Volunteers Make it Possible

When you volunteer for an organization whose mission is to rescue, foster, and find forever homes for Golden Retrievers and Golden mixes in need, you’re bound to embark on an emotional journey or two. From serving as the first point of contact for a family surrendering their Golden, to fostering dogs with seemingly insurmountable trauma, RAGOM volunteers are no strangers to the joy and sorrow that come with helping Goldens find their forever home. Let’s take a closer look at the emotional journeys of some of our RAGOM volunteers.
Barney Abe

Mary, hotline volunteer

Mary, a RAGOM volunteer since 2012, does transport, home visits, foster care (22 so far!), mentoring and hotline. Of her many roles, she says foster care and hotline are her favorites.

Hotline is the first point of contact for those looking to surrender their dogs. The hotline volunteer talks to the surrendering owner to get as many details as possible about the dog and reason for surrender. The hotline volunteer then passes that information to the intake team to find a foster and arrange for the dog’s surrender.

Mary began volunteering in hotline after her dog passed away and the emotional toll it took was immediate.

“On my second or third day, I called Kathy and said, ‘I can’t do this,’” said Mary. “Kathy said, ‘Yes you can.’ And I’ve been doing it ever since.”

 

Mary says that hotline volunteers do a lot of listening. Surrendering owners who call in are usually very distressed—sometimes angry but mostly just really, really sad and in need of consoling. Mary leaves the judgement at the door.

“Many times, the surrendering owner doesn’t want to have to give up the dog, but finances, a medical condition or losing a home leave the owner no choice,” said Mary.

Occasionally hotline volunteers get calls from people whose dog is clearly living in bad situation. In those cases, RAGOM works feverishly to get the dog out of its current environment immediately, even if it means boarding it while they look for a foster.

“You hear a lot of sad stories,” said Mary. “Some nights you don’t sleep very well. You have to be the advocate and the mouthpiece for the dog until the foster takes over.”

Hotline volunteers document their conversations with surrendering owners, but Mary says sometimes the story she captures on the intake form is only a small part of what she hears.

When asked if hotline took an emotional toll on her, she said, “In the beginning, you cry a lot. As time passes, it’s all about the dog. You need to put the emotion on a different plate, and the plate in front of me is ‘I have to get the dog into RAGOM’s care.’”

Mary Tyler Moore

Laurie, lead transport coordinator

After hotline captures the information about the dog being surrendered, the intake team sends out a daily plea requesting foster volunteers. The dog’s disposition, needs and previous living environment are all taken into consideration when determining a suitable foster home. After intake finds the right foster home, they pass all the information—about the dog and the surrendering and foster homes—to a transport coordinator like Laurie.

Laurie has volunteered for RAGOM since 2009. She began as a foster and transport volunteer and is now a temporary foster and the lead transport coordinator. Her job is to arrange for the dog to get from its surrendering home to its foster home.

Her most memorable volunteer experience was about two years ago, when RAGOM received a call about 13 Oklahoma dogs needing a home. Their surrendering owner was moving into a nursing home.

The rescue organization in Oklahoma drove all 13 dogs to Minnesota in a van. Laurie and a group of RAGOM volunteers met them in a Walmart parking lot, but because of bad weather, seven of the planned foster volunteers couldn’t make it to pick up their dogs. So Laurie ended up taking all seven dogs home with her that evening.

 

“It was crazy but wonderful,” said Laurie. “It was freezing cold, but the dogs were amazing and handled the transport so well.”

The next day, the dogs went to each of their foster homes. But as soon as the dogs got to their foster homes, they shut down because they were missing their pack. So, over the next month, Laurie took four of the dogs back until they became settled enough that they could successfully separate from each other.

“I cried for every goodbye,” said Laurie.

Transport

Lloyd and Jeri, transport volunteers

After Laurie (or one of the other four transport coordinators) receives details about the surrendering dog, she reaches out to transport volunteers—like husband-and-wife team Lloyd and Jeri—to coordinate the various legs of the drive from the surrendering home to the foster home.

