Success story kanu-valenteKanu’s Loving Life

We adopted Kanu (15-032) on May 3, 2015. He was listed as a hospice adoption. We knew going into his adoption that it could be a short, but well-lived time with us. As a family, we decided that whether it was a day or a month, he would be well worth it! We took Kanu to our vet to review his chart and what care we should start out with for him. After a thorough exam, our vet concurred that his back legs were atrophied and his strength limited. He was throwing up his fish oil pills and joint supplement, so we switched to Omega Benefits liquid in his food. He also got a shot of Kenalog for his hot spot. Within a week, the hot spot was healed, and he was standing up at the back door! A week later, the oncologist gave him the all clear from his mast cell tumor!

He is a happy, loving dog who made himself a Valente immediately. We love him more than words can say. With daily walks and play with his doggie brothers and human kiddos, he is set for a great life. Thank you for bringing him into our lives!

Submitted by Lynne Valente


Success story dale

My Friend’s Goldens and Their Lessons

“The love between dog and man is idyllic. It knows no conflicts, no hair-raising scenes; it knows no development. Karenin surrounded Tomas and Tereza with a life based on repetition, and he expected the same from them. If Karenin had been a person instead of a dog, he would surely have long since said to Tereza, ‘look, I’m sick and tired of carrying that roll in my mouth every day. Can’t you come up with something different?’ and therein lies the whole of man’s plight. Human time does not turn in a circle; it runs ahead in a straight line. That is why man cannot be happy: happiness is the longing for repetition.” – Milan Kundera

I never had a dog of my own. Despite the silent wishes made over extinguished birthday candles or late night Christmas messages to Santa, my dad’s allergy to dust mites kept the prospect of a Golden out of the question. Nevertheless, throughout my high school years, I became very close to all six of my best friend’s Golden Retrievers (all from DVGRR, of course). Rusty and Chloe showed me what real love and companionship looked like; Gus showed me what a gift loyalty and silence can be; Jay Jay showed me that audacity with a dash of dopey only makes good intentions more endearing; Dale reminds me to calm down and appreciate the little things in a world where “unproductive” time is wasted time; and Rudy tells me that everything I commit myself to should be met with unfailing energy and enthusiasm (and to not get too attached to any material things because they will be chewed). Most of all though, they all taught me that happiness lies in the endless repetitive combination of time spent in the company of loved ones and dogs.

Submitted by Edward Percarpio

Success story wally-sirch

Wally #3 (14-190)

When our beloved Sonny, an 11-year-old Golden passed suddenly of a heart tumor in August 2014, we weren’t sure we would ever be able to open our hearts to another dog. We knew we didn’t want to go through the puppy stages again, even though we loved it with Sonny. We felt our home was lonely without a Golden! So we went through the adoption process. When we were approved in early September, we made the drive to DVGRR for the Meet & Greet. We had no expectations of returning home with a Golden. However, when we met Wally, we felt an immediate connection. We were told he was a rescue dog from Puerto Rico, somewhere in the 4-year-old range. We met all of the 31 dogs, but kept going back to Wally. He’s so loving and happy! He is a handsome dog, clearly well-behaved, yet still has puppy energy. There were several families asking for him too, but we got the nod to adopt him. We left DVGRR with our new Golden. He was smiling and we were too!

Wally’s been with us just about two months, and he’s such a loving dog. He was found in a car at a Walgreen’s in Puerto Rico, but he’s just so well-adjusted, it has made us feel like he was a member of someone’s family at one time. He loves to take walks and to run. He rolls over to get belly rubs any chance he can. Wally will give you kisses as much as you allow him too. True to the Golden’s breed, he is a “Velcro” dog. Wherever you are, he’s right by your side. We live in a lake community, so he has visited our lakes, and he’s been to the beach at the Jersey Shore. (Loves the water!) He’s discovered squirrels, clearly had never seen them before, and wants to get to know them up close and personal. Wally is happy to lay his head on your lap, and he lets us know he’s completely content being part of our family. The adjustment went incredibly well. We have two adult boys who love to play with Wally, run around the block with him on leash. Wally loves every toy in the house, and he always ready to have a tennis ball to chase. Honestly, we’re surprised we could love him as much as we do in such a short time. He’s the best! This adoption was a blessing, DVGRR runs a terrific rescue, and we’re loving every minute with our new buddy!

