” to tell me he was picking up a 12 ½-year-old male from a farm. We wondered what logical reason there could be for giving up a senior whose “breeding” career certainly ended years ago. The reason? “He ain’t catchin’ no more groundhogs, and he ain’t eatin’ too good.” I just about fell out of my chair.
But what really floored me were the AKC papers Dennis returned with – a five-generation pedigree. This dog’s lineage was remarkable, and most of the dams were all champion Golden Retrievers. I recognized every kennel/breeder in the pedigree and was incensed to realize this dog was in a puppy mill. How did the farmer manage to get this dog, presumably as a puppy? Did he lie? Did he send someone else to buy the puppy? Did the breeder simply not care, figuring it was just another sale? We don’t know.
We’ve named him Prince Charles.
X-rays on him started the process. An area showed concern, so exploratory surgery was next. Stomach, liver, gall, bladder, intestines, pancreas, kidneys, spleen, and lymph nodes that could be seen were all in normal limits. We did find bladder stones, calcium oxycilate, that are sharp, cause pain and can cause bleeding. If we do nothing, they can cause obstruction in the urethra. He was also neutered and had his teeth cleaned – some worn, not much tartar, none need to be pulled. Sir Charles did great during the two-hour surgery.
The stones were sent for biopsy, and the results will take six to ten weeks. Hydration is critical – greater hydration means more urination. He’s getting canned food (70% water) to increase hydration, and his appetite is improving a bit. He only weighs 56.5 lbs. and in not highly food motivated. At his age, he doesn’t hear well, but he’s always happy, barking, wagging his tail, and wanting attention. The biopsy on the mass in the testicles came back benign and well encapsulated. Charles is recovering in our Special Care Unit. – Cost undetermined as yet.
He was relinquished because he was too active and ate ravenously, food flying everywhere. His second day in our care, he was lethargic and wouldn’t eat. Marie rushed him to New Holland Veterinary Hospital where x-rays showed “something” in his stomach. Emergency surgery was performed, and here’s what was found in his stomach… a baby pacifier and computer wire!
His intestine was ruptured, the doctors had their miracles and he came through, but overnight, his temp climbed to 104. Aggressive antibiotics were administered, and tonight, he ate a bit of food and his temp came down to 102. Marie will pick him up Saturday morning and likely take him home with her for the weekend. Cost – undetermined.
And possibly worst of all…
But this next story has me reaching my tolerance limit for cruelty AND stupidity.
We got a call from a farmer who said he had a 1-1/2-year-young Golden that had been hit by a car. When dealing with farmers, we can’t ask too many questions, or we won’t get the dog.
The farmer was coming from about three hours away to the local Animal Auction today (Friday September 27 – likely to trade in a “used” horse) and could meet Dennis at a predetermined location.
When Dennis arrived, he found a lovely, young Golden Retriever. Now, here’s the rest of the conversation:
- “He was hit about five months ago, and he didn’t learn his lesson and got hit again.”
- “He can’t keep up with the other dogs no more.”
You can see the damage, how his spine is twisted and how atrophied the leg has become. He can barely walk (despite his unfailing spirit). It takes a lot to make this crew cry, and even Marie broke down.
Marie called VRC, and they told us to bring him in immediately through the emergency service. We know there are extra costs involved with an emergency intake, but it is unthinkable that Trooper spend one more day in pain.
So with this “full-moon week,” we’ll turn to our Cody Fund to cover the care for these four as well as other dogs in our care. Please help us with a donation to this fund set aside for extraordinary veterinary care.
Ya’ Just Never Know
In 2001, Jim and I took a “bucket list” trip to Napa Valley. One of the DVGRR Adopters had been tutoring us on wine and insisted we HAD to go there.
Each day, we visited wineries, meeting new people. Close to the end of the trip, we went to our favorite vineyard, Joseph Phelps, as we wanted to learn more about their award-winning Insignia. I remember clearly sitting across the table from a couple and “just got a feeling” they had a Golden Retriever.
During our tour and tasting, as the wine flowed, we started a conversation and somehow, it led to dogs. And yes, they had a Golden that they rescued from San Diego rescue where my friend, Jeanette Poling, was President. Jeanette and I served on the founding members of the Committee to Assist Rescue of the Golden Retriever Club of America.
A fast friendship developed and over the years, we shared stories of milestone – trips, grandkids, dogs and more dogs, rescue, and of course, wine.
And now, she started and nurtured Golden Rescue Del Sur in California .
Goldens and wine seem to go together. Whether sitting with friends and talking about dogs or attending our annual wine dinner. Mark your calendar now for it: Sat. March 15, 2014!
Ya’ just never know.
Funding the Future…and the Present
Congratulations, you’ve done it! We will go to settlement at the end of the month without a mortgage for the purchase price of the adjacent property. What really meant a lot to everyone at Golden Gateway were the notes and letters that came with the gifts and pledges – ALL very positive and supportive. Many Project Home Life volunteers can’t wait for The Lynne Glennon Sanctuary for Senior Goldens and Puppy Mill Survivors to open, and neither can we!
Settlement is scheduled for August 28th. The current homeowners did negotiate a clause to stay in the home and pay rent until no later than November (unless they find another residence sooner). We will, however, be starting exterior projects such as brush removal between the two properties, fencing, and creating an addition to our walking trail adding the perimeter of the new property. That will certainly allow some great new sights and smells for our trail-walking residents!
