Happy Tails

Recent Happy Tails  CJThumb

Welcome to WAAGR’s “Happy Tails” page.  We will continue to add current brief stories about the wonderful goldens that have found their forever homes through WAAGR.  These dogs have a “happy tail” behind them that WAAGR wants  to share.  If you adopted a golden from WAAGR and would like to share your story, email info@waagr.org.


Cooper Found a New Home!




We are thrilled to be writing another story for Happy Homes!

Once again we have been rescued by a dog! This is the 9th time!

Cooper will be 11 years old in November. His family in Iowa had to move from their home and gave him up. So, off Cooper goes, wagging his tail, going for a ride in the car! And he ends up in Wisconsin at our house. What could he possibly be thinking? But, of course, Cooper doesn’t show any of his sadness, he only tries to love again and to trust again. And he is successful in about 5 minutes. Animals do so much better with life than humans do.

Cooper is such a good boy. He is well-behaved in the house, goes outside for potty, and he tries to do everything we ask of him – which isn’t much actually, except for the hugs we require hour by hour. Cooper is cheerful and always looks for good.

If you ever struggle with the “one day at a time” thing, try living with a dog who didn’t find his forever home until he was 10 ½ years old. He will teach you fast.

Cooper brought his own bed with him from Iowa and he goes there when we say good night. Of course, his bed is right next to ours. And although our cat is often on our bed, Cooper looks at Manny as if to say, “I have my own bed!”

Speaking of Manny – we have been doing this for 25 years and Cooper’s transition is the easiest one we’ve ever had. Manny didn’t even move from his spot on the couch when Cooper walked in the door of our house for the first time. This dog who we were told is fine with cats is so incredibly gentle that our cat didn’t even bother to look up.

Each time one of our dogs die, we wonder how we will ever go on. And of course, each time we do. But this time – we were recently retired, had just moved from our home to a new city, and our animals were a way of bringing some of our life with us. Then Toby died suddenly. And then Cooper found us. And, as they say, we all lived happily ever after!

How can we thank Cooper? We will do our best to make the rest of his life better than he dreamed of. And we will thank WAAGR – an amazing organization of amazing people who help dogs like Cooper find homes like ours!


Jill Ramberg and Bob Merrill
Appleton, WI



Brooks is a WAAGR adoptee who now serves as the mascott for the Rockhounds baseball team in Green Bay. Go, Brooks and the Rockhounds!

Brooks is a WAAGR adoptee who now serves as the mascott for the Rockhounds baseball team in Green Bay. Go, Brooks and the Rockhounds!


Sammy #1418

My name is Sammy, and I have a wonderful ‘Forever Home’ in Wauwatosa. Back in July 2014, I was 6 months old when I was ‘fostered’ to see if I would work out. Well, the foster thingy didn’t last long, because after the 1st night, Jim and Beverly decided to give me my forever home. They have owned several goldens’ since 1970 and I am very happy to be their latest.

They have a fenced back yard so I can run around and chase squirrels and birds. So far, I haven’t caught one yet but I keep trying!

I’ve been to a few dog training classes to learn basic obedience and manners. In fact, in the 1st class, there was another golden named ‘Sammy’ in the class, so he was referred to as “Big Sammy'” and I was “Little Sammy”. Well, things have changed and I am now physically bigger than “Big Sammy”. I ended up being long and tall and for awhile I got a little too heavy but now am down to 75 lbs. I see ‘Big Sammy’ and his step-sister ‘Nellie with their forever dad Dave occasionally at the dog park.

I love the dog park where I can run and play with other dogs and chase after my ball and get treats. I’m crazy about balls and love to chase them. Besides Big Sammy and Nellie, some of the many WAAGR dogs I see at the park are Anna, Java, Polar, Tia, Amigo and Cora. I probably forgot to mention the names of some of them, but we all have fun when we have an ‘unofficial WAAGR reunion’.

