Going above and beyond does not adequately describe her story. Persistent—yes, but she is so much more. Retrieve a Golden of the Midwest (RAGOM) has a dedicated, determined volunteer who has given countless, selfless hours to rescue a sky-high number of goldens and other dogs to provide them with a second chance at life.
Denise is a phenomenon in the rescue world. If you go online to RAGOM’s Facebook, you will read many times, “Denise is on the road again. The rescue angel rides again.” Denise’s rescues take up almost all the hours in the day and end many times in the wee hours of the night.
Sometimes it is one dog rescue, and sometimes a rented cargo van is needed to bring dogs of all shapes and sizes to their fosters. And the wonder of her work is not that these rescues happen a couple of times a year, Denise’s rescues happen multiple times a month. Denise can’t rescue enough. She lives the mission of RAGOM every day. And we can’t thank her enough.
Denise started volunteering ten years ago when she lost her heart to her rescue, Lwood. She wanted others to experience this wonderful feeling of connection to a rescue dog. She turned to RAGOM when she heard about the charity from news reports of saving Annie, a dog who had been shot and found in a ditch, and RAGOM cared for her.
“I remembered that story and thought RAGOM was a good organization that knew what they were doing and seemed to have the best interests of not only the dogs but also the humans,” Denise said.
“My devotion to this work comes from many rescues. Perhaps it was one of my first fosters, Tanner, an ex-breeder dog from Iowa who was heartworm positive and had severe separation anxiety, or the litter of eight four-week-old puppies that broke out with parvo a day after they arrived at my house, resulting in more heartache than I thought I could bear as we lost three out of the eight,” Denise recalls.
Denise now has her girl Willow who came in with 28 other goldens from an auction in March of 2012. “This group of rescues was by far the most damaged group of dogs I had ever seen, but to see Willow now gives me the strength and ability to travel miles and miles in the middle of nowhere to pick up dogs that would never have had a chance if not for rescue,” Denise said.
While many RAGOM dogs come from loving homes—that due to unforeseen circumstances— must surrender their golden. Other rescues do involve goldens who have been homeless, neglected, or abused that require extensive, costly medical care or behavioral rehabilitation.
As a result, RAGOM recruits volunteers for all types of rescues and rehabilitation.
Many years have passed without recognizing Denise’s unwavering commitment to saving and finding loving, forever homes for her rescues. But anyone who knows Denise understands that recognition is not her need. Her selfless and understated volunteer work reflects just who she is.
If you ask Denise why she volunteers, she says, “I want them all to have a chance to live their best lives ever!”