Who makes all of the magic happen at DVGRR? Our staff is a team of individuals who are dedicated to bettering the lives of the Goldens that pass through Golden Gateway. Click on a name to learn more about a staff member.
My life with Goldens began when my husband, Jim, and I purchased a Golden from what we thought was a reputable breeder. Unfortunately, however, Emerson came with many behavioral challenges. While I had cared for dogs as a child, I wasn’t prepared for the issues we were facing. Thankfully, my veterinarian suggested a behaviorist at the University of Pennsylvania, and with his guidance and consistent language, we started making good progress.
Thinking that another Golden in our house might help Emerson, I answered an ad in the local newspaper for “free to a good home.” I brought the Golden home but Emerson was highly reactive toward him, so I tearfully realized I could not keep the stately old gentleman. Feeling guilty, I asked all my coworkers if they knew anyone who might want to adopt a Golden Retriever. Someone did, and Apollo went on to live a wonderful senior life. I always tease this adopter that she must have written my name on every bathroom wall in the area, because soon after I became the “go to” person for anyone with a Golden to place or wanting to adopt one. That was in 1984. In 1993, I realized it was time to incorporate and obtain non-profit certification from the IRS, so our small group made the big step.
Since then, my life has revolved around rescue and I have watched with awe and pride as DVGRR grew from a grassroots “one-woman” operation into a nationally renowned Golden Retriever rescue organization helping close to 300 dogs per year. From the very beginning, my dream had been to buy or build a freestanding kennel facility so that we could respond to dogs in need as quickly as possible and achieve the greatest level of quality care by centralizing operations. In 2000, my dream became a reality with the purchase of Golden Gateway, made possible by the generosity of everyone who contributed to our capital campaign (both financially and with the proverbial “blood, sweat, and tears”).
At home, the Goldens in my life today are Sterling, BobbyDarren, and Woody (01-051). In 1990, I obtained a show quality Golden named Spencer. As I attended dog shows, I kept seeing one particular handler, a girl with hair as red as the Goldens she was showing, having a grand time in the show ring. This was Patty McCoy Coleman, Animal Control Officer for Clarks County, NY and a group winner at Westminster. I decided that I wanted Patty to handle Spencer. Little did I realize that we would not only become best friends, we would also start a small breeding program together. My Spencer and Patty’s Betsy produced several wonderful litters that made many families happy. To this day, Sterling and BobbyD are still from our bloodline and their “looks” and temperament are exactly like their great-grandparents – Spencer and Betsy.
These days I no longer have the opportunity to play or work with the dogs on a frequent basis as the majority of my time is spent overseeing the administrative operations of DVGRR. However, I get to hear from staff about the daily challenges and successes, and I love knowing that our combined efforts enable the Goldens in our program to heal, obtain that all-important “new beginning” and go on to become cherished members of their adopted families.
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I was hired by DVGRR as Kennel Manager in July 2006 after previously working at a large printing company for eighteen years. At the printing company, I held several different positions: Customer Service Representative, Sales Support, and finally Customer Service Manager. Along the way, however, I kept thinking that this is not the path I wanted to take with my life. I wanted to do something with animals - particularly dogs.
In order to pursue that goal, I joined what was then known as the American Boarding Kennel Association or ABKA (now known as the Pet Care Services Association, or PCSA). I spent my vacations traveling to different locations to take courses in kennel management and operations. My intent was to buy my own boarding kennel or become a manager of a boarding kennel. Rescue never entered my mind.
I earned my credentials on paper but still had absolutely no hands-on experience. I noticed an ad for DVGRR and applied for a part-time caretaker job in the hopes that I could work a few evenings a week to continue my learning and get some hands-on experience to put on a resume. Then DVGRR called to inform me that the existing Kennel Manager wanted to retire in a few months and they were interested in bringing me on as manager in training; when the existing Manager left, I would step into the role. It all worked out perfectly.
I will be the first to say that I was still totally unprepared for the job! Running a rescue kennel is absolutely nothing like running a boarding kennel. We're not just housing dogs for a week or a weekend, or keeping good relations with the owners so they keep coming back. We often deal with many health and/or behavioral challenges which means jumping from task to task every day to meet the needs of the dogs in our program, but I know we are the best place for these dogs to get what they need and ultimately to be matched with the right families. It is hard work, but after three years I can't imagine doing anything else.
My family includes my wife Heidi, daughter Sophie, three dogs and one cat. Our Goldens, Bently and Miley, are both adopted from DVGRR and our Boxer, Schnitzel, was adopted from a Boxer rescue.