Sometimes, there might be as many as 6 to 10 WAAGR rescue dogs in our ‘pack.’ I just love it when ‘Auntie Maureen’ is at the park with her dogs Noah and Jonah, and most of the time with another WAAGR newcomer being evaluated. She has been very good to me and helped find my forever home. There is a special bond between us and that must be because I know she is responsible for me being where I am now. ‘Uncle Steve’ is always willing to give me a great belly rub, and ‘Uncle Dave’ always has hotdog treats. We all sit in a semi-circle and one by one we each get a treat. Yummy!!!!

Many times forever dad Jim will take some video clips at the dog park and then play them back on the television for forever mom Bev to watch. I love watching the videos, but get confused when I hear forever dad Jim’s voice on the tv in front of me, and then hear him talking behind meat the same time. I enjoy watching tv, especially when animals are on the screen.

I’m 22 months old now and have a good life. I have the ‘run of the house’. One of my favorite hobbies is to ‘playfully chew’ on my forever mom Beverly’s feet. I even go to find her slippers and bring them to her when she asks me to. I just love those furry slippers in my mouth if you know what I mean!! I’m so happy she’s my foster mom. She always pets me when I come to sit next to her when she’s watching television. She gives a tremendous paw massage!!

I was a ‘trying’ puppy a year ago and almost destroyed my yard with all my ‘excavation techniques’ (digging!). Forever dad Jim measured one of the holes and it was over 6 inches deep. This spring my forever dad filled in the holes and planted grass seed to repair the results of my digging last year. I’m happy to report that the grass seeds are growing, I outgrew that nasty behavior and only dug 1 small hole this year. When Forever dad Jim is doing things in the back yard, he always tells me I’m a good boy for not digging holes anymore. I love it when I’m told I’m a good boy.

Speaking of being a good boy, that is not always the case. Sometimes I get into trouble when it is meal time. You see, I’m tall, and it is no effort at all for me to put my entire snout on the table. I just stand there and lean in, and vioIa, my snout is right next to the evening meal. I am quickly told “BACK” and I really don’t like to move back when all that good smelling food is so close. I always eventually move back, and to date, I must confess I have been a dismal failure of being a food thief – I have not succeeded in stealing one single meal!!

I always greet forever dad Jim at the door when he comes home from work and follow him around the house. I get so excited and act a little crazy and jump with joy like I’m on a pogo stick. He has nicknamed me “Velcro” and says I cling to him like 2 pieces of velco stuck together. He always pets me and talks to me. I love it when he gives me a super ear rub. I’m happy he’s my forever dad. I always ‘hang with him’ when he’s in the office working on the computer.

Oh yes, I have turned out to be a GREAT watchdog. How do I know this? Because forever mom and dad keep telling me how happy they are that when I hear things outside, I raise all hell and head for the closest door barking and growling.

Thanks for reading my story, and I hope we meet someday. I love making new friends. Thanks to WAAGR for giving me a fantastic life, with special thanks to Auntie Maureen, Uncle Steve and Uncle Dave. Signed: Little Sammy Hahn

P.S. I have a nice dog bed, but the couch and love seat are so much more comfortable if you know what I’m saying!!



Sammy with his mouth on the table


Bella (Now Stella)

Stella has become a therapy dog!  What a happy life she now has.
Below is a pic of Stella in her Halloween costume visiting a nursing home.
















tobyHappytails4               tobyHappytails1

After spending the past 24 years working with and loving shelter and rescue dogs, we were recently rescued by Toby!  Our last furry child died about a month ago and we wondered if maybe we should “retire” from this way of life.  That idea lasted about one day when we realized that our house was a waste of space, somewhere that a homeless animal could call home.  

Toby is now the center of attention here.  He is affectionate, both to us and to tennis balls.  He is a joy to be around.  We actually feel a bit guilty about having him since our reward is so great with such little effort. 

We own a small dental clinic and have given Toby the back treatment room, right next to the desk area.  He is perfectly behaved and everyone loves him.  We brought him with us to work when he first came to our home because we wanted him to see us all day and get used to the fact that we are his family now.  After 4 days on the job Toby was promoted from temp. employee to permanent!  His favorite times of the day are when we walk to the post office and when the UPS man brings him a treat. 

The three of us will walk in a fundraiser for our local shelter on May 16th.  We will be honored to walk with Toby! 

