I have two golden retrievers, but I could certainly use more. I can't afford more, so I volunteer once or twice a month at the Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue (DVGRR). I am a Certified Canine Massage Therapist, and I go there to massage dogs.
For those who say "Oh I could never volunteer at one of those places, too depressing," let me say that DVGRR is a cheerful, upbeat place, where the doggies are treated like royalty. Sling beds, cheese at 1 p.m., before nap-time, and peanut butter stuffed kong to take to bed are a few of the amenities. Playgroups are formed for those who like to play together, and thunder-phobic dogs are housed in the offices where a word or pet is always available. I can only add that the kennels are usually cleaner than my house, and you can begin to get the picture. All "residents" are fed premium food, and treats abound.
Many dogs are surrendered because of health issues that the owner can't afford, these dogs go immediately to the vet and if possible the health issues are corrected, often at great expense. Hip surgery, broken bones are fixed, mass removal and diagnosis, even stem cell therapy is done. Recently, as people are losing jobs and homes, many wonderful companion dogs are turned in.
Since DVGRR is in "puppy mill country," there are many "breeder dogs," both male and female that come into the rescue. These dogs have physical, as well as emotional problems and are able to take part in Project Home Life, a program just for them. Breeder dogs have spent 6 or seven years having puppies and never seen the inside of a house, felt grass under their feet or been socialized to people. When I first started going to DVGRR, these dogs were terrified and withdrawn for weeks and months, sometimes flattening out or losing bladder control. Since Project Home Life, which is a room set up like a living room with "distractions" such as TV, furniture and ceiling fan, these dogs are feeling more "at home" in days to weeks. Special training on interacting with these dogs is given to the volunteers who work with them and progress records are kept. There is also a support group for adopters of the breeder dogs.
When I meet a breeder dog for the first time, I evaluate things such as posture and eye contact. Sometimes I just sit in the kennel for 5 or ten minutes, then leave without touching the dog. It is very rewarding when they make eye contact for the first time. These dogs have never been touched with love by a human, much less had a belly rub.
I haven't figured out how to add links to my blog yet, but anyone who lives in southeast, or eastern PA, or in New Jersey, and who needs a golden retriever, may put DVGRR into their search engine and look at the adorable pictures of adoptable dogs.
My Sunny and Cassie were both breeder mamas and they are wonderful dogs.
Have a fun day, Love, Linda