RAGOM volunteers since 2011, Lloyd and Jeri have volunteered in hotline, transport, home visits, screening and foster care. They enjoy transport the most because they get to meet a lot of different dogs and spend time together on the road.

Lloyd and Jeri say that when they first pick up a dog to transport, the dog is stressed. But they’ve found that Goldens have an exceptional ability to maintain joy in the face of trauma.

The first leg of the trip can be the most challenging, especially when the owners are devastated about surrendering their dogs because of unavoidable hardships. Lloyd and Jeri say it’s certainly an emotional experience but ultimately one that is rewarding.

“When it’s hard, the good thing is you know the dog is going to a good home in the end,” said Lloyd. “They’ll be medically taken care of, then have a good foster home and a good forever home, where they’ll be loved and cared for.”

Karen, foster volunteer

Karen, a RAGOM volunteer since 2005, is one such foster volunteer who receives the dogs Lloyd and Jeri transport.

Karen’s first RAGOM foster pup in 2005 was a Hurricane Katrina dog. Since then, she estimates she’s fostered anywhere from 30–50 dogs.

When asked how she would describe the emotional aspect of fostering, Karen said, “When I foster a dog, I know the first few weeks can be pretty tough. But when I see the dog start making progress, it is totally worth it.”

Karen also serves as support for struggling new fosters. “I tell them that when fostering a dog, I almost always feel overwhelmed and teary at some point during the first week,” said Karen. “They are relieved to hear that it’s hard for all of us—they assume it’s just them, or that particular dog.”

All dogs who come into RAGOM’s foster care have just had their entire life turned upside down. It’s no surprise, then, that the most rewarding aspect of fostering is when, after the first few weeks, the dog starts to flourish. By the time the dog is adopted out to its forever family, Karen says foster volunteers almost certainly cry again—but this time tears of joy because they love the foster dog so much and know they have given that dog a new chance at a happy life.

“This is why we do it again and again,” said Karen. “It’s so gratifying!”

If you’d like to join our mighty village of more than 300 RAGOM volunteers, please check out our volunteer openings.

Levi

Foster homes needed

RAGOM is experimenting with a foster program for dogs rescued from commercial breeding. So far, the pilot program has made a big impact. We’ve been able to rescue a record number of dogs in the past few months. We’re thrilled that these special dogs aren’t suffering anymore; now they’re valued for who they are instead of how many puppies they produce.

There are so many more dogs in need of rescue, but we need your help! If we can attract enough foster volunteers, we can take in even more. If you haven’t fostered before, we will support you and walk you through the process. All veterinary costs are covered by RAGOM. Those who foster a dog rescued from commercial breeding have the option to adopt them before the dog is placed on the Adoptable Dogs website page.

We are desperate for foster homes. Can you help?

Because they have never known life outside of a cage, dogs rescued from commercial breeding tend to be fearful, and lack basic skills like walking through doorways or up a flight of stairs. But helping them succeed is incredibly rewarding. Watch a video of Herbert, one of the dogs we recently rescued from an auction, learning how to walk down steps here.

Riley

Requirements:

  • If you have children in the home, they should be 10 years or older and dog-savvy
  • Need a medium or large (at least 35 pounds) confident dog to mentor your foster dog. (Learn more about why this is necessary.)
  • You do not need a fenced yard, but you need a plan to keep the dog safe. Dogs rescued from commercial breeding are flight risks because they startle easily.

Interested? Want to know more? Visit the Foster section of our website, and contact [email protected]  Let’s give these dogs a chance at a golden life!

