Would you like to help but aren’t sure what you can do? We have many volunteer positions that will coincide with your availability, talents and interests. Don’t feel that you have to live close to Golden Gateway to be involved! We offer hands-on opportunities with our Goldens, as well as other opportunities for those not capable of working directly with the dogs due to time constraints or location. We are always looking for volunteers to accomplish our goals and are grateful for every volunteer’s participation. Visit our Voluteer Spotlight page to see just how thankful we are.
Since the majority of our volunteers work full-time, we operate using a team structure to help foster new ideas, make improvements, and prevent work overload or burnout. New volunteers receive training and instruction prior to their first assignment and are offered various resources to help them become familiar with our procedures.
Becoming a volunteer requires you to read and agree to our Volunteer Terms and Conditions, review DVGRR’s Position on Euthanasia, as well as complete a Volunteer Application. Below you will find brief descriptions of our major volunteer opportunities. Have a new idea or suggestion? Let us know by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a volunteer for DVGRR, we ask that you:
- Take total responsibility for communicating your thoughts and ideas to your team members
- Help the team stay focused on the objectives
- Participate to the best of your ability
- Stay open-minded to new ideas
- Not only let others contribute, but encourage them to contribute
- Share your ideas
- Attend ALL meetings (on time)
- Consciously try to stay positive
- Do your best to simplify our complex problems
- Fully support all team decisions
Volunteer Teams and Opportunities
Project Home Life Team
Over the last several years, DVGRR has developed significant expertise in the area of rehabilitating and re-homing Goldens that have been used as breeding stock at mass breeding facilities, commonly known as puppy mills.
As our experience with puppy mill breeder dogs grew, and as the number of such dogs surrendered to rescue increased, we realized there was a need for a transitional step between our facility and the dog’s new home.
Therefore, in 2009, we conceived and implemented Project Home Life, an innovative volunteer-based program designed to help acclimate puppy mill breeder dogs to the typical sights, sounds, and experiences of a home setting.
Volunteers in this program work in our special Project Home Life room, carrying out specific tasks developed for each dog by the Project Home Life Manager.
These tasks may include:
- Helping dogs get comfortable with humans close by
- Encouraging dogs to take treats from human hands
- Helping dogs accept petting and touching
- Walking on a leash
Because puppy mill breeder dogs have such stunted backgrounds, helping them with these seemingly simple tasks requires great patience and compassion, thus the name “Compassionate Caregiver” evolved for the volunteers on this team.
Initial classroom training and ongoing support are provided.
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Meet and Greet the Goldens Day Team
On the second Saturday of every month, we hold our popular Meet and Greet the Goldens Day. These events provide an opportunity for prospective adopters and the general public to meet the available dogs in our program, and see our facility in person.
Planning and holding these events depends heavily on volunteer support! Team members enjoy being part of helping showcase the dogs and directly impacting their chances for a great adoption. There is no set requirement for how often you must attend; some volunteers come every month, others are only available once in a while. We appreciate whatever time you can provide.
To participate in one of these events, you’ll need to be available from approximately 9AM to 1PM that day. Meet and Greet days are held primarily outdoors (rain or shine), so dress accordingly. Rainy weather typically does not deter guests from attending and believe it or not, some of our most successful days have been held in the rain. Being a sporting breed, our Goldens don’t mind if it’s rainy or muddy!
Volunteer tasks may include:
- Greeting and directing guests to parking
- Assisting with set-up and clean-up of event
- Staffing registration, donation, and information stations
- Handling of Goldens available for people to meet
- Monitoring exercise rotation of Goldens being shown
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Foster/Hospice Home Team
Prior to the existence of Golden Gateway, all dogs in our program were housed in foster homes until adoption. Once we acquired our own facility, however, we became fortunate enough to keep the majority of our dogs at Golden Gateway while they await placement into a forever home.
Having our own facility gives us the ability to respond in an extremely timely manner to Goldens in need, which is a huge advantage over our previous foster home system. It also allows us to work closely with the dogs on a daily basis to assess their needs and progress, thereby matching them with the most appropriate adoptive family possible.
On occasion, however, we still have a need for foster or hospice homes to step in and help us care for certain Goldens, on either a short or long term basis. Although the number of foster/hospice dogs changes each month depending on need, at any one time we may have approximately three to ten Goldens residing in such homes.
Foster Care is typically provided on a short term basis and may include dogs that are:
- recovering from surgery
- temporarily on restricted activity due to treatment for heartworm disease
- in need of specific socialization exercises
- in need of temporary housing if DVGRR’s Emergency Evacuation Plan has been implemented
In some cases, dogs needing foster care will be placed with families on a “foster-to-adopt” basis. This means that the family or individual is expected to adopt the dog once the acute health conditions are resolved. “Foster-to-adopt” dogs are only placed with families or individuals that are already approved applicants with DVGRR. Each situation is considered case-by-case.
