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Meet Little Max

Max is brand new to the rescue and already has a couple of previous adopters interested in adding this little cutie to their families.

March 23, 2019   No Comments

The Face of Taurine Deficient Cardiomyopathy

This is the face of cardiomyopathy. My Menia.

Dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs is a condition which causes enlargement of the chambers of the heart. Dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM, is very common, and is one of the primary causes of congestive heart failure in dogs.

DCM can kill your dog.

Menia came to us from China last year. We know she did not have a good diet, but I feed my five goldens well and thought she’d be fine after a few months of good food.

During the summer we called her the “Vampire dog” as she always looked for shade to take a rest on our walks. During the fall and winter, we only noticed this behavior on long walks.
I expressed concerns to my vet and asked for a referral to a canine cardiologist. My vet was resistant. He said Menia’s heart rate was low normal. He said he did not hear a murmur. He did an EKG and it was normal.

The next day on a walk she laid down. She is the youngest dog in my pack. I knew this wasn’t normal, so I made an appointment with a canine cardiologist.
The cardiologist listened to Menia’s heart and immediately heard a low level murmur. He did an echocardiogram and saw that while her heart is not enlarged or dilated, one chamber pumps more slowly than the rest. He did a thyroid test and a taurine test. Her thyroid is fine. Her taurine level is 208. Normal for some dogs, but NOT for golden retrievers. Normal for goldens is 250.

Menia is now taking taurine to strengthen her heart. We are adding a Purina kibble to her diet, and she will have another echocardiogram in six months.
While Menia did not have many symptoms of DCM such as:
• Breathing difficulties.
• Excessive agitation.
• Arrhythmia: Abnormal heartbeat.
• Heart murmurs.
• Coughing.
• Exercise intolerance.

I knew her walking behavior was not normal. Without intervention her heart would likely enlarge and she would have more symptoms and perhaps even die.

I’m still waiting to see if my insurance will cover this as I went to the cardiologist without a referral from my local vet. (Healthy Paws said I needed a referral.) The cost with all of the tests was $1,000, but knowing my pup will most likely be just fine because of my determination is priceless. Update: Insurance did pay.

If you are feeding a grain free diet now, I strongly encourage you to change foods. Grain free foods replace grains with legumes, peas, lentils, all types of potatoes. Canine cardiologists researchers are trying to figure out how these replacement ingredients are impacting taurine production in dogs and why goldens are more susceptible than breeds.

The best source of information I have found is a Facebook group called Taurine Deficiency in Golden Retrievers. One of the moderators is Dr. Stern, who recently published an interim report on his research on this topic. You can also review a list of foods being fed to goldens and what their taurine test and echocardiogram test results were.

~ Pat Johnson
Foster & Adoption Coordinator

March 22, 2019   No Comments

Mikey is Ready for his Furever Family

NOTE: Please do not apply if you do not have a physically fenced yard, a young canine playmate and someone home much of the day.

Mikey is a lively approximately one year old male who traveled from China to Maryland three weeks ago.

He loves to play and is usually carrying a ball, kong or other small toy in his mouth. Mikey is on the small side weighing 51Lbs, but he’s still growing.

He’s a spunky guy, yet loves to cuddle and wants to be the first one to get all treats. He is a very happy pup and loves to be around his humans and canine friends.

He wants to please and has learned a lot in the 3 weeks he has been with his foster family.

He plays well with his foster family’s older Golden retriever. He is curious about their cat but has shown no aggression towards her just curiosity.

Mikey has had no interaction with small children since coming to the US. He is a joy to have. He will need a fenced in yard and a canine playmate to help him learn the ropes.

He is house trained. He does not ask to go out he will follows his canine sibling out.

He gets very excited at meal time after spending months of never having enough food in China, His foster family puts him outside while they make meals as he gets so excited for his food he sometimes submissively urinates.

Mikey will jump into the car and he rides very quietly, but he will not get out when you reach your destination. He needs more positive car rides. Trips to the dog park, to get some chicken nuggets or a doggie sundae will help change his perspective as he does not get car sick.

Mikey is healthy, neutered and vaccinated. He had two small wart like bumps surgically removed. Both were benign.

Our little guy is blossoming in his new life and will continue to do so with a forever family who will introduce him to the USA with a dog training class, frequent walks, trips to the beach, etc.


Mikey is available now. His adoption fee is $400 + an additional $200 to help defray a small fraction of the cost of his trip from China.

More information about adopting from is available in the Adoption Guide posted in the Adopt A Golden Tab.

We do home visits so families interested in adopting much live in our service delivery area. If you do not, google “national golden retriever rescue” to find the golden rescue group that serves your area.