Goodbye Prince

With many tears shed, Prince’s family had to help Prince cross over to the Bridge on August 20, 2021. He woke up feeling a little out of sorts, but still snitching socks off his mom’s feet and eating/drinking. It was later in the day that he started stumbling. His foster family took him to the ER vet right away. After running blood work, along with an ultrasound and neurological testing, the vet thought Prince had a brain tumor. The ultrasound found a tumor on and near his spleen. Prognosis was not good and they had to make the painful decision to help Prince to the Bridge.
Prince
Prince was a strong, determined boy. He was such a character and vocal, always talking to his family. He kept them laughing and entertained with his antics. Prince loved to snitch things – clothing or taking the socks off people’s feet. He was also a thinker.
Prince
Prince was a wonderful, sweet senior boy that we believe was between 11 and 13 years old when he came to RAGOM. He and his foster family decided that he would be officially a young 12 year old. Prior to coming into RAGOM, Prince was living in a small room/area of a house, not getting enough to eat, and not being let outdoors to do his duties. At night he was forced outside in hopes he would run away.
Thankfully a RAGOM adopter saw him and contacted RAGOM. Prince was malnourished when he came into RAGOM and had some bad teeth that needed to be removed. He felt bony with little to no muscle mass on his spine or upper hip area. The RAGOM vet felt Prince was never given the opportunity to build muscle mass/tone in his previous home. It was a slow process but Prince eventually reached a healthy weight and his endurance grew each day. He enjoyed short walks and his “moving around” time in the yard.
Prince

Prince was a sweetheart! He loved his people and nothing pleased him more than spending his day with them. Prince loved the backyard and the house – his two favorite places to be.

Prince’s foster family noticed that Prince displayed signs of being abused when he first came to their home, but he learned he could trust them and loved the petting he would receive from them. Prince loved toys and large Kong tennis balls. He loved to play housekeeper and would pick up any clothing you may have had laying around, mostly socks and towels. He loved looking for a bunny, seeing a bunny, chasing a bunny, catching a bunny – anything that had to do with a bunny. Prince also loved to be talked to.

Prince

Prince had so much love to give and brought great joy to many. The tough life he had prior to RAGOM disappeared the moment he entered RAGOM. Prince wanted and needed a very simple life, which RAGOM provided for him. Four years is a long time for a dog to be in a rescue, but RAGOM’s dedication to keeping Prince safe, secure and loved, with a wonderful foster family that loved him, was priority. Prince’s foster family’s plans were to adopt Prince, prior to his passing, but he became sick very quickly and within less than a few hours they had to say their goodbyes.

His family wrote, “We are forever grateful that RAGOM picked us to be Prince’s Mom and Dad. He will forever be our ‘Poo or Momma’s Boy’. Prince was adopted by us posthumously. Rest in peace our sweet boy; we love you!!” You were loved Prince. So very loved.

A Good Cause. A Great Day. Goldzilla, It Was GIGANTIC!

It was big, it was hairy, it was great!

Thank you for making Goldzilla 2017 a success! We’ve added up the walk pledges, corporate sponsorships, raffle ticket sales, silent auction sales, merchandise and concessions sales, and other donations. With your help, Goldzilla raised $87,207—almost $5,000 more than last year!

To learn how your donations support dogs in RAGOM’s care, read Where Your Money Goes.

We look forward to seeing you at Goldzilla 2018 on Sunday, September 9.

Originally posted on Monday, July 10, 2017:

Join us Sunday, September 10, at Long Lake Regional Park in New Brighton, Minnesota for Goldzilla, RAGOM’s annual Fun Fair and Walk for Rescue—and one of the biggest Golden Retriever events in America! All funds raised at this event support our mission of rescuing and rehoming Golden Retrievers and Golden mixes of all ages. Admission is free!

There is so much to see and do, including activities for both you and your dog: K9 NoseWork demonstrations, a tricks booth, lure course, doggie lotto, agility area, off-leash play, swimming, and a social media photo contest. Plan a shopping spree in the vendor village and scope out the silent auction and wine pull.

But perhaps the most fun is the Walk for Rescue. Register for the walk and collect pledges to earn fabulous prizes.

A good cause. A great day. Goldzilla—it’s GIGANTIC! For more information about this event, visit the Goldzilla website.

2017 Goldzilla

Newspaper recognizes book about RAGOM dog Sully

The Pioneer Press recently recognized the children’s book “Sully” in their feature on children’s books that teach and touch the heart. Sully was rescued by RAGOM from Turkey, and is now a certified therapy dog. His story will inspire you and make you smile! Read the article here.



