Golden Retriever Therapy Dog Stormy

Trust me, you do not want to miss this special guy’s story.
Just go to:


Meet Golden Boston … Retired Guide Dog to Therapy Dog

Bob Armstrong brings his old Golden Retriever Boston (his wife Debee’s retired Guide Dog) to the Kaiser Permanente hospital in Santa Clara, CA. Debee has a new Golden Guide Dog, but happily trains her Goldens so that when she needs to retire them from the work-intensive job as a Guide Dog, they can be transitioned into being just a loving member of the family as well as doing therapy dog visitation work.

Learn more about Boston’s Guide Dog days here.

So sad for Animal-Assisted Activities to be effected this way

Pet Therapy Dogs May Carry MRSA And Clostridium Difficile Between Patients

ScienceDaily (May 8, 2009) —  University of Guelph in Canada researchers investigated whether MRSA and C.difficile could be passed between pet therapy dogs and patients. The findings suggested that MRSA and C. difficile may have been transferred to the fur and paws of these canine visitors through patients handling or kissing the dogs, or through exposure to a contaminated healthcare environment.

This study was conducted amongst 26 pet therapy dog-handler teams between June – August 2007. Twelve teams visited acute care facilities and 14 visited long-term care facilities. Prior to each visit, the dog’s forepaws and their handlers’ hands were tested for MRSA, vancomycin-resistant enterococci and C.difficile. In addition, the investigator sanitized her hands, handled each dog, and then tested her hands for the same pathogens. Testing was repeated on departure from the facility. The dog-handler teams were observed at all times during the visits and all interactions with patients and staff were closely monitored.

None of the tested pathogens were found on the hands of the investigator or the handlers or the paws of the pet-therapy dogs prior to these visits. However, after visiting an acute care facility, one dog was found to have C.difficile on its paws. When the investigator’s hands were tested after handling another dog that had just visited a long-term care facility, MRSA was detected, suggesting the dog had acquired MRSA on its fur. The dog that acquired C.difficile had politely shaken paws with many of the patients. The dog found to have acquired MRSA on its fur, had been allowed onto patient’s beds and was seen to be repeatedly kissed by two patients.

Finding MRSA on the hands of the investigator who petted a dog after its visit to the long-term facility suggests that dogs that have picked up these pathogens can transfer them back to people. Even transient contamination presents a new avenue for transmission, not only for the pathogens evaluated in the study, but potentially for others such as influenza and norovirus.

The authors conclude that in order to contain the transmission of pathogens through contact with pet therapy animals, all patients and handlers should follow recommended hand sanitation procedures; as for the dogs, perhaps it’s time they learn how to clean themselves after contact with humans!

“We are here to make you smile”

Therapy Golden Maggie

Therapy Golden Retriever Maggie Kewley

Mike Kewley, my pal from Shrewsbury Paws, just sent this glorious photo of his Maggie with the following message: “I hope this puts a smile on your face.”

Maggie, who turned 12 in February, has been joined by Golden Retriever Sadie. Mike says Sadie stays close to Maggie all the time. Maggie is hanging in there but has gotten a little stubborn in her old age, showing more of that selective hearing. You know how that works. As soon as Mike mentions sometime about going for a ride or getting cookies, her hearing ability amazingly returns.

Golden Girls Maggie and Sadie

Golden Girls Maggie and Sadie

Mike also shared this Feb 27, 2009 article — “Thinking about Maggie the Therapy Dog, on her Birthday” — that he had written to celebrate and reflect on the occasion.

I wanted to spend some time today to talk about Maggie, my golden retriever, and her pet therapy work with seniors in nursing and rehabilitation centers, as well as her work with kids with cancer, rape and suicide victims. The times we spend with families is to help them to find a way to deal with the pain and the unknown. We spend time with seniors in nursing homes who have no family, or those with the Alzheimer’s disease that took their memory and their life away from them. And also with adults from twenty to fifty that had severe trauma accidents that left them with no motor skills and had to be on ventilators to survive.

After going through a divorce in 2004 after 30 years, this was one of the most painful times in my life. In November, I started Shrewsbury Paws with Maggie to help me deal with the pain inside and reversed it by helping others. If we could make one person smile it was all worth it. She was my support staff and was there for me when I needed her.

She was certified with Therapy Dogs International and also had her AKC Good Canine certificate. This was a series of tests, twenty to thirty that had to be performed flawlessly.