Submitted by Joyce Feinstein


Queenie McCabeQueenie (13-072)

Remember the dog that wouldn’t go up the stairs? Remember the dog that didn’t know what to do with a treat? The one that shied away when petted or just stood there motionless around us because she didn’t know what to do or how to react? Remember the dog that didn’t know how to play with a toy or really even play at all? The one that wouldn’t let anyone anywhere near her belly, no matter how loving their approach was? That was less than nine months ago.

In no time at all, that dog has become a real example of how an animal can THRIVE when removed from a poor situation and placed in a loving home. That dog is Queenie. She is an example of what rescue is all about. Every indicator I can think of points to the fact that Queenie is doing remarkably well. Her health is excellent. Her demeanor is happy and bubbly and silly. She plays like a puppy. She’s effusive in showing her devotion and makes it really clear that she wants to be around us – even right up against us – as much as she can.

We can never thank you enough for doing what you do at DVGRR. Queenie has brought so much joy and love into our lives, and we cannot remember a life without her. We feel confident she is enjoying her “retirement” and is very happy in her “FUR”ever home.

Submitted by Pat and Missy McCabe



Success story Hannah FisherHannah (formerly Holly, 14-042)

When our wonderful senior rescue dog, Merlin, died suddenly of cancer after being with us only six months (that’s okay:  it was a great six months for all of us, and as someone said, in dog years, six months is really three years), we weren’t sure we would ever be able to open our hearts to another dog. But home is not really home without a Golden! So we made the drive to DVGRR and met a sweet petite girl that had been rescued from the streets of Puerto Rico.

Holly was a bit timid at first but clearly loved being loved. We brought her home in March, named her Hannah (after our first Golden’s mother), and now she is our joy! She is so smart! She is learning her obedience commands very quickly, but more importantly, she is learning that life is not scary anymore and that she is safe and loved.

Hannah loves meeting people and has doggie playmates, too. It is fun to see her freeze to attention whenever she sees a squirrel or even a nearby bird. I think she would climb a tree to get to a squirrel if she could figure out how. We were surprised at how much Hannah loved to play in the snow, being a tropical girl, but she does! She would push her tennis ball into the deep snow and then dig furiously to get it out… and then the game would begin all over again. She even plays fetch with herself, tossing the ball in the air with her mouth and then chasing it.

We can tell that Hannah has been through some hard times in her life, and although it breaks my heart to think that anyone could have ever hurt her, we are so grateful to be able to give her a loving home for the rest of her life. The reward for us? A belly always ready to be rubbed, a smiling whisker-face in our faces first thing in the morning, a nuzzle to get our hands in petting mode, our giggles as we watch her try to carry three of her stuffed toys at once, and hearing her sigh of contentment as she settles down at bedtime. Hannah completes our little family and we are so glad she came to stay.

Submitted by Karyn Fisher


Rusty LawrenceRusty

I adopted Rusty (now age 11) almost three years ago. He’s a great companion. When out walking, we’ve been stopped numerous times, with folks commenting on how handsome he is. He’s the elder statesmen at the dog park, and Rusty is definitely a “ladies man.” When at the park, he strolls up to ladies and kind of says, “I’m here now; you may pet me.” When he feels like it, he gives dogs half his age a run for their money. Neighbors remark about how calm and easy going Rusty is. In a word he’s a joy.

Submitted by Alan Lawrence





Success story Merlin FisherMerlin

We met Merlin (11-222) on August 26th at DVGRR, and he came home to live with us a few days later. We had been without a Golden for several months, but I did not really understand what was missing until Merlin came home with us to give us the kind of love that, frankly, only a Golden can give. Merlin has become not only a member of our family but a beloved member of our community. Every kid for blocks knows his name, and he is only too eager to sit for a petting session. He loves Saturdays when the women’s book club meets at our house, and he patiently makes the rounds so that no one is left out of petting time.

