- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
On the third Saturday of each month, the Turkey Hill Dog Park in La Plata is a sea of gold — a slobbery, fur shedding, affection-seeking gold — when the dogs of the Golden Retriever Rescue of Southern Maryland take over for a while.
Founded in 2007 by Pat Johnson of Great Mills, the group is gaining members in Calvert and Charles counties and the dog park days — the first Saturday at John G. Lancaster Park in Lexington Park and the last Saturday of the month at Grays Road Dog Park in Prince Frederick — offer members, foster families and dogs a chance to get together. The outings also serve as an informal meet-and-greet for potential adopters or fosters.
“We don’t have a shelter,” said Pam Lowery of La Plata, of the rescue group. “We work out of people’s homes; every penny goes to the dogs.”
And the rescue group also pays for all expenses for the dogs, allowing foster families to take in dogs at no personal expense. The rescue pays for everything from medical care to food.
Foster families just need to provide a safe and loving home to dogs that are up for adoption — dogs that are rescued from puppy mills, hoarding situations, given up by owners or abandoned.
Some wind up fostering after realizing they could do more good that way.
After Lowery’s golden, Holly, died, Lowery was hoping to rescue and adopt another.
She got in touch with the local rescue group and soon began fostering instead.
“The rest is history,” Lowery said.
After Adam and Mariel Connell of Lexington Park adopted their black Labrador, they headed for the dog park only to turn the corner and land in the gold.
“My husband was interested in fostering,” Mariel Connell said. They are on their third golden since November. The first two — Bailey and Moose — have been adopted. Now, they are caring for Roxy.
“It’s hard,” Connell said about having nursed dogs through illnesses, having them become a member of the family, only to have them leave a few weeks later because a permanent home has been found. But “if we kept one, we wouldn’t be able to foster anymore.”
“You have to give up one to save another,” Bob Davis said. “And you know they are going to a good home.”
Lowery added, “The first one is the hardest. ... It’s for the greater good.”
And goldens are nothing if not social, adaptable and quick to make friends and become a member of a family.
“They are friendly, they love everybody, very loyal and laid-back,” said Davis, a member of the rescue group’s board of directors.
So far this year, the group has rescued 26 goldens and is taking on more. The dogs are taken in from shelters in the South that have a PTS policy — Put To Sleep, Davis said. Davis’s wife, Barb, and other members comb Facebook and Craigslist and scoop up any goldens and golden retriever mix dogs listed for adoption.
“That’s scary,” Barb Davis said of seeing listings for free dogs. Who knows what fate they’ll meet? Nope, Barb Davis said, the rescue group will take them and find them a good home.
Once the dogs are with the group, they are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, get medical treatment and in some cases, learn how to be a dog.
One of the Davises’ pets, Foster, was rescued from an animal hoarder. Foster was living with his brother in a horse stall and wasn’t used to being around other dogs. Dog park outings and being around the Davises’ other pets helped Foster socialize.
“They bounce back,” Bob Davis said. “They are happy dogs. We get them healthy not just physically but emotionally.”
Sandy, a golden mix, is another success story. She was rescued from South Carolina and Lowery nursed her through heartworms. She was recently adopted.
Holly was found in a churchyard in North Carolina. Barb Davis was visiting her son down that way when she said she got a call about the golden that had been found and was scheduled to be euthanized the day the Davises took her back to Maryland.
Golden retrievers are one of the most popular breeds in the country, according to American Kennel Club statistics.
At the park during June’s get-together, anyone who sat down was immediately swarmed with dogs. Eric Viars of La Plata was kept busy petting two dogs, while another stood in his lap, content just to be close to someone. He should be used to it, he and his wife, Lisa, foster.
Madison Taylor, 12, and her brother, Austin, 10, of La Plata, huddled with another group of dogs.
The kids came to the dog park with their aunt, Debbie Dofflemyer. Her mother, the late Betty Davis, got the family involved in the rescue group. And her legacy might be that the family continues to be a part of the group — that and a new rescue dog will be named after Betty Davis.
Madison thinks fostering and adopting a golden retriever is a no-brainer.
“They are sweet and adorable,” she said. “They should all have a good home.”
Stay gold@$:To learn more about the Golden Retriever Rescue of Southern Maryland or how to adopt or foster a dog, go to www.goldenretrieverrescueofsouthernmaryland.org or call 855-477-3728. Donations may be mailed to Golden Retriever Rescue of Southern Maryland, P.O. Box 6, Great Mills, MD 20634.
The group will hold a fundraiser Sept. 8 at Regency Furniture Stadium, 11765 St. Linus Drive, Waldorf. The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs will donate half of the $13 ticket price to the rescue group, and dogs will be welcome at the park for the game. To buy tickets, go to www.somdbluecrabs.com. The group is also putting together its 2013 calendar and is looking for sponsors who would like to advertise in it. For more information, call Barb Davis at 301-475-7022.