The first year together doing therapy work we visited 3,500 residents and 350 kids in one of the local hospital. There was one special boy with cancer who was in the Pedi ICU unit for a year we visited. Maggie became a celebrity in the Boston and Worcester area, from the local television stations and newspapers. Her work has touched the hearts of so many people.

In August of 2006, Maggie was diagnosed with mast cell cancer stage III. A tumor the size of a golf ball was located deep in her muzzle. After visiting and experiencing families and their loved ones with cancer, we were going to experience what they were going through together. The percentage of her beating this was small and it was going to be a tough regimen of heavy drugs, chemo and radiation. Not to mention the cost of medical expenses that would be there from all of the treatments. This was an emotional roller coaster ride.

In October of 2006 we made a decision to stop the chemo treatments because her body was shutting down and the outcome and percentages of her making it were fading. I received emails from people expressing their support and prayers for her. It was a time in my life that would make the strongest man drop to his knees and cry. It was day by day and in time we started hanging on to the good days and tried not to think too much beyond that. Taking each day like it was going to be your last and we made. It is now just over two years and there have been no signs of the tumor coming back. Someone gave her a second chance at life.

This past year she started having problems with her hips which resulted in having to carry her up and down stairs and she is having a hard time seeing out of one eye. At eighty pounds, she does challenge me at times. Now I spend my time taking care and enjoying my time with her.

Maggie is celebrating her birthday today. At twelve, she has been my companion and has filled my family with love and happiness from the first day we brought her home. I am truly blessed to have her and I’m glad I had the opportunity to share the love I have with her with everyone.

Check out more of Maggie’s story and her successful battle with cancer here.

Tears to my eyes

I have come to make many special Golden Retriever friends during my many years on the web, but Chandler Rudd is clearly one who has a unique place in my heart. We came to meet due to his lovely wondergirl, Lucy, who so many people loved and now miss.

Chandler is a very gifted man, who can express the truly important things in life with a clarity that can be breathtaking. I am simply thrilled for him that he will be continuing Lucy’s Legacy.

But, knowing how much the loss of Lucy has affected hi life, I am even more touched by his moving on with his newest Golden addition to the family. There is now a wonderful boy named Luke and Luke has already begun to make a name for himself in the Assisted Animal Therapy world.

I have just added Luke to the site, to also celebrate his new official therapy dog status. Luke is definitely following in the pawprints of Lucy. Read below to experience a story like none other of Luke’s first official therapy dog visit.

A couple of weeks ago, Luke finally received his registration from Therapy Dogs Inc. Things have been hectic here so we haven’t had a chance to pay a visit to Exeter Healthcare….until yesterday [April 28, 2008].

It was a rainy, dreary day. Just perfect for a visit to our favorite rehab center. A thorough brushing to remove any excess fur, and a change of clothes for me and we were off. Luke was excited to go for a ride and when he saw where we were going, he became more animated. We have been here many times before so Luke could work with the staff getting him used to all the things he will encounter during his real visits. Wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, and, oh yes, the inevitable lunch cart were taken by him until they were no big deal. Now, we would put all this work to the test.

Luke and I walked into the facility and were greeted enthusiastically by the staff. Most of the people were old friends and knew Lucy and Ben. They were so happy to see me back with Luke and gave us the royal welcome. We started with the short term rooms where I could get Luke used to visiting people who could interact with him. To my delight, he warmed to the task and delighted everyone he met. He proved to be a “leaner”, resting his body, gently against the patients so they had no choice but to pat him. I watched him very carefully, looking for traits that I would need to work out and others that I would need to encourage. Amazingly, there was not one negative trait that needed correcting. I did see, however, a few I need to encourage. Eye contact, and head resting are my priorities for now.

I felt comfortable enough to take him to the “Vent” wing where people who are paralyzed live. This is a long term care facility and some of these patients have been here for 10 years. I just cannot imagine having to live a life, in a bed, without the ability to move one muscle from your head down. The depression must be enormous. Imagine, then, (assuming you like dogs) the joy of a visit with a beautiful, friendly, golden retriever and an understanding human.