March 20, 2019   No Comments

Congratulations to Sierra

From Sierra’s foster mom, “After posting Sierra for adoption I was really struggling with the thought of letting her go. She has become part of our family and knew we would miss her too much when she left our home. After many nights of snuggles, tears, and debate, Evan and I decided the only option was for us to keep her. I think our pup Murphy is happy with the decision as well. Welcome to the family Sierra!! An unexpected blessing for sure.”

Sierra was Brynn’s and her husband, Kelly first foster pup.

Some things are just meant to be!

Congrats to all!

March 19, 2019   No Comments

Argh!!!! I Bought a Bag of Purina Kibble

If you read the rescue’s newsletter that came out today, you’d know that one of my pups has taurine deficient cardiomyopathy, a heart disease that can be fatal. It appears to be somehow caused by grain free dog food whose formulations have not been tested on actual dogs.

The first ingredient in this food is turkey. Next is cornmeal and then a bunch of stuff I have no idea.

I fed my very first goldens Purina dog food, but that is because there weren’t many other choices.

Canine Cardiologist don’t really know what is causing heart problems, ESPECIALLY IN GOLDEN RETRIEVERS. They do know dogs diagnosed with Taurine Deficient Cardiomyopathy who switch to a well researched food meeting Whole World Small Animal Veterinary Association standards can be cured of Dilated Cardiomyopathy. Currently there are only five companies that meet WWSAVA standards- Hills Science Diet, Iams, Purina, Royal Canine and Eukanuba.

Even foods from these companies that contain peas, legumes and any type of potatoes should be avoided. There are some foods that do not test and have not had any reports of DCM, such as Farmina Ancestral Grains, but since they don’t test, cardiologists are hesitant to recommend.

So I have one dog who can’t eat fish based protein and one who cannot eat beef or chicken (chicken and fish are most often used in dog food as it’s less expensive), so after spending weeks researching and sampling small bags of food, we are trying this Purina turkey based protein kibble. Of course, I’m still adding lean meat, yogurt, canned pumpkin, eggs, seasonal fruits and veggies as I continue to have a hard time believing that a food filled with ingredients I cannot pronounce is better than what our earth provides.

But until research is complete and we learn why goldens are dying from the food they eat, I’ll buy Purina.

March 19, 2019   1 Comment

March 18, 2019   No Comments

Please Send Prayers to Libby

Libby has a mass on her spleen and is having her spleen removed today. Please keep her in your thought and prayers.

March 18, 2019   No Comments

Congratulations to Daisy

Riley wants everyone to meet his new little sister! That’s right, after 9 years of fostering many great dogs we have become foster failures. We couldn’t say no to this little sweetie. Daisy will now be known as Meili (May-lee) which means beautiful in Chinese.

March 17, 2019   No Comments

March 17, 2019   No Comments

Sierra is Ready for her Furever Family

Sierra is a sweet puppy ready for a family to love her unconditionally. She used to live with a more senior couple who wanted Sierra to be with a family that could give her the attention and love she needed. In the past few weeks she has learned how to be a very playful pup! She plays and loves very hard and she enjoys being with playmates.

Age: 7 months

Weight: 52 lbs

Health: Sierra is in great health and comes with all her vet records from when she was 10 weeks old to 6.5 months. She has had all vaccines, including Bordetella, Rabies, Lyme, and DAHPP. She had an ear infection in February but it was treated. She is heartworm negative and is microchipped.
She is heartworm negative and is microchipped.

Personality: Sierra is a very sweet pup. Her original owners said she was opinionated and lively, but since she has had a playmate, she keeps occupied and is a joy to have in the house. All Sierra wants is to be loved and included. She stays by her people while they work, eat and sleep. She is a huge snuggle-bug in bed and makes herself super comfortable around the house on the couches and futon. She does sleep on the floor and on dog beds as well. When she is tired at the end of the night, she will lay on your lap as long as you let her. She loves being brushed and petted – especially on her belly. She will flop to her back immediately and just let you rub her belly.

She is generally calm around the house, although her and her foster brother have bouts where they wrestle or run around like the crazy young pups they are. But, she is just as content laying in the grass chewing sticks or relaxing on the living room floor. She loves spending time outside. She is startled by sudden noises, such as trash collection at the school, sirens, or anything else out of the ordinary she senses. She will almost always respond to those with a growl and series of barks to alert you and her foster brother. We think she is also protective at times – e.g., when her foster dad enters the room after she is already asleep with her foster mom, she growls and barks as well.


Sierra is not the biggest eater, but it could just be the stage of growth she is in right now, as she only eats when she is hungry. She does love snacks, such as biscuits, bananas, peanut butter (in a Kong), meat/fish/cheese of any kind, and other random foods (sugar snap peas, mandarin oranges, strawberries). She will take these very nicely from your hand (most of the time). She shares food and water very well and I will often catch her and her foster brother eating or drinking out of the same bowl at times (her foster brother doesn’t like sharing food as much).