Thank you, WAAGR, for all that you do!  We are proud to be associated with your organization and committed to your cause! 

Love from Eau Claire, WI

Jill and Bob and Toby


Lily1      Lily3

Dear WAAGR, It was 7 years ago this month when we adopted “Alfie” now “Lily” from waagr. We loved her from the moment we met her as she was always ready to go and the life of the party. While her paperwork noted that she liked her frisbee, it was quickly realized that like was more of a love when she awoke us the first morning in our home by gently placing her frisbee on my husband’s head. Even today, as she nears 9 years of age, she loves catching her frisbee and can still give any agility dog a darn good show. In 2007 we lived in Wisconsin with a chocolate lab, Godiva, and rabbit, Pakora…..both of whom she adored.  Today we live in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and she lives with three lovely kitties: Amelia, Tulip, and Anjali. Everyone who has ever met her (which is quite a few) LOVES her (especially us). She always receives accolades for her friendliness and manners…..whether we are at a park, cafe, hiking….. We absolutely adore her and are so thankful to you for rescuing her and matching her to us. She is such a perfect fit in our active multi pet household. I have included a few photos of our beloved Lily for you to enjoy.

Best wishes, Christine and Gautam Samant



Bella was adopted in 2008 They say a picture is worth a thousand words 🙂 Love, love, LOVE this 11-year-old WAAGR happy tails doggie!

-Elizabeth Armstrong

Curly Lambeau

Curly2     Curley1

Who: Curly Lambeau

Age: 4.5 years

Residence: Port Washington, WI

We adopted Curly only four years ago and he has become an irreplaceable part of our family.  He was rescued by WAAGR on a farm with other Golden Retrievers in Oklahoma due to a WAAGR vehicle passing a sign on a barn that said “Free Golden Puppies”.  Although he immediately grew to love our Border Collie, Belle, and any other dog for that matter, Curly was extremely afraid and shy of any new comers, and thus, our entire family upon immediately meeting us.  He was extremely hesitant to come near myself, my mother or sister, and ran away into his crate upon sight of my dad, “the big guy”.  Curly would not come near us even if we said his name unless Belle was in the room or we were kneeling down with our hands out, saying “touch”.  After a few weeks, our timid guy quickly grew to love me, my mother, and sister, but not so much my dad, “the big guy”.  After realizing my dad was Belle’s favorite person and the one to take them to trips to the beach and dog park every day, Curly grew each trip and day to become less and less afraid of him.  Now, Curly’s best friend, ironically, is also “the big guy”.  Where the “big guy” goes, Curly goes. Curly has made remarkable strides. If you met him four years ago, and then now, you would not think he is the same dog. He has completely and whole-heartedly opened up, coming out of his shell to each and every one of my family members.  He is full of personality, energy, and love as opposed to the reserved, scared, and shy self when he first arrived at our home.  There is no other word to describe him than “happy”, he is always smiling and is a bit of an attention hog.  He literally smiles when he sleeps he is so happy, it both hilarious and cute.  In addition, if there were an Olympics for snuggling, Curly would have four gold medals.  When we first got Curly and would take him on a walk downtown, he would try to drag you into the street or any possible direction upon sight of a person, especially children.  Now, Curly lets strangers pet him all the time at the dog park and doesn’t have a heart attack when we pass other people on our walks, he just smiles and continues on with his walk.  The first few months after Curly had adjusted to our family, he would run upstairs and isolate himself in my parents’ room when we had company over. Now, although he does not immediately approach them, he does not freak out, and will be in the same room as them.  No words can give justice to what a huge difference it is, he has done a complete 180.  Curly might take the cake for the happiest, most spoiled and loved, rescued dog in Wisconsin.  He has it pretty good as he has more toys than any toddler I know, goes to the beach or dog park every day, sleeps on our beds (sorry Mom, I secretly know you wouldn’t have it any other way), and there is an 80% chance someone is petting him at all times.   However, I do not that think he could ever be as happy as he has made our family.  His happy spaz attacks he has anytime any of us walk in the door, coming home from school or work, will never fail to put a smile on my face.  Our big “non-retriever” as we call him since he gives playing fetch his best effort, but fails 90% of the time, has brought unlimited amounts of joy into our family and we cannot thank WAAGR enough.  He is one of a kind and I am very lucky to have him as a part of my family.