My first patient was “Doug”. Doug has been here for as long as I’ve been visiting. He’s about my age, thin, bald, but with expressive eyes complete with crows feet. How does a guy who has been paralyzed for at least 10 years have crows feet? Doug smiles! He cannot talk but will mouth his words and compliment them with his eyes. Believe it or not, communicating with him is easier than you think. It’s amazing how clear he is when his mouthing a greeting and his eyes are crinkled in a smile. He has seen Luke before but we have not made any physical contact.

I walked into his room and said “Hi Doug! We’re official now!”

His eyes crinkled and he mouthed “Congratulations!”

“How’s he doing?” I read from his lips.

“So far, so good!” I replied.

I explained that because he was so new to this, I wanted to let him look around the room and get used to the equipment that kept Doug alive. I showed Luke the ventilator that was making a rhythmic, wheezing sound followed by a click and the exhaust of air. Next we saw the catheters and electrical cables that carried the waste from Doug and kept him monitored by the nurses station. Luke took all this with aplomb. Finally, I brought him to Doug’s side and told Doug what I wanted to do.

When Lucy was alive, I would lift her out of her stroller and place her in the bed with Doug. She would make her way to his head where she would give him kisses. Because of Doug’s paralysis, he has no feeling anywhere on his body with the exception of his head. Lucy seemed to know this and Doug absolutely loved it!

I told Doug that I was going to place Luke’s big paws on the side of his bed, next to his head so Luke will understand that this is where he needs to go to make meaningful contact with Doug. He crinkled his eyes and mouthed “OK!”

I told Luke “UP!” and “Easy!” and lifted his paws and placed them on the side of the bed. I covered his paws with my hands in case he reached out. Doug can’t move out of the way and Luke’s claws, although short, could do some damage.

Doug looked at Luke, moving just his eyes, and mouthed “Hi Luke!”

Luke then amazed me by slowly leaning forward until his nose was almost touching Doug. Carefully, gently, he began to lick Doug’s face.

Doug opened his mouth wide in a laugh. His body shook as he laughed. He pursed his lips and made squeaking sounds (Like you were calling a cat) and all the while Luke kept licking. All this took only seconds but for me, time had slowed down to a crawl. Luke finally stopped and pulled away. Doug stopped laughing but the smile remained.

“Good boy!” he mouthed. Then to me, “Thank you!”

“You’re welcome, Doug” I said. “I am so happy that Luke seems to know what he’s doing. I think Lucy’s there beside him, guiding him and encouraging him.”

Doug replied “I think so too.”

Not wanting to stress Luke out, I told Doug that I would be back next week. He thanked me and as we made our way out of his room, Luke looked back at Doug. I could see that he liked the visit and was sad to go.

We had been at the rehab for almost an hour and I decided to call it a day. Luke was beginning to pant. It might have been the heat but he may have reached his limit for the day. We said goodbye to everyone and walked out into the rain.

“Not bad” I thought to myself. “Not bad at all!”

I Love Lucy

A Seven Week old Baby LucyWe have a very special page at our Foundation’s site to honor Therapy Golden Retriever Lucy. It is called, of course, I Love Lucy. Lucy’s special story is everything about what rescue is about, as they faithfully work on to mend the wrongs in our often throw-away type society.

During the week of February 15, 1997, a puppy was found in the North End of Middletown, Connecticut. Two reports were given. One was that the pup was found dumped on a doorstep, in a basket. The other was that she was found in a dumpster. That pup was Lucy, then named Precious.

She was taken to Pieper-Olson Vet Clinic, in Middletown, where it was then learned that she was paralyzed from the waist down. Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue (YGRR) was called and she was admitted into their program. She was transported from there to Yankee’s Vet Clinic, Fremont Animal Hospital, in Fremont, New Hampshire, where more tests were done. Soon after that, Precious was brought to Tufts Vet Hospital for more extensive tests and it was determined that she suffered from a neurological injury, either as a birth defect, or possibly from being dropped soon after birth, although no evidence was found to support that theory. Their recommendation was to euthanize her. YGRR refused and brought her back to Fremont.

If you do not know Lucy’s story, please visit her very special page of honor. There are many wonderful stories, photos, and video clips to enjoy. Here are her parents’ (Chandler and Dee Rudd) words about taking Lucy into their family:

Our daughter, Susan, had been telling us about a handicapped Golden at Fremont Animal Hospital for months. She now came home and asked us if we could help this little dog out by taking her into our house. We were to try to housebreak her and socialize her with our two Goldens, Maggie and Bennie. She explained that this was perhaps the last chance for this dog to become adoptable. We really didn’t want a third dog, but Susan said that it would only be temporary. When Lucy became housebroken, she would go back to Riverview and hopefully get adopted. I decided that I wouldn’t become attached to Lucy. I considered her a work in progress …. a job, so to speak.