Hospice Care is one of the most challenging, but ultimately rewarding, volunteer opportunities you can choose.
Dogs placed into a hospice home are typically those that have been diagnosed with very serious or terminal health conditions and whose life expectancy is therefore limited. As long as the Golden retains an acceptable quality of life, he will stay with his hospice family until the end.
Some hospice dogs live for only for a few weeks, while others surprise us and do so well that they are still around months, or even years later. Never underestimate the power of a loving, caring environment in giving a sick dog the will to survive and continue enjoying life!
For both foster and hospice care, the type of dog placed is always matched to the volunteer’s capabilities and lifestyle. DVGRR pays for all necessary veterinary care and medications, and our staff is always available for guidance and support. Unless a prescription diet is required, we generally ask the Foster/Hospice home to cover the cost of food and, if possible, heartworm and flea/tick preventatives.
Our foster/hospice volunteers may not be called upon often, but when they are needed, the members of this team are invaluable. They allow us to provide a continuum of care to serve the needs of all the dogs in our program.
Note: Because many of the same guidelines for adopting a dog apply to the fostering situation, volunteers interested in becoming a foster or hospice home are asked to complete our standard Adoption Application (no application fee required), in addition to the Volunteer Application. A home visit will also be conducted before the volunteer is approved as a Foster/Hospice home.
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Golden Gala Team
Since the first fun-filled Golden Gala in 2002, this event has become the premier fundraising effort for DVGRR and grows in popularity every year. We shed our sneakers and jeans, wash off the mud (but not the dog hair), and dress up for a great night with friends and fellow Golden lovers. If you think this event is "too fancy" for you to be involved, you’re wrong!
We have a great time, enjoy a fabulous buffet and cocktails, bid on wonderful auction items, see adopters and co-volunteers, and always have a hard time leaving at the end of the night.
Naturally, we take some of our Gateway Guests to the Gala. You can imagine the attention and petting they receive, not to mention a few surreptitiously slipped hors d'oeuvres or two as well!
The Gala Team meets regularly for planning purposes throughout the year.
Tasks may include:
- Planning and organizing the event
- Soliciting auction items
- Gathering and/or making decorations
- Greeting guests at the event
- Assisting with auction check-out
The heaviest activity for this team is often two to three days before the event. If you are a good organizer and/or persuasive when it comes to asking for donations, serving on the Gala team may be a great fit for you!
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Community Events Team
Besides helping to spread the word about DVGRR, volunteers on this team help promote responsible dog ownership and educate the public about the Golden Retriever breed. This gives us a chance to be proactive in making sure that people interested in acquiring a Golden really know the pros and cons of raising/owning a Golden and understand all that will be involved.
We cover a wide range of pet-related events throughout our footprint, so this is another great way to get involved and help with our cause even if you live a far distance from Golden Gateway. It’s also a way that your own Golden can “volunteer” as well, since we encourage the participation of personal, well-behaved, Goldens as part of the team.
Tasks may include:
- Representing DVGRR to the public at various events
- Distributing literature about DVGRR and Golden Retrievers in general
- Answering questions about our application and adoption process
Volunteers of the Community Events Team are especially needed in Berks County, Dauphin County, Lancaster County, Lebanon County, Lehigh County and all of New Jersey.
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We strongly encourage relinquishing owners to transport their Golden(s) to us at the time of surrender. However, sometimes the owners are unable or unwilling to bring their dogs to our facility. In these cases our Transportation Team volunteers step in to help. Transportation Team volunteers also help transport dogs that are coming to us from shelters throughout our footprint.
As a volunteer on this team, you may bring in a dog from relatively close by or from a distance away. In some cases, we use a “relay team” so that no one volunteer has to drive too far.
Tasks may include:
- Picking up a Golden from a private owner or from a shelter, using your own vehicle
- Ensuring that all necessary paperwork accompanies the Golden to DVGRR
- Securing the dog in your car using a crate or barrier (we’ll loan you a crate if you need one)
- Helping the dog feel comfortable during the trip to Golden Gateway (yes, that sometimes includes stopping at a fast food restaurant for a shared hamburger!)
- Making sure the dog is always safely restrained with a slip lead when being taken in and out of the vehicle
Note that for everyone’s safety and health, family pets and non-DVGRR volunteers, including children, are not allowed on transportation runs.
Our transport volunteers typically form some initial impressions of the dog during the trip, and your observations can be very helpful to our staff. Even though the time you spend with the dog is limited, you’ll undoubtedly find that the experience leaves you with the very rewarding sense that you’ve made an important contribution to the dog’s new life, because you have!
When applying as a Transportation Team volunteer, we ask that read and understand the Transportation Team Terms and Conditions in addition to the general volunteer Terms and Conditions.
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