Join us for Goldzilla on September 19

This year’s Goldzilla event will be held Sunday, September 19, 2021 at Long Lake Regional Park in New Brighton, MN. More details will be coming soon!

Visit Goldzilla Website

Grateful for What We Have, but We Could Use a Little Help

We have much to be grateful for at RAGOM.

All of the dogs at RAGOM are safe in loving foster homes. Our volunteers are doing amazing things every day to ensure each dog gets care, and we are continuing to rescue dogs in need (while following social distancing guidelines and local ordinances).

We know times are tough. But if you’re able, we could use a little help.

Donate to Help RAGOM Through COVID-19

Although our adoptions are on hold while we get through the pandemic, our expenses keep coming in. Normally, adoption fees make up a significant part of our monthly budget, and regular donations arrive in our mailbox.

We have 75 dogs currently in our care, and they’ll all be with us at least through the pandemic. In addition to their veterinary bills, we need to cover their monthly prescriptions: heartworm and tick preventatives, parasite medications, antibiotics for ear infections, medicines for fearful dogs who are overcoming trauma, and pills for arthritic senior dogs.

We are bracing and preparing for the months ahead. If previous economic downturns are any indication, we may see a large increase in surrendered dogs in the coming months. We are doing all we can to prepare, so we’ll be able to welcome and care for a potential influx of Goldens.

Donate to Help RAGOM Through COVID-19


Julie gave us a big surprise

Julie

Several weeks ago, five-year-old Julie arrived in our care. We rescued her from an auction during a breeder sellout. She was so emaciated her ribs protruded.

Julie was being fostered in South Dakota, where vet surgeries are still being performed. Yesterday, her foster brought her to the vet for her spay appointment. Before surgery, the veterinarian examined her and noticed something shocking: Julie is very pregnant. She’s due to give birth any day.

This came as quite a surprise, because another vet clinic somehow missed the pregnancy just a few weeks before. Julie’s foster mom had noticed some little changes, but she’d been giving Julie extra food to help her gain weight, and many breeder rescues arrive with low hanging mammaries. And because Julie is shy, her foster hadn’t been rubbing her belly.

Julie's X-ray
Surprise! Julie’s x-ray reveals lots of puppies.

Julie’s foster didn’t have the needed supplies to care for a mama dog in labor, or the puppies that follow. We’re in the midst of a pandemic and we had a dog ready to give birth at any moment, so quick decisions had to be made. A volunteer drove for hours to get Julie to a new foster who had the needed equipment, as well as previous experience in caring for mama dogs and infants.

We are excited and ready to give Julie and her puppies the care they need. But her story is just one of the 75 dogs currently in our care. Each of them requires funds to ensure they stay safe and healthy. If you’re able to help, we’d be grateful for your support.

Donate to Help RAGOM Through COVID-19

What It’s Like for Your Dog to Have Heartworm

Heartworm disease is caused by worms, which live in your dog’s heart. It is extremely serious, and deadly if left untreated.  Many people think that heartworms are rare in the Midwest and don’t give their dog the needed monthly preventative pill.

Heartworms

RAGOM regularly receives dogs that are suffering from heartworms. The treatment is long and grueling.

Leo

Leo underwent treatment for heartworm while in our care, which meant spending most of his time in a kennel.

About a year ago, we discovered Leo had heartworm when we welcomed him into our care. Leo endured treatment for four consecutive months to overcome his heartworm disease. The treatments, which involve medical injections from very long needles, are painful and exhausting.

Leo had to be in a crate or leashed and attached to his foster mom at all times. Dogs with heartworm are not allowed to run and play, or even go for walks. They must be kept very still because physical exertion increases the rate at which the heartworms can damage the heart and lungs.

Leo

The cost for heartworm prevention is just roughly $8 per month but the cost for treatment of an infected dog is about $1,200.