We had our work cut out for us that first night. Lucy was a sweetheart, but, oh my! The mess! We began by putting her on a schedule. Just like a puppy, she would go out to ‘potty’ right after every meal, as soon as she woke up, and right before bedtime. We praised her after each successful ‘outing’ and after a few days, she was almost perfect. Sure there were some mistakes, but we could see that Lucy was sorry.

One night, Lucy was sleeping on the couch. I looked over at her and watched as she dreamed. Her eyes, although closed, moved as she watched something in her dream world. Her legs moved rhythmically as she chased it. I wondered if she was still handicapped in her dreams, or if she could run as she had never done. I moved closer to her, studying her face, looking at the perfection in her features. Wondering why something so beautiful, so innocent, could be so imperfect. As I drew even closer, Lucy must have sensed my presence. Her eyes opened a little, and when she saw me so near, they opened wide in surprise. Then something happened that changed everything. She recognized me. Her eyes softened, and she leaned closer to me and gently licked my face. This one act went straight to my heart. I knew then that I was totally in love with this little girl. I also knew that we would never part. All our plans for her were now in our hands. She had found her ‘forever home’.

We had originally envisioned Lucy being adopted by a Physical Therapist. Someone who could use her disability along with her wonderful personality to help handicapped children overcome the obstacles in their journey towards rehabilitation. Dee and I felt that Lucy was put on this earth for a purpose. She had come a long way and fought incredible odds just to get this far. Now we had a new job. We wanted to, eventually, use Lucy to help others. It took almost one year. We worked with Lucy, socializing her with other dogs, working her with people, especially children. She loved children! We worked with a local Rehabilitation Hospital, and Lucy became certified as a Therapy Dog to work in that hospital. Later this year, she was also certified by Therapy Dogs International to work in any hospital or nursing home in this country or Canada.

In April 2008, The Goldstock Fund announced the addition of a new fund, LUCY’S LEGACY. During life, Lucy’s courage, determination and unconditional love constantly amazed and inspired everyone she met. All ages, all nationalities, challenged and able-bodied—she touched thousands of lives both physically and emotionally. Lucy was an active therapy dog, and a shining example of the positive life force that can be found in all dogs. Click below to see her on the job, as shown on NHPTV’s Outlook Program on August 6, 2001.

Lucy’s Legacy Fund, actually developed from an idea by YGRR founder Joan Puglia to honor Lucy, will provide therapy dog training as well as activities to enhance the bond between people and their dogs. Proceeds from activities will be given via grants to Golden Retriever rescue programs.

Partnering with other groups that improve our dogs’ quality of life, Lucy’s Legacy will be featuring educational and social activities that explore the health, emotions, and behavior of canine companions. One such program, CAMP LUCY, is providing guided workshops for developing each dog’s emotional and physical potential—so offering relaxation, recreation and social events for people and their canine companions.

The first annual CAMP LUCY, hosted by Camp Robin Hood, will be held September 12-14, 2008 on Ossipee Lake in beautiful Ossipee, New Hampshire. There you can strengthen the bond with your dog in the quiet tranquility of the White Mountains. All meals will be provided by the camp and prepared by their gourmet chef. Snacks and vegetarian selections will also be available. Lodging in the camp cabins is included in the $200 price. Although lodging is shared, the cabins are large and offer plenty of room for you and your dogs. Check out the wonderful activities and workshops, your ability to participate in as many or as few as you choose. Or, if you wish, you can simply enjoy the weekend relaxing with your dog. The camp has a beautiful sandy beach, large fields and miles of hiking trails. For more info, email Chandler Rudd at

  • First aid and accident prevention
  • Introduction to tracking
  • Flower essence workshops
  • Trick training
  • Introduction to land and water retrieving
  • Daily guided nature walks (on leash)
  • Canine Good Citizenship preparation and test
  • Movies
  • Beach campfires
  • Candlelight ceremony
  • Special senior (and almost senior) seminar: Developing and implementing a comprehensive, holistic, home enrichment program for your senior.