Project Home Life Director, Resident Caretaker
Before coming to work for DVGRR in August 2006, I was very involved in the music world. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Music from Lebanon Valley College, worked in a music store, played in several rock bands, and was a live sound engineer.
At DVGRR, I work directly with the dogs in the kennel and also live on the premises. I am responsible for ensuring that any dogs who need assistance overnight will receive it; this usually happens during thunderstorms if there are thunder reactive dogs in the kennel.
I truly enjoy seeing and helping the dogs in our program improve while they are with us. I love seeing shy dogs becoming more playful, the fearful dogs learning to trust, the anxious dogs getting more relaxed, the jumpy dogs redirecting their energy more appropriately, etc.
I have a special interest in puppy mill breeder dogs and am proud of my role in helping to develop and manage our Project Home Life program, a transitional step between kennel life and life in an adoptive home. This program gives me the opportunity to help our volunteers and adopters learn how to live with and provide the necessary support and guidance to puppy mill breeder dogs. Through a blog that I maintain on the breeder dogs, I am also able to help educate the public about the special needs and challenges of these amazingly resilient dogs.
My responsibilities at DVGRR also include helping to bathe and groom all of the the week before our Meet and Greet the Goldens Day!
I share my home with three wonderfully energetic Goldens and one Husky Mix from DVGRR: Satchel, Jilly, Sami, and Lance. Together, we love playing and listening to music, hiking and spending time outdoors.
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Prior to joining the staff at DVGRR in 2010, I spent fifteen years in direct mail marketing and warehouse management. Working with dogs is something that I have always aspired to do, as I greatly enjoy training my own dogs. The opportunity to be part of DVGRR’s team was therefore a great opportunity for me.
My initial responsibilities involved working directly with the Goldens as a member of the kennel staff. I found myself more and more drawn to the training aspect of the job and soon enrolled in the curriculum offered through the Animal Behavior College (ABC). In 2012, I received my certification in pet dog training from ABC.
As with many other staff at DVGRR, my work now requires me to wear multiple “hats,” but that is a positive development, not a negative one! In late 2011, my role expanded to include working with the adoption team, helping to match Goldens in our program with their new homes and families. At present, I have transitioned into the role of Adoption Manager and now serve as the primary matcher for DVGRR along with still working regular shifts in the kennel. My daily work with each of the dogs greatly assists in knowing which of our many approved applicants will best meet the needs of the dog in his or her new home.
Working for DVGRR is incredibly gratifying – there is nothing quite like seeing the transformation of a rescued dog in need of help to a re-homed companion showered with love and great care!
My own four-legged pack includes Kasey (9-year-old Terrier mix), Lola (3 year-old Border Collie/Dalmatian), and Buddy (11-year-old short hair cat). I love spending time outdoors, am an avid baseball fan, and enjoy fishing as a way to relax.
Education and Community Awareness Manager
I acquired my first dog in 1975, a generic-looking Shepherd mix with a pretty neurotic temperament. Despite making every mistake in the book with him, I was soon hooked on all things “dog” and crazy about canine companionship! I was in graduate school at the time, earning my Master’s degree in Social Work, and went on to spend twenty years working for county government in the field of aging services. In 1997, I made a career change to become a book editor for a small publishing company.
Along the way, I became a volunteer with the Chester County SPCA, helping with fundraising and editing the group’s newsletter. When my poorly bred, poorly socialized little mix passed away in 1985, I researched breeds, fell in love with Golden Retrievers, and purchased a wonderful Golden puppy named Eliza who lived for fourteen amazing years. In 1994, when Eliza was eight, I heard about DVGRR and filled out an application to become a foster home. From that point forward, my life became heavily focused on rescue…I always say it “gets in your blood” and there is no turning back.
As a volunteer with DVGRR, I fostered over twenty Goldens, subsequently became the Foster Home Team Leader and also began helping on the Adoption Team. Robin had been after me for years to take over editing the newsletter but after five years of doing the SPCA’s newsletter, I wasn’t ready to assume that role again. One day she asked me yet again, and to the surprise of both of us, I simply said “OK.”
My twenty years of employment with county government allowed me to take an early pension in 2007, and I left the publishing company to pursue my passion with dogs. As luck would have it, DVGRR decided at the same time to hire an Adoption Manager, and I was able to turn my thirteen years of volunteer work into a full time profession. After serving as Adoption Manager for five years, I became the Education and Community Awarenss Manager in February 2012. In this new position, I will be helping to educate our adopters and the general public about Golden Retrievers, responsible pet ownership, and other relevant topics in order to enhance adoptions and raise community awareness about the work of DVGRR.