Merlin makes sure I get my daily walks in too. One of his favorite things to do is sit on our porch and stare intently out at the garden waiting for a squirrel to show his face. Merlin is quite the acrobat and leaps in the air when it’s suppertime, all the time with that great Golden grin on his face. He is so smart, and he has learned that when it’s “bedtime,” he goes into our bedroom to sleep. He sure knows that the word “hungry” means make a mad dash for the kitchen!

People tell me how good we were to adopt a rescue dog and that Merlin is so lucky to be living with us, but I tell them that we are the lucky ones  because Merlin loves to cuddle and snuggle, Merlin is so well-mannered and gentle, Merlin has brought the joy back into our home (along with the furballs). I never thought I would adopt a rescue dog, but I am so glad that we did!

Submitted by Karyn Fisher


Success story Chester ConnerChester (formerly Bruce, 13-183)

We first met Bruce (re-named Chester) at the September 2013 Meet & Greet but waited two weeks to bring him home. He is the first of the “Sweet 16” to move to a permanent home. The extra time at DVGRR served him very well during his first day as a member of our family. Once at his new home, he quickly explored his new back yard and the rooms in our home that we left available to him. He learned to navigate steps; up was easy, down was a bit more challenging. He definitely has his eyes on a few gated rooms yet to be explored but brand new carpeting and puppies are not the greatest mix, so he’ll need to earn his way into those rooms.

As you can see, he confidently laid claim to the center of the kitchen; of course, it’s the busiest room in the house. Nothing escapes his watchful eyes! Regardless of our attempts to minimize what Chester would be exposed to during his first day, neighbors, friends, and family all came knocking to welcome him. He greeted them all, young and old, with a wag of his tail and typical puppy exuberance. And those who stayed more than a few minutes experienced his addicting warmth and affection. He so freely shared with all his new friends and family members that no one would ever guess the difficult beginnings to his life.

Chester still has much to learn but his desire to please is so evident that there is no doubt he will enjoy his continuing education. Congratulations to the staff and volunteers at DVGRR: Your success is greatly admired and appreciated. Your incredible work not only benefits the Goldens, but the adopting families too. Thank you!

Submitted by Greg and Mariann Conner


Romeo MeloneRomeo Rocks

I first met Romeo (12-214) at a Meet & Greet last month (January 2013). DVGRR contacted us and told us that my background as a former police canine handler would be perfect for Romeo because he had some trust issues and was slow to warm up to strangers. He had very little obedience training and was a toy hoarder of the first order. The only issue was that he did not like other dogs, and we have a yellow Lab, Maisey, who is 12. Romeo was full of personality, and we loved him the moment we met him. He is everything we were looking for when I submitted the application.

Everyone who meets him loves him, and he is happy and loves everyone back. His on-leash obedience is amazing now, and he sits, downs, stays, shakes hands, and gives hugs on voice and hand commands. He also relieves himself on command now. He plays fetch like a gentleman and spits a tennis ball at your feet. Romeo has learned that it is much more fun to play with someone than it is to hoard his toys. He LOVES to be groomed and will sit still for as long as you want to brush him. He gets a bit angry and grumbles if you stop too soon.

My wife is a gymnastics coach, and Romeo enjoys visiting her team every day as part of our walk. He loves Maisey but has issues with every other dog he meets. He brings Maisey toys every now and then and even loves to sleep snuggled next to her. Romeo has become a trusted and respected member of our family because he was brave enough to love and trust us. He has also shown incredible respect for our home because he knows it is his home now. I will never be able to trust him around strange dogs, but if that is his only issue, I couldn’t care less. You couldn’t get him away from us with a sack of gold! The day we picked up Romeo was a great day for our family, and I am pretty sure he feels the same.