She had a bath at our place and was very calm – it helped she had some peanut butter to lick off the tub wall too! She now loves the tub and when we turn the water on, her and her foster brother climb on in to drink the water there.

Sierra does get a little excited and will jump up on you (or the table), so this is something she needs some work on yet.
When she does steal laundry, she is very reluctant to give it up. She has a tight grip and if you try to take it from her, she will growl at times. We have been trying to keep her away from laundry or say ‘no’ and spray with water and have had some luck. She has only done this clamping down with her mouth with clothes and a toothbrush. She will let you brush her teeth, but when she decides she’s done, she will clamp down and you cannot get it out of her mouth.

Fears: Sierra was unsure around stairs and our sliding door the first few days, but has overcome those insecurities really quick. I don’t believe she likes to be left alone, especially if her foster brother or mom is the one leaving. She is used to her foster mom being home all day with her and when I leave the house, she becomes more lethargic and won’t really eat or play (according to her foster dad).

Favorite Toys/Games: Sierra’s favorite toy is by far any ball, especially tennis balls that squeak. This was the first toy she played with when she got to our foster home. She will play ball by herself, but also loves to play ball with her foster brother (by nosing it to him or trying to steal his). She will chase balls, but may not always bring them back. She has a soft mouth and lets you take the tennis ball out of her mouth easily. After a week or so, she has been discovering the other toys in the house and will carry a stuffed animal or will chew on a bone if she feels like it. I haven’t seen her de-stuff a toy yet! Her foster brother recently taught her how to play tug, but you need to keep an eye that she tugs appropriate items. She will tug ropes, sticks, stuffed animals, and clothing (yes, be aware of this!). She is a laundry thief and would just carry around socks, shorts, etc. and curl up with them. Other than ripping one shirt due to playing tug with her foster brother, she hasn’t destroyed any other clothing.

Behavior in Cars: Sierra did just fine in the car. She sat in the back seat with her foster brother for a 30 minute drive no problem. She tends to sit instead of laying down and will wander around the back seat until she is comfortable, but she was a very quiet passenger!

Interaction with dogs: At first, Sierra was very submissive and shy around her foster brother who is one month older than her. Within 2 days she started initiating play with him (by pawing at him) and now they play, run, and cuddle together on a daily basis. Now, they are both equally dominant/submissive with one another. She had a visit with an 8-yr old golden who played with her foster brother – she mostly sniffed the dog and observed their playtime. A few times she tried to join in, but may not be confident enough to jump in with 2 other dogs just yet until she learns her place with them. Although she loves being near her foster brother, she is independent and would rather sleep with or near her people, even when her foster brother is in another room.

We took Sierra to a training class with 6 other dogs (all breeds/ages/energies) and for the first 15 minutes, she was overwhelmed and would growl or bark at the other dogs. After calming down, she was more focused on training with me than bothering with the other dogs.

She tends to get worked up when she hears neighbor dogs in their yards and growls and barks, especially if the other dog is barking at her. We have been trying to work with her on this.

Siera with ball

Interaction with cats: Sierra has not had any direct contact with cats, although at dog training, she saw the cat that lives there and didn’t have any negative reactions, such as barking, growling or lunging.

Interaction with children: Sierra has had no interaction with children at her current foster home, and we know her original owners didn’t have young children either.

Fence requirements: Sierra would do best with a family with a fenced-in yard. She has never tried to escape or jump the 4-ft fence, so a lower fence is fine. She loves greeting our neighbor through the fence. Her foster brother is a digger, but we have only seen her dig once or twice near the fence, and it’s usually because she drops a tennis ball in the hole and tries to get it out.

Leash manners: Sierra gets excited to go places and on walks. She is very strong and needs a harness and more practice leash walking.

House Trained: Other than a few mishaps in the first few days being in foster, Sierra has not had accidents since. She does struggle with submissive or excited pees, especially when someone comes home or when someone leaves that she is very attached to. They have become less frequent since she has been here, but it is something she would have to work on as she gets more comfortable in her forever home.

Available date: now

Adoption fee: $500

Note: We were told Sierra slept in a crate at her previous owner’s place, but we were unable to get her in one to sleep the first two nights, so we haven’t crated her since she has been here. She has been perfectly fine if we leave and she is in the house with her foster brother and/or other dogs. She has never chewed anything inappropriate in the house. She had some initial training with her original owners, so can sit and go down, and enthusiastically gives you her paw (even if you don’t ask for it). We think she would do well with a little more training once she finds her forever home. She has been a great addition to our family while in foster.

March 16, 2019   No Comments