marly1 marly2 marly3

Hello my name is Kurt Snyder and my wife is Jennifer. We just wanted to write WAAGR a letter that Marley has found his forever home and it would be great if you could post our letter and photos on your website. We adopted Marley Oct 4, 2013 and it has been one of the best things we have ever done. He has been a blessing to our family. I’ve never had a dog, so I didn’t know what to expect. However, when we first met him I fell for him immediately. My wife who has been wanting a golden since we got a home was in love with him from first sight also. He brings an extra spark or light to our home. He has such a great personality and he is so handsome. He loves to go on walks (he is such a good walker), play ball, go to the dog park and go to the pet store to pick out treats or meet other dogs. He is always making us smile or warming our hearts. He is perfect and I couldn’t imagine life without him now.

Thanks to W.A.A.G.R. for making this possible. We are so happy to have Marley in our lives!


Bo1  Bo3Bo2 In a few days it will mark the 2 year anniversary of picking up Bo. I cannot tell you how much he has become a part my life. The first 2 pictures are from our trips to Door County this summer, and the last is his current favorite place on cold nights.



Gustafus1         Gustagus2

Part III: Rufus Assumes Command of His New Home 2013 September-October A rather rapid relinquishment of command has taken place here, don’t ya know! I used to be the boss around here, however an amazing change has taken place. I am finding myself in agreement of just about whatever the new boss wants to do. Rufus has made himself very comfortable and is setting his own routine scenario. He has me trained with a new I want out signal, more at his own convenience than my interpretation of his needs. Rufus now plays much more frequently with his toys and likes to roam around with something in his mouth. The proverbial favorites are his stuffies, with knotted sox (two knotted together) coming in second. He has started the shake-it-up routine with the stuffies and enjoys tossing them into the air and then catching them before they hit the floor. He also has been tested on marrow bones (oven roasted for about 30 minutes, seasoned). A large order of those bones has been delivered from the meat monger. Rufus does’t like the hot temperatures any more than I do so he has shortened his daytime outside trips considerably this past week. We have been doing our walks in the yard around seven at night. We then do the watering of the deck planter pots. He discovered the running water and repeatedly proceeded to stick his face into the flowing water…again and again and again. Since he was already half wet we got the rest of him wet so he matched. He loves the cold water and just stands there wanting more. A series of daily baths have been routine during the warm weather-not so much now that cooler temps prevail. Have been introducing him to the same grain-free diet that I developed with Cofy and Ted. The first couple of months were very trying for both of us; Rufus decided to consume the kibbles while eating around all of those nice filler vegetables. Every kibble was gone but almost 100% of the veggies remained in his dish, even overnight. A hidden ingredient was then added and now all is well. Down the hatch with the entire supper, veggies and all. Rufus spends a great amount of time out of doors, by his choice. The active colony of chippies occupy a large chunk of his time. He would rather be outside closer to the activity than watching through the patio door glass. There have been several nocturnal visitors these weeks and he makes me aware of each and every one of them, no matter what time of night. A family of raccoon kits held his attention for a couple of hours last week with lots of paws on both sides of the glass. Rides, of course, are a top priority and most certainly there aren’t enough of them. Rufus has made it very clear that he doesn’t like being left behind. The few times that it was necessary he accepted it without incident (except for a bit of a bark or two, there has been no destruction of any kind since his arrival (so far). Rufus learned quickly that there are no dogs allowed on the furniture (except his presence in my lap when I’m in the recliner and he wants some extra pets). He has two dog beds to call his own (Living room and bedroom) and he has grown to like them a lot. Often I wonder what he is up to and then find him taking a snoozer in one or the other of his beds.