Submitted by John Melone


Monty RobertsOur Beloved Monty

We first met Monty at the Meet & Greet session on August 4, 2012 in the kitchen of the DVGRR facility where he was surrounded by about a dozen tennis balls. It was his habit to shove the balls under cabinets, counters, and other fixtures in the kitchen and then try to retrieve them, and if he couldn’t, pester nearby humans to retrieve them for him. He even had worn spots on the tops of his front legs from habitual rubbing of the fixtures as he tried to “paw” the tennis balls out from their hiding places. Well, it wasn’t long before Monty warmed our hearts, and, one week later, on August 18, we officially adopted him, and he came home to live with us.

Monty (short for Montesquieu, but don’t call him that) is about 6 years old and was evaluated as playful and fun but anxious, loves to play ball, loyal, and also capable of settling down and being a “love bug.” After 10 weeks of living with him, he is all these things and then some. He LOVES his tennis balls, so much so that we had to ban them from indoors due to potential disaster with fragile items in the house. But don’t pity poor Monty for this restriction – we play “fetch and bring” with his tennis balls outside in his fenced-in area. (He proudly carries two tennis balls in his mouth at one time and keeps trying for three!).

He is trained to sit and drop the ball(s) until we give the command to fetch. And he has dozens of other toys inside, including antler bones, kongs, and a multitude of soft animal toys. We play with him and his toys every day, but he also has the ability to play contentedly with them by himself when we’re busy doing other things. Most evenings while we watch TV he performs for us by rolling on his back from side to side while excitedly kicking his legs in the air. We lovingly refer to this time of the evening as “Monty’s show time.” Also, did we mention that he is incredibly smart, and anxious to please? That’s our Monty.

With amazingly little effort, we were able to almost immediately curb him of his habit of “counter-surfing,” and he now sits and lays down on command. He is a voracious eater, but he has learned to sit and wait in front of his bowl of kibble until we give the command to eat. He also now sits in a designated spot and waits for the command to move, even if he loses eye contact with us for awhile when we go to another room in the house. He still has problems on the leash and jumping up on people out of sheer happiness, but the three of us are working with Dennis on these areas in Obedience Training.

In the very short time Monty has lived with us, we have come to love him as much as we loved our previous two Goldens, Marley and Baxter (a DVGRR dog). Monty is already incredibly affectionate and loyal to both of us. In fact, he sometimes has a dilemma when Dan is downstairs on the computer and BJ is upstairs in her quilting studio which he solves by taking up residence at the top of the stairs, midway between the two of us. He shares in our happiness and comforts us when we are not feeling up to snuff. He loves to curl up with us and have his ears or tummy rubbed, and we love this “quality time’ with him. In short, we love him dearly, he loves us right back, and we are so lucky to be blessed with his love, companionship, and loyalty.

Submitted by Dan Roberts and BJ Titus


Success story OscarOscar

We adopted Oscar 13 years ago, and now at age 14, he is still going strong! He’s certainly slowed down a bit, but he still enjoys the occasional swim in the pool, chasing the tennis ball (a little slower now) and lounging in the yard. Oscar may technically be a senior citizen, but he doesn’t seem to know it. He’s still active, healthy and full of life. He was a perfect fit for our family from day one, and we have DVGRR to thank!





Success story calli-robinsonCalli (06-079)

Calli was rescued before she was born. Her mother was brought to DVGRR from a puppy mill, and Calli and her siblings were born safe and healthy. Now, Calli is the one doing the rescuing.  Calli is a deep-red Golden Retriever and star member of PAWS for People, a mid-Atlantic pet-assisted therapy organization that oversees 250 therapy teams providing individualized therapeutic visits to those in need.

Calli has been a natural visitor from the start. She began by bringing smiles to elderly patients and Easter Seals clients, but her true talent flourished when she started working with children who have autism and other disabilities. Calli was the pilot dog for the University of Delaware Mobility Project, which helps very young children who are not independently mobile.

During the Mobility Project, Calli worked weekly with Andrew, a 2-year-old with spina bifida, to encourage him to use his walker so he could “walk” her and to play hide and seek to motivate him to move toward her. Calli was often a swift diversion for Andrew when his muscles tired and he wanted to stop working. Now, two years later, Andrew walks independently with crutches and loves to play catch with his four-footed friend.

