Where It All Began I grew up in a small, quintessential New England town—
Boxford, Massachusetts. Boxford is very rural and only a few minutes from the New Hampshire and Maine borders. Growing up, we always had a dog or two, and all were mutts and mixes that somehow made it to our house. We never had a golden retriever, but we had a neighbor who had a golden, and his name was Riley. I was about 15 in 1980 when Riley was a young golden and would trot down to our house. My three brothers and I were almost always outside playing ball or just hanging out with our friends. Sun or snow, we were always outside. Riley’s owners did not have children at the time, so we knew he just followed the kids' voices in the neighborhood to hang out with us, tail always wagging. We played baseball nearly every day during spring and summer in the front yard. Riley knew the game well and played outfield, waiting for the ball to come his way, and when it did, he would take off with all of us running after him (which is what he loved). He hung out with us each and every day. I remember having fur from Riley in my used 1979 Chevy Chevette, despite him never being inside my car. I would arrive at school or work and a part of Riley would be with me…on my shoes, skirt, or pants. All of you golden retriever owners reading this will understand the phenomenon of your car having dog hair everywhere despite your dog never going anywhere near the car, room, or other space. It’s just everywhere, and golden retriever owners approach it as an accessory to every outfit. But I loved that dog. He was with me from morning until night, when his owner, Peter, would come and pick Riley up with his pickup truck. I can still see Riley, at the end of any given day, curled up outside our front door on the mat. Peter would have to coax him into the truck, only for him to return the next day to our house. This went on for many years. I was a young adult, 21 years of age, when I moved away from home. Along with all the thoughts and dreams and things that are important to a 15 to 21-year-old, such as friends, boyfriends, social life, and college, I remember telling myself that when I had my own place, my first dog would be a golden. Fast forward to 1990. I was 25 and had just purchased my first home. I had a kitchen table and chairs donated to me by friends and a bedroom set. In 1990, I
was not aware of rescues. I would scour the Sunday Boston Globe newspaper looking for a golden retriever, and I found a breeder in New Hampshire that had a four-month-old golden for $200. I’m not sure how I was able to scrape up $200 back then, but I did, and off to New Hampshire I went. When I arrived at the breeder’s home, the breeder made me an offer for the two goldens she had left from the litter, but I had exactly $200 on me and had not another nickel to my name. So, I headed home with Bojangles, my very first golden retriever. I had 13 wonderful years with Bo. I discovered this wonderful breed as a young teenager with Riley and then with my own Bojangles. I have come across many wonderful breeds and mixes and mutts in my 56 years, but a golden retriever stole my heart a long time ago, and this is where my heart and passion lie. I have had seven golden retrievers in my life, and rescue is the biggest way I can give back to honor those who have given so much to me over these past several decades. Each one teaches me many life lessons—trust, joy, companionship, and living each day as if it was your last tennis ball! I recently connected with Riley’s mom, our neighbor from Boxford, Massachusetts, after nearly 36 years. I shared my memories of Riley and the profound effect he had on my life and that he was one of the biggest reasons for starting Goldens Without Borders. I have volunteered with several rescues, attended many events, donated on a regular basis, and have fostered nearly 100 rescue dogs in my life before starting Goldens without Borders. I have had many blessings in my life that include my husband, our son, Zack, good friends, and family. These blessings are all in addition to the handful of goldens that I‘ve been fortunate enough to also call family in my adult life. Many ask me why not save all the dogs in need and not just golden retrievers, and my first response is this: I would love to save them all but feel strongly that I need to do what’s best for the dogs I do save—meaning that I need to know how to assess behavior and temperament, be somewhat of an expert in health and medical issues that this breed is prone to, and know how to place them in the best forever home I can find. Goldens are what I know. I love all breeds— small, large, and everything in between, but I would not do justice to other breeds that I know very little about. Secondly, there are so many goldens in need in other countries that it takes everything that my small board of directors, the handful of volunteers, and I have in order to do what we do. There are already never enough volunteers, time, or money to save the many more goldens that could use our help. We leave so many goldens behind, and that is what keeps me up at night. How could we possibly do more than what we are doing?
Nov/Dec 2021 | VIEW ON MAGAZINE |