I have learned more than I could ever imagine from my experience with DVGRR, and I continue to learn every day – from my dedicated co-workers and volunteers, from our fantastic adopters, and, most of all, from the incredible Goldens who pass through our program. My greatest joy as Adoption Manager came from finding a home for a hard-to-place dog…one that had been with us for a long time, just waiting for that very special, very compassionate family or individual to realize that they and the dog were meant to be together.
I’ve adopted five wonderful Goldens myself over the years, all middle-aged or senior dogs. Today, I share my life with 12-year-old Alli (10-239) who has graced my life since January 2011. She too, has taught me so much!
Director of Social Media & Volunteer Manager
Office and Intake Manager/Boarding Coordinator/Website & Database
For many years I dreamed of a career with a non-profit, somewhere I could make a difference in life. After many years in sales and marketing, my dream came true in 2010. I began part-time at DVGRR, working on the new Pap’s Place website store and assisting other departments. A year later, I became a full time employee, responsible for intake of new dogs, boarding reservations, database management, and website maintenance. I never thought I would be able to combine my love for dogs and helping people with my full-time career, but that is exactly what I’m doing now. I can honestly say I LOVE coming to work in the morning!
My favorite part of the job is talking with surrendering families when someone calls to find a new home for their Golden. Oftentimes the stories are heartbreaking, yet being able to provide a future for a family’s Golden that they unfortunately cannot provide themselves is very gratifying – not only for me but for the family in need. I am proud to work for an organization where the surrendering families feel as good about Golden Gateway as the people who adopt from us do, all because of what we can provide.
“I share my life with two mixed breeds and about forty Goldens,” I always tease when someone asks about my own pets, as I consider our Gateway Guests my very own while they stay with us. I am very lucky to share my office with some of our more serious cases that may need extra attention while they are here.
Each day I learn more and more from my co-workers, four-legged friends, and our wonderful members, volunteers, and adopters. There’s always a new challenge for our team to work on together.
Event Manager, Retail Manager, Bookkeeper
I joined the staff of DVGRR in 2008 after working part-time in the accounting department of a printing company for six years. Prior to having kids, I spent thirteen years as a flight attendant for US Airways.
At DVGRR, I started out assisting with bookkeeping functions but was soon given added responsibilities! Presently, I am in charge of running all of our retail operations, which includes our on-site store (Pap’s Place) and our web store
I order all merchandise to be stocked, keep the store looking neat and attractive, work the register at many DVGRR events, develop specials and sales, and fill and ship online orders. I also helped to create our most recent holiday catalog, published in November 2009.
My assorted responsibilities are all very rewarding, but my greatest sense of satisfaction comes from seeing the happy faces of both the dogs and adopters when one of our Goldens leaves to go home. I love interacting with all the dogs!
My family includes my husband, Bill, and my children Kurt (age 10) and Paige (age 7) and our golden Sammy. When I’m not working at DVGRR, I love to bake and take vacations at the beach!
I have an extensive background in accounting and have been DVGRR’s part-time accountant since May 2010. I handle all of the accounts receivable, including donations, adoption fees, memberships, event registrations, etc. I also help answer the phone when needed so you may find that I am the person on the other end of the line if you call into Golden Gateway.
To meet me in person, come to one of our events! I will often be found staffing the membership table at the Reunion, helping record auction sales at the Wine Dinner or Golden Gala, and taking food orders at Basket Bingo or Goldens in Paradise.
When I’m not working at the rescue, I’m busy caring for my family, which includes my husband Vernon, our five children, our dog Sammi (a Border collie/red heeler mix), and our guinea pig Jellybean. I stay active and healthy by jogging almost every morning!
Prior to being hired by DVGRR in July 2011, I worked at VCA Sinking Spring Animal Hospital for over nineteen years as Dr. Scott Krick’s assistant. Since Dr. Krick was the veterinary advisor for DVGRR and was involved with many of the DVGRR Goldens in need of medical care or surgery, I was well acquainted with rescue and knew several DVGRR staff members. When Dr. Krick left the practice, it seemed like a natural next step for me to come work at Golden Gateway.
A large percentage of my first few months was spent getting ready for the opening of DVGRR’s on-site Veterinary Treatment Center, which saw its first canine patient in October 2011. I was involved with much of the planning for the center, ordering of equipment and supplies, and development of policies and procedures. It was a whirlwind beginning, to say the least!
