Spotlight On: Cathy James
We’re shining the spotlight on long-time volunteer, Cathy James. She has this to share about how she got started and why she volunteers:
“I started volunteering in August 2010. I had just lost Amber, my first Golden (but not a DVGRR dog), and wasn’t ready for another dog, but I wanted interaction with Goldens. My dad adopted from DVGRR back in 1993 (I think he was the second person to adopt from DVGRR), so thought I would check it out.
“I started out as a dog walker and there was one Saturday when they were doing Monthly Open House (formerly Meet and Greet). I knew that was something I wanted to do, so Donna Baker put me on the list. Then I needed shoulder surgery and couldn’t walk dogs or handle one at Monthly Open House, so Heather Hatt suggested Project Home Life (PHL).
“That’s how I got started, and it went from there. So now I walk dogs, work with dogs in PHL and during Monthly Open Houses, do home visits, and occasionally help with events.
“I think I get the most reward out of PHL and seeing the change in dogs as they progress through the program. I just love being there and giving love to as many dogs as I can. I think it helps me sometimes more than them, especially now that I don’t have a dog.
“I like dog walking because not only do I get a lot of exercise but the dogs do, too. Plus, I can talk to them and give them love… and cheese.
“At the Monthly Open House events, it’s important to represent the dog the best I can so they can get adopted. The best part is seeing that people have signed up to adopt them, especially if that dog has been at Golden Gateway for a while. I also enjoy bath day prior to these events because I just love interacting with the dogs and Heather and Nicola.
“I’ve been lucky to be the mom to two beautiful Goldens. My first was Amber, and she made the trek relocating from Florida to Reading, PA with me. She crossed the Rainbow Bridge on July 4, 2010 after battling kidney failure. It took me a year and a half before I was ready to adopt. I adopted Kory from DVGRR in February 2012. She was 7 and surrendered because she had diabetes. She crossed the Rainbow Bridge on March 4, 2018 at the age of 13. I miss both of them a lot and look forward to adopting again.”
Thanks for the many, many things you do for the dogs, Cathy!
Spotlight On: Craig and Diane Sagemuehl
We’re shining the spotlight on Craig and Diane Sagemuehl who participate on volunteer teams for Meet & Greet, dog walking, play times, and Project Home Life (PHL). Diane also helps with Life Skills classes and puppy socialization. Since they began volunteering about six years ago, they’re always willing to help wherever they’re needed, are always enthusiastic, and truly love the dogs.
The Sagemuehls describe their history and reasons for volunteering for DVGRR: “We saw a notice for a Meet & Greet and decided to stop in to see the dogs and the facility. We talked to Heather, took a tour, and got information about PHL and volunteering. We were hooked! We were both still working full time and had family responsibilities, so we volunteered one Saturday a month with PHL in its former location in the basement apartment at the caretaker’s house. Since retiring, we’ve been able to get more involved with volunteer activities.
“We have both always loved dogs and have always had them as part of our family. After finding out about DVGRR and its mission, we were excited for the opportunity to become involved with this outstanding organization. The best thing about volunteering at DVGRR is spending time with these amazing dogs – for Diane, especially the puppies! We love watching them grow and helping them come out of their shells, so they can find their adoptive homes. Knowing we are helping to make a difference in their lives is so rewarding.
“A bonus of volunteering at DVGRR is the new friendships we’ve made with people who share the common bond of love for the dogs.”
Their family consists of two daughters, their husbands, a grandson, two granddaughters, and two “granddogs.” They live with their 22-year-old cockatiel, Arley, and a 15-year-old Golden Retriever/German Shepherd mix, Annibel. In addition to DVGRR, the Sagemuehls also volunteer at the Greater Berks Food Bank and enjoy traveling and spending time with family and friends.
They conclude, “DVGRR is an organization that does all the right things for the right reasons, and it is our privilege to be associated with them and some of the finest people we have ever met.”
Spotlight On: Ann Marie & Jason Nicholas
Ann Marie and Jason Nicholas are the volunteers we’d like to put in the spotlight. They’ve been volunteering for DVGRR for about 10 years, helping with Project Home Life (PHL), Meet & Greet, Transport Team, and spreading the word about our mission at community events.
In answer to why they do it, Jason says, “Volunteering in general is important to me, and I’ve been a volunteer firefighter since I was 14. Hopefully, my volunteer experience motivates others to find the cause that speaks to them and volunteer, too.”