With the purchase price covered, we will be working toward raising funds to cover renovations. One of our dog-walker volunteers, Barry Rupp, a retired Facilities Project Manager who lives locally, will take charge of getting bids and project management to keep us on track to move in as soon as possible. Here’s what some of the renovation plans include:
- Replace three septic tanks (drain field works fine)
- Create a “vestibule” at the front door to create double entries, preventing escape
- All lighting will be in the ceilings (no cords dogs can chew)
- UV system for water treatment (duplicating what we currently have in the existing kennel)
- Antimicrobial flooring with traction for the senior paws
- Remove bath/shower and install grooming tub
- Replace broken toilet
- Laundry and grooming room in basement
- Fencing with a “safety yard” of pea gravel
- Vinyl fencing in yards so no two dogs can go face-to-face while outside for exercise or play (unless they are in a play group)
- Closed circuit cameras
- Remove all brush around home
- New breakers and GFIs
- Create a walk-out basement
- Heating improvements
- Remove fireplace in basement living area and open to one large room
- Solid wood interior doors cut in half – barn-door style
We hope that once we can get access the house, all the changes can be done in about six weeks or less. Pledges received will help us meet the operating expenses over the coming three years in addition to offsetting the mortgage.
A sigh of relief, but….
Now that the largest race has been won, we have a smaller but equally important challenge. We can’t ignore our everyday operating expenses and our general fund. We have a few fundraising events coming, such as the Yankee Candle Fundraiser and October reunion, and we continue to work diligently to find and apply for grants and contain costs; however, we’d really like to avoid tapping our modest reserves to meet the costs for veterinary care, medicines, propane, electric and all the other “unglamorous but equally important” needs. These are the things covered by our general fund.
I urge you to check out the many ways you can make a donation to help us cover the cost of caring for the dogs at Golden Gateway. In addition to a general donation, you can sponsor any of the dogs currently in our program, honor a special occasion for your friends and family, remember a beloved canine or loved one with a memorial brick in our Rainbow Bridge garden or a Gateway Angel Tribute.
There’s no shortage of ways to donate… and there is certainly no shortage of need right now in our general fund. I encourage you to click on any of these links to make your donation. Or you could become one of our Guardian Angels with a recurring monthly donation.
In addition to donations, I encourage you to become a DVGRR member if you aren’t one already. We’re getting ready to begin work on our next issue of Golden Opportunities, and I’m sure it will be packed with information you don’t want to miss. Plus we’re also gearing up to mail the annual calendars that everyone loves. To ensure you’re part of our mailing and receive your copies, become a member today.
On behalf of every wagging and happily tired tail and comfortable, full belly, and smiling face at Golden Gateway, thank you for your support.
In the private sector, we tend to believe that if folks are producing results, they should receive competitive salaries… maybe even bonuses; however, when it comes to non-profits, there’s a visceral reaction to paying competitive salaries – that those working for the cause should be glad more money goes into the program rather than into their pockets. It’s a tough way to attract a quality staff, and it’s wrong to ask the best and brightest to choose between working to do well for themselves or to do well for society and the cause they believe in.
Yes, we’ve expanded benefits for the DVGRR staff, and that adds to overhead. Our staff is a truly remarkable group and is completely dedicated to the cause, often working 6 or 7 days every week with little time off. Some of us are on-call around the clock. We’ve got some of the best and the brightest, and we want to keep them. I assure you, the wages we pay and benefits we now provide cannot possibly be considered excessive. They’re fair, and yes, they’re overhead, but at the end of the day, this overhead expense truly benefits our program, our mission and our Goldens.
Another perceived “no-no” expense for non-profit organizations across the board is advertising. Donors want their money to go “to the cause,” not to pay for advertising, yet we think nothing of the billions of dollars spent on advertising by the private sector. Consider these statistics from Dan Pallotta’s book,Uncharitable: For every one advertising message by a non-profit in the health and human services sector, there are 479 other ad messages promoting a for-profit product or service. The Susan G. Komen Foundation spent $18 million on ads while L’Oreal spent $1.8 billion. Disproportionate is an understatement.
At DVGRR, we’re seeing an increased need to share the message of our mission. We still see way too many Goldens being offered on classified sites like Craig’s List. We never question why a dog is being relinquished, but we do want to get as many dogs into our program and care as possible. We’ve set a goal to increase the number of dogs we take into our program, and the only way we can attain that is to make certain the community knows about us and what we do. The only way we can make that happen is through advertising. Every dollar we spend on advertising will ultimately help a displaced Golden.
Finally, there’s an illogical perception about fund raising and a mistaken theory about philanthropy in general and about DVGRR specifically: The more money we spend on fund-raising events, the less money we have to spend on the program and the dogs. Fund raising is the area of overhead that actually has the potential to increase total donations.
The mistake is assuming that it’s a zero-sum game. For example, if a non-profit has a $10 million budget and spends $1 million on overhead that leaves $9 million “for the cause.” If that organization increases its overhead to $3 million to do more fund raising, on the surface, it seems as if there is now only $7 million for the cause. But it’s critical to keep in mind the benefit of fund raising – it makes the whole pie bigger. As a result of fund raising, the charity in this example now has $20 million, not $10 million, so there’s now $17 million “for the cause.” A huge increase for a minor bump in overhead. We can increase the size of the total pie at DVGRR with fund raising.
We’ve seen that happen since the addition of our Events & Volunteer Manager, Sarah McKillip. We added overhead when we hired her and the result was an increase of $100,000 in donations over the previous year. We made the pie bigger and by doing so, are able to extend our reach and our mission.
What can you do? First, renew your membership and encourage others to join. These funds are vital to the work we do. Visit the website to renew or start your DVGRR membership. Or consider a steady monthly donation of $25.00 – it makes a huge difference in our ability to rescue more Goldens. Can you spare $5.00 a week? We’re at a critical stage, and that amount can make a big difference to the beautiful Goldens we rescue. Finally, consider volunteering. There are a number of volunteer opportunities at DVGRR, so I encourage you to contact check the volunteer section of our site and apply today.
Thank you for your support. Every dollar you donate truly helps save another Golden.