Because of the seriousness of heartworms, RAGOM requires that dogs take heartworm preventatives and have an annual heartworm test. RAGOM requires adopted dogs to be on heartworm prevention as prescribed by their veterinarian.  Heartworm tests are a blood draw and will not interfere with any type of medical treatment a dog is getting.

Common myths we hear on why someone’s dog is not getting preventatives:

The best and only way to protect your dog against heartworm disease is with a heartworm preventative and annual heartworm testing. Do the kind thing for your dog; make sure they receive preventative heartworm care!

Volunteering for RAGOM

When you volunteer for an organization whose mission is to rescue, foster, and find forever homes for Golden Retrievers and Golden mixes in need, you’re bound to embark on an emotional journey or two. From serving as the first point of contact for a family surrendering their Golden, to fostering dogs with seemingly insurmountable trauma, RAGOM volunteers are no strangers to the joy and sorrow that come with helping Goldens find their forever home. Let’s take a closer look at the emotional journeys of some of our RAGOM volunteers.

Mary, hotline volunteer

Mary, hotline volunteer
Mary, a RAGOM volunteer since 2012, does transport, home visits, foster care (22 so far!), mentoring and hotline. Of her many roles, she says foster care and hotline are her favorites.

Hotline is the first point of contact for those looking to surrender their dogs. The hotline volunteer talks to the surrendering owner to get as many details as possible about the dog and reason for surrender. The hotline volunteer then passes that information to the intake team to find a foster and arrange for the dog’s surrender.

Mary began volunteering in hotline after her dog passed away and the emotional toll it took was immediate.

“On my second or third day, I called Kathy and said, ‘I can’t do this,’” said Mary. “Kathy said, ‘Yes you can.’ And I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Mary says that hotline volunteers do a lot of listening. Surrendering owners who call in are usually very distressed—sometimes angry but mostly just really, really sad and in need of consoling. Mary leaves the judgement at the door.

“Many times, the surrendering owner doesn’t want to have to give up the dog, but finances, a medical condition or losing a home leave the owner no choice,” said Mary.

Occasionally hotline volunteers get calls from people whose dog is clearly living in a bad situation. In those cases, RAGOM works feverishly to get the dog out of its current environment immediately, even if it means boarding it while they look for a foster.

“You hear a lot of sad stories,” said Mary. “Some nights you don’t sleep very well. You have to be the advocate and the mouthpiece for the dog until the foster takes over.”

Hotline volunteers document their conversations with surrendering owners, but Mary says sometimes the story she captures on the intake form is only a small part of what she hears.

When asked if hotline took an emotional toll on her, she said, “In the beginning, you cry a lot. As time passes, it’s all about the dog. You need to put the emotion on a different plate, and the plate in front of me is ‘I have to get the dog into RAGOM’s care.’”

Laurie, lead transport coordinator
After hotline captures the information about the dog being surrendered, the intake team sends out a daily plea requesting foster volunteers. The dog’s disposition, needs and previous living environment are all taken into consideration when determining a suitable foster home. After intake finds the right foster home, they pass all the information—about the dog and the surrendering and foster homes—to a transport coordinator like Laurie.

Laurie has volunteered for RAGOM since 2009. She began as a foster and transport volunteer and is now a temporary foster and the lead transport coordinator. Her job is to arrange for the dog to get from its surrendering home to its foster home.

Her most memorable volunteer experience was about two years ago, when RAGOM received a call about 13 Oklahoma dogs needing a home. Their surrendering owner, who loved them very much and gave them all a good life, had to go into a nursing home.

The rescue organization in Oklahoma drove all 13 dogs to Minnesota in a van. Laurie and a group of RAGOM volunteers met them in a Walmart parking lot, but because of bad weather, seven of the planned foster volunteers couldn’t make it to pick up their dogs. So Laurie ended up taking all seven dogs home with her that evening.

“It was crazy but wonderful,” said Laurie. “It was freezing cold, but the dogs were amazing and handled the transport so well.”

The next day, the dogs went to each of their foster homes. But as soon as the dogs got to their foster homes, they shut down because they were missing their pack. So, over the next month, Laurie took four of the dogs back until they became settled enough that they could successfully separate from each other.