Ann Marie adds, “Volunteering is my ‘therapy.’ I’ve always loved animals and knew I’d spend part of my life working with them. Although life choices took me down a different career path, volunteering is a natural fit. No matter how crazy or challenging life can be, working with PHL dogs grounds me.” Jason agrees and shares that his favorite part is spending time with dogs, giving them as much love as possible.
In the 10 years in which they’ve been part of the DVGRR family, they’ve adopted seven dogs. Today the family consists of Jason, Ann Marie, Jessie (13), Daisy (14), Trooper (10), and Mickey (16). They first learned about DVGRR in 2007, and at the time had two 2-year-old Goldens, Sassy and Jessie. After Sassy was sadly killed by a car after chasing a rabbit into the street, they – and Jessie – were devastated. A friend told them about DVGRR. There were no puppies available at the time (and they adopted a puppy elsewhere), they were touched by the senior dogs and started volunteering twice monthly, specifically to spend time with the seniors.
Since then, they provided hospice for Dusty (Dusty’s Den at the Sanctuary is named in his memory), took in Conrad (whose owner was deployed and had no family to take him), Cierra (relinquished after her family lost their home in a foreclosure), Daisy (who “picked” them and was their first puppy mill survivor), Trooper (their first special needs dog), Harley (a dog that changed their lives), and Mickey (the oldest dog relinquished to DVGRR).
Jason is a deputy coroner in Lehigh County and works part-time as an EMT. Ann Marie is a business analyst for an insurance company, working from home – perfect for four senior Goldens! Spare time is spent with the dogs, with Sundays reserved for Eagles football or NASCAR.
Spotlight On: Robin Wenger
We’re turning the spotlight on one of our volunteers, Robin Wenger, who is one of our dog walkers; helps with Life Skills training, puppy socialization and grounds maintenance; and is also on the Transport Team, having helped with the Texas rescue. Robin shares about her experience with DVGRR:
“I have been aware of DVGRR for many years. I was first made aware of the organization around 1988 from a Maryland woman who was also involved in telecommunications and was a member of an association to which I also belonged. I knew way back then that I wanted to volunteer after I retired. When I retired from my telecom position and went to Wenger’s of Myerstown Motorcycle sales, I sponsored an open house and fundraiser for DVGRR.
“I love the dogs at Golden Gateway, and the people are pretty great, too! It is really neat to get to know each dog, and I enjoy watching them come out of their shell as we work with them. What a great feeling you get when each dog finds their fur-ever home, knowing that you helped in some small way!”
Robin and her husband, Glenn, have two dogs. One is a yellow Lab, named Dakota, and the other is a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, named Bear-Bear. As a Lab, Dakota loves to eat, and when it’s time to come in the house, they say “kennel,” so she knows she’ll be getting a treat. Otherwise, she lies down and looks at them. Bear-Bear (whose name started as “Bear” but was changed because of one of their nieces always repeated his name) comes as soon as he’s called. He loves attention.
Walking and baking are some of Robin’s hobbies, and together with Glenn, they enjoy spending time with their dogs and motorcycle riding. They’d taken a cross-country ride to North Dakota and enjoyed it so much that became their Lab’s name.
Spotlight On: Carol Hoskinson
We’re putting the spotlight on one of two of our Guardian Angel award winners, Carol Hoskinson, a long-time supporter and volunteer.
Carol said, “I’d been aware of DVGRR for many years, but in 2012, I learned of the NC20 rescue and followed those dogs closely over the next few months. Then we decided to bring Caroline (one of the rescued dogs) home. After a long year of adjusting to life with her, I became interested in DVGRR’s work with fearful dogs.
“Now I volunteer at The Lynne Glennon Sanctuary in Project Home Life, working with fearful and senior dogs. I also volunteer in the Life Skills and Basic Manners training. We work with the dogs in the main kennel helping them adjust to things they will run into in their adoptive homes such as meeting strangers, getting in and out of cars, getting used to strange objects, etc. Plus, I help with setting up events and whatever else is needed when I have additional time.
“I love helping the dogs adjust to new people and situations and just offering them some comfort. It’s always a special moment when you see a dog make progress, no matter how small. The first time they give you eye contact is always very special. I also like giving the dogs some structure for them to gain confidence, so I work with the Sanctuary dogs, teaching them some very basic obedience skills. That varies by the individual dog. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the great people who work and volunteer at DVGRR. They all contribute to DVGRR being a wonderful place to volunteer. I really value the common goals we share, and I especially like the friendships I’ve made here.
