Golden Rule Retrievers was born from our family's life-changing experience with Piper. Piper came to us at only five weeks. She was a gift to our daughter, Gracie, on her 14th birthday from her grandparents. At only five weeks, Piper was very intuitive and intelligent. She was a one-time learner and she quickly mastered some fun tricks. We used signs with her as we gave commands and she did the basics over and over. On command, Piper sat, army crawled, yawned, spoke, and even gave high fives. Inherently, of course, Piper fetched. She chose tennis balls over anything else and she loved it when we hit them with a tennis racket! She would track back and forth right to left, stop, look to us for a hand signal, and go in the direction we pointed, not once coming back without the ball. All day, everyday, Piper wanted to fetch, solve doggie puzzles, play hide and seek in the house; anything that kept her mind busy. She was a problem solver.

At night, Piper slept at the foot of our bed. Soon, she began to alert to my shortness of breath and the silence that came when I didn't breathe at all. I was diagnosed in 2003 with Tracheal Stenosis, a chronic illness that continually grows scar tissue along the inside of the trachea and narrows the pathway through which we get air. At several points, my airway was only 2 millimeters. Yes, two millimeters. We were very blessed to be treated by Dr. Steven Zeitels at Massachusetts General Hospital, who, over the years, performed many surgeries, eventually stabilizing through a transplant and chemotherapy. Even with all the treatments and procedures, my airway remains very small, usually around 6 millimeters. Because our bodies tend to relax when we are sleeping, my greatest risk is at night. Piper began to nudge me when she noticed a change in my breathing. 

We were SOLD! While some of Piper's actions are inherited traits and behavioral characteristics, we have continued to work with her in other areas. Piper is now a certified therapy dog. She has experience working with children in public school classrooms, autistic and Downs Syndrome, physically handicapped, Hospice, and she has helped children in counseling. Piper also has aided in Domestic Violence Victims' Advocacy. 

Our little Piper became a big hit and eventually we decided to add to our number. Bella, an English Cream Golden Retriever, came to us in 2014 and was a happy and very busy little bee. We had more work than Piper could do in helping others, so we decided to send Bella to Doggie College at Dark Horse Retrievers. When Bella came home, she had doubled in size and was absolutely a big, fluffy snuggle bunny! She immediately started going to counseling sessions and into classrooms to lighten Piper's load. Still, the more we volunteered, the more we saw the necessity for canine helpers in our community and surrounding towns.

Sam. Sam is a lovable gentleman who adores Piper. His dark red coat and willingness to please with that dashing golden smile plastered across that beautiful face- Piper and Sam had a litter of nine puppies, all of which were healthy, happy and very easy to train. And again, the more we worked with them, the more we saw the need for well-trained Goldens that could be of service to those in need. 

Service dogs can cost anywhere from $10,000 to as much as $32,000. Our family knows and understands what a working dog can do for a sick patient. We also have been down that road that is littered with medical bills, electricity cut-off notices and travel expenses due to the huge costs of a family member's declining health. It's during times like these that a dog with manners can be most helpful to a patient and family, yet coming up with the money to buy and train a dog can't be on the priority list at such a trying time. 

Our family decided that one way to make our corner of the world a brighter place, we would share our experiences and our Goldens. Piper and Bella became more and more involved with children, the elderly and those who are ill. We have since added other dogs to our brood. Every Golden family member lives inside our home and is a part of our family. Each Golden has many hours of public access and works regularly with teachers and their classes, attends community events and provides comfort when it is needed. A Duke University study showed that the action of petting a dog releases oxytocin from the brain. Scientists have known for a while that when the brain lets go of this chemical, stress is reduced and patients feel comforted. 

Our Golden Rule mission is to provide and train Golden Retrievers and Goldendoodles for the main purpose of training in therapy and service. We have searched far and wide for our precious Goldens, from the west coast, along the Gulf Coast and to the Pacific Ocean. While almost all of our dogs have hunting in their immediate pedigrees, our main purpose is not to foster hunting behaviors, but to reframe them in such a way that each Golden Rule dog can be helpful to their partners and families as they grow. Each dog exhibits positive characteristics we look for in therapy and service dogs as well as good companion dogs. Not all Goldens are cut out for service or therapy, but every single golden we have raised or trained is teachable. Some are better suited for families with small children or more lively home environments while others find comfort in simply being present with their human partner. We assess our dogs on working and behavioral scales as they grow to determine with whom they will bond and which homes are best suited for their temperaments. No matter where you go to choose a Golden Retriever, please take the proper steps and ask the right questions to determine which dog is best for you. One size doesn't fit all - it takes the right puppy, the right behavior and the right timing to make things work with a new dog. We wish you much luck and joy in your search! Life is truly Golden!