with dog I have to admit that as excited as I was about getting a dog, I was also a little nervous. When I had a dog growing up, I never was responsible for cleaning up after her, making sure she got her daily exercise, or taking her out. Instead, I played with her when I wanted to and my parents took care of the rest. Winnie was my first dog and I had a slight fear that the initial joys of having a dog may eventually be outweighed by the day to day tasks. Boy was I wrong. The initial joy of adopting Winnie has only increased with time. I cannot imagine not having her to greet me when I come home or to take a walk with or even just to check on when she decides to wander to another room in the house. My love for her continues to increase over time just like the bond we have developed. As for the day to day tasks, they are just part of the privilege of having Winnie. I still remember the day we got Winnie. While the other dogs in the house were running around, she was glued to her foster mom’s side. She was still shy on the way home, preferring to keep her distance from us. She opened up when we got her home though as we played with her and all of the newly purchased dog toys. However, we soon found out that Winnie was not comfortable peeing in her new yard yet. Unfortunately, it was pouring that entire day and night as we took her out every 15 minutes, assuming she must have to go and not wanting to make a mess in the house. Thankfully, she eventually grew comfortable peeing in the yard. Winnie and I have come a long way since that initial day. We have developed a special bond that I did not think was possible given her initial shyness and continued independence. Unlike most dogs, Winnie is not a big fan of petting most of the time, does not seek attention, and would rather sniff than play with other dogs. However, I do not let Winnie off the hook that easily. I constantly seek her out to pet her or just to check up on her. Secretly, I don’t think she minds near as much as she lets on. I think Winnie and I have created a pretty good life together. We love to go to the various dog parks in the area, even in the winter (although Winnie loves it much more in the winter than I do). We love to take walks around the neighborhood or play in the yard. We also love to play with all of the dog toys I cannot resist buying (although Winnie definitely has her favorites). We are lucky enough to have family, neighbors, and friends that love Winnie and spoil her constantly. Although she is my dog, she has been lucky enough to be loved by so many others. This amazing dog rescued and reinvigorated my life when I chose to adopt her from WAAGR in 2009. In the four years since then, Winnie has taught me many life lessons. The most important may be that loving something so strongly and unconditionally is not a weakness; instead, it brings unparalleled joy and happiness.