Calli has been featured in both the Wilmington News Journal and the UDaily for her work with children who have autism. She has aided children in learning how to take turns brushing her, to be gentle by petting her softly, and to communicate using her as a bridge. Her work with the Asperger’s Sports Camp is part of a study examining the effects of therapy pets on children who resist physical exercise.

Calli offers her own form of rescue to hundreds of people needing her – just as DVGRR was there to rescue Calli when she was a puppy.

Submitted by Lynne Robinson

success_stories_darcyDarcy (10-212)

Darcy (foreground) came to us with a past clouded in mystery. She was found as a stray and even though she wanted to trust us, she still wasn’t sure she could count on people to be kind all the time. Well, we showed her! Nine months later, she plays with toys, does daily walks with impeccable leash manners, glides up and down the stairs confidently, sleeps in bed with us, loves road trips, and best of all, comes over, rests her head in our laps, and gazes up at us. It’s almost as if she’s saying, “So, where have you been all my life?” We can’t take all the credit for this turnaround – Benson, our gregarious Golden, helped show her the ropes (and really is the one who taught her how to do stairs). To anyone who is a little shaky about taking in a dog with an uncertain past who bears signs of being mistreated – take the plunge. Open your heart, give generous scoops of love, be patient, and know that the wonderful people at DVGRR have your back.

Submitted by Suzanne & Mitchell Nelson


Success story Molly KarlynMolly #37 (11-030)

This is a picture of Molly (right) with her little sister, Daisy. We brought Molly home on February 27, 2011. She walked into our house, found one of Daisy’s toys and proceeded to play. She was totally comfortable with her new family and surroundings. She is an absolute angel. Molly and Daisy are great together and we have seen Molly’s energy improve. She has lost a few pounds and is always smiling. I can’t say enough about the amazing efforts of DVGRR. From the medical and behavioral evaluations to the premium food fed to all the dogs, it is an outstanding organization. Molly came with thyroid disease, which had been undiagnosed before she arrived at the Golden Gateway. Her recent blood work shows that her thyroid is now functioning normally. We were also told that she had seizures and we are tracking those to determine if she will need medication. So far, she has had three, but returns to normal soon after the episode. Molly was a gift. We are grateful to give such a deserving girl a happy life. Thank you DVGRR! You definitely found the right match for our family.

Submitted by Dawn & Jay Karlyn

Success story Olivia GraceOlivia

My original intention was to pick up my Yankee Candle order from DVGRR, not another dog! But what the heck, while I was there I might as well check out the inventory. Olivia is a 7-year-old puppy mill breeder dog, and will be the third Golden we have been fortunate enough to bring into our home via DVGRR. The other two are Buddy Bear (06-093), now “Woody,” and Sebastian a WONDERFUL 14-year-old we had in hospice care for a year. In addition to Woody, we have two other canine members of the family: Carmen a beautiful 7-year-old Golden, and Sunny, a 5-year-old Labrador, also a “rescue.” We call them the “three blondes.” Now there will be a fourth!

We were diligent in doing our “breeder dog” homework so were well prepared for any behaviors Olivia might exhibit. She was clearly terrified on the drive home, even though I had brought beautiful Carmen along to keep her company… poor Carmen, she’s so well adjusted, and just could not understand why Olivia didn’t want to look out the windows and wave at everyone going by! I stopped at the bank “drive thru” and there was one horrifying moment when I thought Olivia was going to escape through my window. I had to act fast! Carmen was questioning the delinquent arrival of her biscuit from the mysterious bank tube, while Olivia was thrashing around behind my seat… the bank teller wanted to know if I wanted more biscuits? Not today, thank you!