“My husband, David and I currently live with our DVGRR girls, Caroline (an NC20 mama) and Mary (a comical yellow Lab). Our first dog together was our Golden Retriever, Jake. Over the years, we added three Newfoundlands (Dreyfuss, Gretchen, and Emmett), a Newfie mix, Newt, and two cats. Previously, I had a German Shepherd and grew up with them. David and I are enjoying retirement and spending time with our dogs.”
Thanks, Carol, for all you do!
Spotlight On: Joan Jambor
If you’ve adopted a DVGRR dog, chances are you’ve spoken to volunteer, Joan Jambor. Joan makes our follow-up phone calls, and we wanted to put a face with a voice and let you learn more about her:
“My life’s passion is the welfare of animals, especially dogs, having been in love with dogs since I was a little girl. I became particularly enamored with Golden Retrievers after getting my first dog, Jessica, in 1994. Over the years, my family has included a total of ten dogs, six of which were rescues, including a special needs puppy, a senior dog, and middle-aged dogs as well.
“I’ve volunteered for various rescue groups, and after returning to New Jersey in 2009, I adopted Grady, a 4-year-old Golden from DVGRR. I began volunteering for Meet & Greets, and over the last 18 months, I have had the pleasure of calling all the adopters for post-adoption follow-ups as well as speaking with many prospective adopters in the pre-adoption phase regarding their adoption applications.
“Whether it’s the pre-adoption phase when families are so enthusiastic at the prospect of adding a family member or the post-adoption process when the adopters are so happy with their new furry friend, I find it extremely rewarding to be a part of the process of finding dogs their forever homes. Add to that my ability to work with and support the dedicated and wonderful staff at DVGRR and I feel very fortunate in my work every single day.
“I currently share my life with two special dogs – Yogi, an 8-year-old Golden and therapy dog, and Stella, my 6-year-old Golden-hearted girl, and two very sweet rescue cats.”
Thanks, Joan, for all you do!
Spotlight On: The Wiltrauts
We don’t have official crowns, but Frank and Cindy Wiltraut might just be our king and queen of transport. Since we started keeping detailed transport hours in August 2014, they have clocked over 233.5 hours on the road and traveled 9,947 miles to transport the dogs to Golden Gateway. In addition to their transport volunteer duties, Frank and Cindy also volunteer monthly at our Meet & Greet events.
Here’s how Frank and Cindy describe why they volunteer and their experiences:
“We’ve been DVGRR volunteers for over four years and have thoroughly enjoyed every minute. We were very proud to become a part of this extraordinary organization. Our own Golden Retrievers have had such a positive impact on our lives that we wanted to take the opportunity to give back to this amazing breed.
“We have since met many dedicated individuals at DVGRR who share our passion for the dogs. Most of our volunteering is centered around Meet & Greet events and transporting. It’s very rewarding to know that we are contributing to finding these super dogs forever homes. This certainly is the driving force for us.
“In our 22 years of marriage, we have owned five Golden Retrievers and currently share our lives with Ralphie, Trixie, and Albert, the cat. Our hobbies include travel, our dogs, reading, and cooking.”
We can’t thank the Wiltrauts enough for their dedicated service. So many miles have resulted in so many dogs finding their way to Golden Gateway and ultimately, their new homes. Thank you!
Spotlight On: Barbara Bennethum
We’re shining the spotlight on long-time volunteer and adopter, Barbara Bennethum. Barbara first learned of DVGRR after reading about the early days of DVGRR looking for foster homes. She began volunteering at the start of the capital campaign to raise money to purchase Golden Gateway.
She adopted her first DVGRR Golden in August 2002, and 15 other DVGRR Goldens followed! Of those, only one was a puppy that was 3 months old when struck by a car. Her owners couldn’t afford to treat the fractured leg. Dr. Krick repaired the leg so well that Barbara can’t remember which one it was. To this day, that dog, Heidi, runs instead of walks and will be 10 years old soon.
Volunteering is a lifelong commitment for Barbara. She says, “Since I partially retired a year ago, I volunteer every Thursday evening and one Sunday morning per month. I arrive at 5:00 p.m. and begin helping in the kitchen, washing food bowls. By 5:30, it’s time to begin walking dogs. I usually walk six to seven dogs. I try to reinforce good leash manners and still give the dogs exercise. I also appreciate the exercise I get. I’m happy to give back to my beloved Golden Retriever breed for all the happiness they have brought into my life. I love the seniors and try to make any time they have left in this world a good, comfortable, and happy time.”
Thank you, Barbara, from all the dogs and staff at Golden Gateway!