Ellie1             Ellie2

Dear WAAGR I will always be so grateful to WAAGR for everything they have done for me and Jeff. In 2009 we lost our little golden retriever Renna. She was way too young to die (she was not quite 7) but she had a brain tumor and there was only one thing we could do so that she would not suffer any more. It was so traumatic for us, as anyone who loves goldens (or any pet) knows, but we could not let Renna suffer. At first I just kept saying: no more pets. But it was so hard coming home and not finding Renna at the top of our steps waiting for us. A friend finally suggested going online to a rescue site for goldens. Jeff and I took her advise, and to make a long story short, we have had 3 wonderful years with the golden we adopted from WAAGR in January 2010. We were asked to foster her for a couple weeks. It is now almost 3 years later. We have never regretted adopting her. She has brought sooooo much into our lives. Ellie is the name we gave our new little girl. She started responding to her new name almost immediately. It was very obvious that she was very scared, very anxious and did not know what was going on. But in time she realized we were her new parents and that we would always take good care of her. The first time we ventured out with her to an area where we knew we could let her run, she was so excited. She came back to us each time we called her name. The area we went to had a small play ground and Jeff wondered what she would do on the slide. So he went up the steps and down the slide. Ellie was right behind him. She went up the steps and down the slide. Her and Jeff did this a few times. If only we had gotten a picture of that. We have taken her several places to run now, and she is very compliant with our commands. The trust is there. Ellie loves riding in the car. We found that out early on. She hops in and just sits there in the back seat. If I have to run to the store I know Ellie will not chew up the car while I am shopping. I use a pillow behind my back while driving, and there have been several times when I return to the car and Ellie has moved my pillow over to the passenger side so she can sit in the driver’s seat. She does the same thing on our bed. She loves pillows and will arrange them to suite her. We actually think that she believes OUR bedroom is hers and that she is just sharing it with us. Maybe that explains why she is such a bed hog. We have actually discussed getting a king size bed so there would be more room (for the queen of the goldens). Ellie is very protective and such a good watch dog. She definitely lets us know if someone is outside or coming into the house. The first night after we got Ellie, Jeff came home from work and Ellie barked and carried on to the point that Jeff was actually afraid to come up the steps. That was three years ago. Now she doesn’t even bother to get up when he comes home. And if she does for some reason, Jeff will tell her to go back to bed….and she turns around and does exactly that. I was helping my nephew with day care for his newborn a couple months ago. Ellie would just hover over the baby. When the baby was on a blanket laying on the floor, Ellie would lay down right next to the baby, and she would stay there. She was for sure protecting him. When the baby’s father would come to pick him up, Ellie would stand between him and the baby as if she was saying: Nope, you can’t have him..he’s mine. Currently I am carrying for a two and a half year old named Max. Ellie loves Max and pretty much does the same thing when Max’s Dad comes to pick him up. Ellie and I met Max’s family while Ellie was playing mascot at one of the elementary schools here in town. Every morning we walk to that same school, Ellie sits on the corner where the crossing guard stands, and greets all of the kids as they are coming to school. They all know her name, they pet her, they hug her and then they head into school. I don’t think any of the kids know MY name – only Ellie’s. There have only been a couple days when Ellie and I have not made it to the school corner in the morning, and the crossing guard says that every one of the kids asks where Ellie is. (not me, just Ellie) One of the little boys that Ellie greets every morning at the school, was scared to death of Ellie last year when we started hanging out on the school corner. A dog had bitten him in the face a year or two earlier, so he was not comfortable with Ellie at all. A year has passed now, and this same little boy now kneels down to hug Ellie, he kisses her, pets her, and is not afraid of her at all. Amazing, huh? I started taking Ellie to one of the local churches in town on Fridays. There is a nurse there that runs a respite for elderly people that have 24-7 care from their care givers. On Fridays, the care givers get the day off and their clients come to the church for the day. I was asked to bring Ellie some time, so I did, and it was so much fun watching her go from one elderly person to the next. Ellie is not a certified therapy dog, but you would never know that. I think having Ellie at respite is some kind of ‘special’ therapy for these elderly people. We are now regulars. When Jeff and I first got Ellie, the vet said she needed to lose about 10 pounds to be at a healthy weight. She lost 14 pounds!!! I have always been a walker, so for Ellie to lose the weight walking every day with me was easy. We could tell right away she had never been walked, and it was a real challenge for me as I have had two back injuries, so with the help of a certain harness, our walks now are so enjoyable. For the most part Ellie is right at my side, unless she sees a rabbit or a squirrel. Then I really have to hang onto her. I’m glad I don’t walk her while wearing roller skates. I could share many many more stories about our adopted pet Ellie, but I really don’t want to be sitting at this computer for another three hours. I will conclude by saying that Jeff and I will never ever regret adopting Ellie. She is such a wonderful dog and she truly was therapy for Jeff and I after we lost Renna. We also owe a special thanks to Karen Congdon who physically brought Ellie to us. Jeff and I had pretty much decided to stop looking for a dog when we got the phone call from Karen regarding an invite to become foster parents. Thank you many times over Karen. We have learned that even when you lose that special pet in your life, your heart CAN open up and love again. We know that for a fact. Thank you to everyone at WAAGR Sincerely, Sue Lenz and Jeff Whiting


Ringo and Chief

Ringo&Chief Ringo&Chief2

Dear friends at WAAGR,

We thought we would give you a update on Ringo and Chief who we adopted in May 2012. They have settled into life at our house wonderfully. They still have a love/hate relationship with our cat but the cat has outwitted them on many occasions. They love to be outside, going for walks and playing with our children. Chief is our official house greeter, when you come home he happily sings with a sock in his mouth to you. Ringo is so sweet, docile and loving our own big teddy bear! Every morning they watch their human puppies (our children) go on the bus and eagerly wait for them to come home!!!

We have hopefully helped spread the word of WAAGR to many people looking for a golden and considering the option of a rescue dog through having them in our 4-H petting zoo. Thank you so much for bringing these 2 wonderful dogs into our family!!

The Voelker family


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