“I cried for every goodbye,” said Laurie.

After Laurie (or one of the other four transport coordinators) receives details about the surrendering dog, she reaches out to transport volunteers—like husband-and-wife team Lloyd and Jeri—to coordinate the various legs of the drive from the surrendering home to the foster home.

RAGOM volunteers since 2011, Lloyd and Jeri have volunteered in hotline, transport, home visits, screening and foster care. They enjoy transport the most because they get to meet a lot of different dogs and spend time together on the road.

Lloyd and Jeri say that when they first pick up a dog to transport, the dog is stressed. But they’ve found that Goldens have an exceptional ability to maintain joy in the face of trauma (Lloyd and Jeri also volunteer to do transport for other rescue organizations). Case in point: The dogs rescued from Turkey spent 24 hours in a crate and still came out happy with their tails wagging.

The first leg of the trip can be the most challenging, especially when the owners are devastated about surrendering their dogs because of unavoidable hardships. Lloyd and Jeri say it’s certainly an emotional experience but ultimately one that is rewarding.

“When it’s hard, the good thing is you know the dog is going to a good home in the end,” said Lloyd. “They’ll be medically taken care of, then have a good foster home and a good forever home, where they’ll be loved and cared for.”

Karen, foster volunteer
Karen, a RAGOM volunteer since 2005, is one such foster volunteer who receives the dogs Lloyd and Jeri transport. In addition to fostering, Karen is also a RAGOM volunteer vet coordinator and member of the behavioral services team.

Karen’s first RAGOM foster pup in 2005 was a Hurricane Katrina dog. Since then, she estimates she’s fostered anywhere from 30–50 dogs.

When asked how she would describe the emotional aspect of fostering, Karen said, “When I foster a dog, I know the first few weeks can be pretty tough. But when I see the dog start making progress, it is totally worth it.”

Karen also serves as support for struggling new fosters. “I tell them that when fostering a dog, I almost always feel overwhelmed and teary at some point during the first week,” said Karen. “They are relieved to hear that it’s hard for all of us—they assume it’s just them, or that particular dog.”

All dogs who come into RAGOM’s foster care have just had their entire life turned upside down. It’s no surprise, then, that the most rewarding aspect of fostering is when, after the first few weeks, the dog starts to flourish. By the time the dog is adopted out to its forever family, Karen says foster volunteers almost certainly cry again—but this time tears of joy because they love the foster dog so much and know they have given that dog a new chance at a happy life.

“This is why we do it again and again,” said Karen. “It’s so gratifying!”

If you’d like to join our mighty village of more than 300 RAGOM volunteers, please check out our volunteer openings.

Would you consider adopting a senior dog?

While our young dogs have an overwhelming amount of applicants, it’s our senior dogs that can be continuously overlooked.

For example, our mini-Doodle puppy, Sage, had over 15 applicants in about 12 hours and DouDou, a one year old Golden Retriever, had 14 applicants in less than 12 hours. There were so many wonderful people who wanted to make Sage and DouDou a part of their families, but unfortunately only one family can be chosen, even though so many more families are deserving. It’s very disappointing not to be chosen and that’s a feeling our senior dogs experience too.

Would your family consider adopting a senior dog? In 2019, Ragom had 28 senior dogs (age eight and older) in our care and so far in 2020, we have had 15 seniors in our care. While puppies are wonderful in so many ways, the same can be said for senior dogs. Senior dogs have so much love to give. Seniors require less activity than younger dogs, are house trained, are calmer (and love to lay on the couch and snuggle or sleep) and are so grateful to be a part of the family.

See below for a few of our wonderful senior dogs that are available for adoption. Could your home be their forever home?

Bentley
Princess
Buck

Princess and Buck (Bonded Pair)
Princess – https://ragom.org/dogs/princess-20-188/
Buck – https://ragom.org/dogs/buck-20-187/

 

RAGOM Goldendoodle training after adoption
KC (Casey)
Casey