Now that the Vet Center is up and running, I work closely with our veterinarian, Dr. Victoria Boyd, who comes in several times a week to do all initial exams, spay/neuter surgeries, dental cleanings, and other needed procedures for our Gateway Goldens. I schedule all the appointments, assist with each exam or surgery, perform follow up care as necessary, and provide information about each dog’s health care status to other DVGRR staff. I also oversee medication administration, ensure that all dogs are appropriately vaccinated and microchipped, and assist with several kennel shifts each week. I love seeing the dogs respond to all the great care they receive while here, and watching them change and improve as we prepare them for adoption.
At home, I enjoy spending time with my husband, Jim, and caring for our four dogs, two barn cats, and assorted chickens, turkeys, and sheep. For relaxation, I am partial to kayaking and flower gardening.
I have been a member of the kennel staff at DVGRR since March 2007, and love working with all of the dogs in our program. Prior to coming on staff at the rescue, I was a stay-at-home mom caring for my four children: Zack, Brady, Cody, and Molly. My youngest, Molly, is actively involved in gymnastics and I am also presently working part-time as a gymnastics coach.
I have always had pets and loved the experience; in fact, my original goal in life was to become a veterinarian. My family’s current pets comprise a large medley of species and breeds. We have three Goldens (including one hospice dog), one Jug, one Boston Terrier, two cats, three rabbits, two rats, and one bearded dragon!
My experience working at DVGRR has been wonderful and I am truly grateful for the opportunity. I love being involved with all of the dogs, but have a particular fondness for those that come in so frightened and anxious that they won’t even make eye contact with humans. To see them slowly, but surely, develop a trust and comfort level, and to achieve small steps like taking treats from a person’s hand is incredibly rewarding and satisfying.
Assistant Kennel Manager
I recently became the Assistant Kennel Manager after working part-time on the kennel staff while attending Millersville University. I've graduated with a degree in Marine Biology.
I work with the Goldens in our program awaiting adoption, helping to feed, exercise, play with and socialize them. I have also assisted with ongoing maintenance and improvement of our facility. One summer I helped paint all the interior rooms of the building to freshen them up.
My greatest satisfaction has been working with the dogs who arrive very frightened and nervous. Sure, they may be harder to handle at first and will take longer to settle in than the average dog, but it is so gratifying to see them make progress, really “come out of their shell” and turn into great dogs.
I live at home with my family, which includes two younger brothers, a younger sister, five dogs and two cats. Two of our dogs, Winston and Maggie, are adopted from DVGRR and we are also providing hospice care for Lady, a DVGRR Golden with cancer.
My mom, Cindy, also works at the rescue. Our house always has a lot going on and can be very loud and crazy! When I am not working at Golden Gateway, I enjoy hiking and snowboarding.
I joined the staff of DVGRR in May 2010 and working here has brought me so many rewarding experiences, including the chance to adopt a Golden Retriever myself! My rescue job is one of three part-time positions that I juggle – I also work for the Postal Service as a Rural Carrier Associate and I help care for horses at the farm where I board my own horse. My days are always very diverse and busy!
I love working with the Goldens at DVGRR and watching each of them progress and improve, even if it happens in very small “baby steps” for some of the more introverted or challenging dogs. Coaching a puppy mill breeder dog to become braver and more interactive with people or helping a jumpy, rowdy adolescent increase his self-control is so meaningful. I also love finding out more about each dog’s individual personality just from spending time with them – recently, I discovered that one of our Gateway Guests knew how to “play dead” on command, thrusting all four feet right up in the air on his back!
My responsibilities also include helping with grooming, and I take great pleasure in making sure each Golden presents his or her “best paw forward” in preparation for adoption.
I love all the Goldens that come through our program, but I have to admit I’m more partial to the redheads. So it’s not surprising that Cooper, the Golden I adopted from DVGRR in November 2010, falls into that category appearance-wise. Cooper was a young, “wild and crazy” guy who was passed over for many weeks because of his high training needs. He won my heart very easily, however, and actually settled in far more smoothly than expected when he came home. My husband Bob and I also share our lives with Daisy, a 4-year-old Lab/Golden mix, and our horse. We have two adult children -- our daughter Charlotte will graduate in 2012 from college and our son Matthew is a member of the Air Force.
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I have been part of DVGRR’s kennel staff since November 2011 and really enjoy working here. Prior to starting with the rescue, I studied large animal science in school (graduating top in my class) and spent six months working at the New Bolton Center in Kennett Square. Although I originally thought veterinary medicine would be a career goal for me, I now want very much to get involved with investigating animal cruelty cases and rescuing both small and large animals from abuse and neglect situations. I hope to pursue training in this area while continuing to gain more hands-on dog experience through my job at DVGRR.