Spotlight On: Lorrie Buck
Lorrie has been volunteering with DVGRR for two years, but she is like part of the family. She pops in weekly to see if we need anything done that she could help with. Amy keeps her plenty busy asking her to do local transports for us as well as the Philadelphia airport runs. On days we don’t need Lorrie for transport, you may find her in Pap’s Place helping ship items, sweeping, cleaning, pulling weeds, or even organizing one of the sheds! At events, Lorrie is always one of the first to arrive to help set up and do whatever is needed that day. Lorrie has a true volunteer heart – she is here for the dogs and expects nothing in return, and is always humbled when we thank her for helping.
Lorrie said, “When I retired early, I knew I needed something to do that has a purpose. DVGRR is local, and I have always had dogs in my life (mostly Labrador Retrievers). Volunteering was a perfect fit. In the two years I have volunteered, I have transported dogs and assisted at events. There are times I clean, break down boxes, and pull weeds. It is a labor of love and ‘all for the dogs.'”
Spotlight On: Lee Becker
Lee Becker has done an amazing job organizing transportation volunteers for the past seven years. ManyDVGRR dogs are now safely in loving homes, or cozy and safe at Golden Gateway, thanks to Lee’s time and energy. We are incredibly grateful for his dedication to our dogs and congratulate him and his wife, Kay, on their recent adoption of Brogan (#14-001).
Lee has orchestrated transports from as far away as Florida, New York, and Illinois. When dealing with an injury last year, he and Kay continued to help us get dogs into the program. As much as he loved every transport success, one dog never made it out of his car – a young male from Florida with extreme thunderstorm anxiety. Rusty and Lee bonded during the trip, and Lee made every transport assignment in honor of his Rusty (06-174).
When reflecting on his service as our transportation team leader, Lee recalled: “The first one was Tiger (#06-201) on Oct. 16, 2006 from the Luzerne Co. SPCA, and he was one I personally transported. That was 566 dogs ago!”
From all of us in DVGRR, human and canine, our heartfelt gratitude goes out to Lee and Kay.
Spotlight On: Barry Rupp
Barry Rupp is a dedicated dog walker and makes those rounds every Tuesday and Friday. Plus he serves on the Transport, Meet & Greet, and Project Home Life Teams. Most recently, Barry has made a big difference at Golden Gateway with his non-dog skills.
As you may be aware, there are a lot of physical changes happening on our grounds, and Barry has served an integral role. First, he provided a complete buildings and grounds layout of the DVGRR campus. He’s been our special projects manager, providing detailed drawings of the modifications to BARK to accommodate the digital x-ray unit as well as complete fencing and shed requirements for The Lynne Glennon Sanctuary for Senior Goldens and Puppy Mill Survivors.
He’s worked with the contractor and septic repair company to pinpoint and correct issues with our septic tank system and is currently serving as the contact point for the interior remodel of the Sanctuary.
Thanks, Barry! We certainly appreciate your time, dedication and expertise.
Spotlight On: Regina Newell
“I learned about DVGRR through an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about famous Philadelphians and their dogs in 2000. Ed Rendell was one of the people included, and he and his wife had adopted Mandy (#96-106) from DVGRR.
“I began volunteering shortly after DVGRR created Pap’s Place and BLTs as a result of a mailing recruiting adopters to become volunteers. My husband and I have adopted four dogs from DVGRR: Cody #18 (00-064, RB 2008); Buddy #33 (07-061, RB 2011); Murphy #13 (11-035) and Erin #1 (11-036).
“I volunteer in Pap’s helping with retail sales and also serve on the Community Events team. My favorite time is Meet and Greet, especially when a dog is adopted, and they come into Pap’s for a new collar and leash… and maybe a new name tag and toys! The dogs seem to know they are going home.
“The highlight of my volunteer work has been taking Pap’s ‘on the road’ to the Golden Retriever Club of America (GRCA) Nationals in 2008 in Warwick, RI, and again in 2011 in Conyers, GA. We met so many wonderful folks at these events. (The next one on the east coast will be in 2014 in North Carolina.) One of the highlights of the Nationals is the Rescue Parade. We had SIX DVGRR dogs in the 2011 parade!
“When I tell my friends about DVGRR, I tell them about the wonderful care the dogs get, including training. I also tell them that I love adopting older dogs!”
In addition to volunteering, Regina is also our go-to seamstress when we have a sewing project. Regina has sewn beds for our transport crates, and her latest project was making the donation vests for the dogs to wear at community events! (Pictured here at Golden Gala.) She even made “themed” shirts that we used as Silent Auction items at our fundraisers!
Spotlight On: Susan Evasew and Renee Hashinger