Needless to say, we made it home and Olivia’s behaviors have been no worse then expected, and perhaps actually better than expected. I give the DVGRR so much credit for the nurturing and preparation given to this darling Golden so her introduction into the real world could be a success! I also credit my husband Scott, and our three other wonderful dogs that all form part of the family unit. They have willingly accepted Oliva as one of their own the moment she placed her first paw inside our house. Yes, there have been a few “spats,” but they are short lived and no one seems to hold a grudge. She’s been with us a little over a month now, and celebrated her first Christmas as a liberated, free spirit… joyful and triumphant! Happy New Year Olivia, and many more to follow!

Submitted by Mary Grace


Success story Jack McKillipJack #8 (05-129)

I don’t think it gets any sweeter than our Golden Retriever, Jack. I don’t know the full story of where Jack came from, or how he ended up at the wonderful DVGRR, but we are so happy that he did because it paved the path to him adopting us! We love him more than anything. He is a fantastic boy. The best words to describe Jack are loving, caring, sweet, and FUN! When he walked into our home on that October day almost five years ago, it was as if he had lived with us all of his life. He loves his older fur sister, Abbey, and his little fur brother, Elvis. You can often find Jack curled up with one of his favorite stuffed animals or chasing Elvis around the house. Jack has a way of bringing happiness wherever he goes. Children love him, and he loves them. There is nothing more wonderful than seeing Jack’s face light up when he gets a new stuffed animal, a “cookie”, or when one of us comes home from work. Thank you to everyone who made it possible for Jack to come home to us!

Submitted by Sarah McKilip & Russ Curtier


Success Story Max JacksonMax (04-152)

“You don’t throw away a whole life just ’cause he’s banged up a little.”
-from the movie, Seabiscuit (2005)

A message from Max:
Hey! My name is Max (#04-152) and that picture of me was taken at a softball complex with some of my new friends – players, parents, umpires, and especially the people who work in the food stand. (Thanks for the hot dog, guys!) They all seem to want to come over and pet me. Life is pretty good.

Of course, it wasn’t always this way. I had a family before this, but after a hurricane in Florida, I found myself in a couple of different shelters. That was a tough few months. The folks that took care of us were nice, but it’s not like having your own family. Then one day some folks came to see me at DVGRR, and I knew this would be great from the first minute we met. The people were nice and they introduced me to my (soon-to be) younger brother, Harley. We played chase the tennis ball, tug-o-war, and ‘bitey-face” for almost an hour before going home together.

… and an update from his Humans:
It’s been almost six years now since Max adopted us in 2004. Described as a “3H Dog” (Healthy, Happy and High-Energy), Max has been keeping himself busy. He loves to run next to me on my bike several times a week and also enjoys camping, swimming and running in the snow. He has earned his Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog certifications and is a member of the “Paw Partners” program at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. Max has made over 150 Pet Therapy visits since he was certified and is still going strong! I think we’ll keep him!

Submitted by Steve & Bonnie Jackson


Success story Katie 08-201Katie (08-201)

How do you spend your entire life in a cage and come out four years later loving people? I have no idea, you’ll have to ask Katie that question. She won’t answer you though, she’ll just look at you with those deep, brown eyes, asking why you haven’t started petting her yet!

Katie had a rough time of it in October of 2008 – seized by Animal Control in the “Almost Heaven” raid (a large puppy-mill) on 10/01/2008. Emaciated, matted and covered in feces, Katie went from never being out of a cage to being poked, prodded, given all her shots, spayed, had a non-malignant lump removed, teeth cleaned, and shaved down – all this in just her first few days of “freedom”!

This former breeder dog is now an integral member of our pack (Max 04-152 and Harley). She’s soooo smart-in the first 2 days Katie learned how to “heel” nearly flawlessly! And, of course, once you learn how to heel on a walk, it a cinch to learn to heel next to a bike! I’ll never forget the look of surprise and joy on her face when she realized that she was allowed to run as fast as she could – she just started running faster and faster while looking up at me with a huge “golden” grin!

Although Katie did not know how to run so well in a straight line at first (she was better at running in small circles), she quickly learned to run next to my bike with Max for trips as long as five miles! Katie was able to pass the Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog International tests only 103 days after her adoption! She also passed her advances course and was certified to be a volunteer at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia along with Max.