One of my responsibilities is to process and review the applications we get from prospective adopters. After the application is approved, I then schedule the home visits, so we can match the right Golden with the right adopter. It’s great to see wonderful dogs go to their fur-ever homes.
Seeing the “before and after” changes in the dogs that come through Golden Gateway is the most rewarding aspect of the job for me. I’m particularly drawn to the puppy mill breeder dogs and others that have special challenges. In March 2012, I adopted Ernie #3, one of the NC 20 dogs rescued from North Carolina the previous month. Like his companions, Ernie was an outside dog who had very little socialization, so he certainly falls into the challenging category. I’m so pleased to have him as part of my family!
In addition to Ernie who is renamed "Roper", my animal pack includes one other dog (Tinkerbell, a Border collie), one cat, one horse, and one rabbit.
I’ve been on staff at DVGRR since January 2012 and am a member of the kennel staff and assist with feeding and exercising the dogs, cleaning kennels, and all other aspects of daily dog care at Golden Gateway. I’m also currently attending Harrisburg Area Community College in Lancaster, where I'm majoring in Communications. I hope to transfer to Millersville University or Penn State Berks to major in English. Before working at DVGRR, I was employed by Rite Aid for two years.
When I first heard about DVGRR, I knew I wanted to work here. I was very interested in working with dogs because I love animals; dogs are definitely my favorite. One of the best things about this job is seeing all the different personalities of the dogs in the program. While I really enjoy the active, “wild and crazy” young ones, I also enjoy playing with and petting the cuddly, older dogs. One of the best feelings is seeing the dogs go to their fur-ever homes, especially those like Annie Rose or Buster who have waited a long time for just the right family.
At home, I have an eight-year-old Golden named Erin and a two-year-old cat named Autumn. If I could have more animals, I definitely would! Unfortunately, I’m not able to at the moment, but as soon as I can, I sure hope to bring home one of the DVGRR dogs to join my family!
Pap’s Place Store Associate
I grew up with dogs and always knew they would be part of my family. A few years after my husband and I got married, we rescued a nine-month-old Golden Retriever whose original owners could no longer care for her due to allergies. Maddy was a great dog that lived for over fifteen years and crossed the Rainbow Bridge in October 2011.
My daughter's Girl Scout troop visited DVGRR in 2010, and we thought it sounded like a great organization. We decided when we were ready for another dog we would get one from here! That time came in the summer of 2012. We came to a Meet and Greet, filled out an application, then met with Julie. We were introduced to three young Goldens, but none seemed like the right fit for various reasons. Then the Doodles arrived! We fell in love with Eve, renamed Ginger, and she became a part of our family. She has been a delight – I enjoy just about all dogs, but my favorite will always be the one I share my home with!
Now I am both an adopter and employee of DVGRR. I was hired in March 2013 to oversee Pap’s Place, our on-site retail store. Working in Pap's gives me the opportunity to meet people and their pets every day, which is so enjoyable. I love hearing the stories people share and helping them find something for the furry friend, a human friend, or themselves.
I would say my life is a very busy one! Besides my part-time job at DVGRR, I teach Zumba, work as a secretary at my church, and serve as PTO president at my son's school. I enjoy arts and crafts, such as sewing, wood-burning, crocheting, jewelry-making, and scrapbooking. My family includes my husband, Pete, my daughter, Sydney, my son, Nathan, and of course Ginger.
I’ve been a member of DVGRR’s kennel staff since September 2012, but dogs have been a big part of my life for quite a while before that. I’m a longtime volunteer with Susquehanna Service Dogs (SSD), and my work with them involves whelping new puppies bred to be prospective service dogs. I also assist with raising and training the puppies once they are older. Kirby, a Labrador retriever that has whelped several litters for SSD, lives with me on a full-time basis.
I completed the Veterinary Assistant program at Lancaster County Career and Technology Center and am currently pursuing my Veterinary Technician degree through Penn Foster College.
Working in a rescue setting has always been a goal of mine, which is what drew me to DVGRR. In my role working hands-on with the dogs in our program, I especially enjoy interacting with the dogs that are shy or scared. It is so very rewarding to see them progress and improve while they are here!
I am a graduate of Lancaster County Career and Technology Center’s Veterinary Assistant program and have been working at DVGRR since September 2012. I have always been a huge animal lover and have always had animals in my life, from dogs and cats to birds and gerbils.
I love working at DVGRR because I love seeing dogs like Wyatt or Goldie that have some challenges find a home. The look in their eyes and seeing how excited they are to start a new life is so awesome!
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