Finding Warm Homes for Cold Noses Since 1991!

Golden Retriever Rescue of Atlanta

Charlie finds his "furever" home


Fourteen-month-old Charlie (Yonah) picked the McGowan family for his "furever" home! Congratulations to all.


How to stop a Good Golden from excessive barking

Does your Golden Retriever constantly bark at anything and everything? Have you tried in the past to try to stop the behavior on your own but just couldn't seem to find the right approach that worked?

In this GRRA "Good Goldens" post, we've called upon our training partner Chris McLeod from The Canine Ranch ( in Canton, GA to personally assist us with her canine behavioral expertise regarding excessive barking and what you can do to help your adopted Golden be a Good Golden.

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This type of barking is typically an alert bark, so let’s address this by taking an example of a doorway.

The doorbell rings and the dog starts barking non-stop at the door. Go to the door and stand in front of the door with your back to the door. Step towards the dog and ask them to step away from the door area (I usually shoo with my hands as well).

If you have a rug or boundary that you can ask them to move back towards, pick that area as your goal, and make them move back maybe 3 or 4 feet. Just move them away from the door. The goal is to be quiet, not to sit or down - that’s for another day.

Once they’ve moved back, say your words, “Quiet” or “Enough” or “No Speak”. Use the same words, and only those words. Once they’re quiet for just a moment, say “Thank You” or “Good Dog” or something that you’ll say continuously.

Don’t open the door until the dog is quiet. Now the dog barks at the window - do the same there. Step in front, move towards the dog, and get them to move back.

The reason this exercise works is that we’re mimicking the way a dog would posture over a bone. Dogs recognize the body language of standing in front of something that we own or control.

By standing in front of something that is “alerting”, you’re letting the dog know that you now own that problem. You now “own” the window and all the noises that come from behind it as well.

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You can apply this same theory to any scenario, but don’t expect results outside until you see results inside. Dogs have less control of their emotions when there are more stimulus around, so they have to learn to control themselves with more things going on.

It would be unrealistic to expect them to control themselves with cars and bicycles going by if they can’t control themselves with a vacuum cleaner or a doorbell. Work from smaller distractions to bigger and harder distractions, always making sure that you reward for success (but not with cookies!).

Just reward with praise and affection. You’ll see a different in no time!

Do you have any training or behavioral issues regarding your GRRA Golden Retriever that you'd like to ask Chris McLeod from The Canine Ranch? Tell us on our GRRA Facebook page and we'll be happy to pass along your question. We're always here to help our adopting families. All you have to do is ask!

Happy Tales - Madison

VOM When I was about 8 years old, my family and I adopted a dog from the Dixie Golden Retriever Rescue here in town. Unfortunately, we had to put him down which was extremely sad.

When my husband and I started talking last year about adopting a dog again, I realized that the only dog I had ever loved was my Golden. So, I looked online for Golden Retriever Rescues and the first one I found was GRRA.

I had a lady contact me about a home visit and that weekend she came over. At first I thought about a younger dog, then she showed me a picture of Madison and I instantly fell in love! I patiently waited for the call from the Foster Mom.

Then one day I was at work and a random number popped-up on my phone. I ran to the back to answer it. And my prayers had been answered ---- it was Maddie's Foster! We set-up a meet and greet.

The day finally came and Maddie was coming for her home visit to see if my husband and I were a good match. At first, Madison was very shy and hid behind her Foster Mom, but then it happened...... She walked right over to me, laid down at my feet, and that was it. The Foster told me that we were the perfect match!

The Foster Mom and I decided that following Monday I would come and pick-up our new furbaby. That was the most amazing day of my life! VOM Since Madison has been living with us, she has become a completely different dog. She really loves her stuffed teddy bear, lots and lots of cuddles, and she especially loves to talk to us when we get up or get back home.

I will always use GRRA for any other dog I decide to adopt. But for now, Madison is the perfect furbaby to complete my family.

----- submitted by Kara Sornberger

Volunteers needed at Woofstock 2017 in Suwanee

Pet Party in the Park! GRRA is happy to announce that we will once again be a sponsor at Woofstock being held this year on May 6th and May 7th at Suwanee Town Center.

Woofstock is a 2-day event that invites hundreds of local dog rescue organizations to visit with and talk to attendees from all over Georgia.

GRRA is looking for several volunteers to help us either Saturday or Sunday during that weekend at our sponsorship table to answer questions, discuss our rescue mission statement, and sign attendees up to be future foster families and supporters just like you.

And if that's not fun enough ---- All volunteers are encouraged to bring their own adopted GRRA Golden Retriever along with them on their designated shift to help assist with getting our message out.

How cool is that? Your OWN Golden can be a full-on GRRA ambassador. Or should we say......Ambassadog!

Are you or someone you know available May 6th or May 7th to help us get the word out about Golden Retriever Rescue of Atlanta? If so, please feel free to reach out to Hal Schlenger at and sign-up today for an available volunteer shift that works within your personal schedule.

Meet some dog rescue families. Spend some quality outdoor time with your adopted GRRA Golden. And come be a part of what is sure to be an enjoyable weekend at Woofstock 2017.

Hope to see you there!

Dog of the Month - Logan


Hi, I'm Logan. My foster family has totally fallen head over heels for me and would adopt me in a heartbeat if they could have three dogs. I'm a wonderful boy who is very loving, gentle, and love being with my people and pack. There aren't any kids in my foster home but I was wonderful with the kids at Adoption Day-I was very engaged and sat quietly while they were petting and talking to me. I'm excellent with other dogs and even though I could be a single dog, I would thrive in a multi-dog home. I'm much improved on my leash-walking skills and love to go for 2-3 mile daily walks, am good in the car, am house-trained, and even though I don't need a crate, I love to take breaks in mine. I know several commands too, like sit, wait, room, let's go, and hurry. Interestingly, my foster family discovered I know Spanish and that initially slowed my understanding of English commands. I need a fenced backyard in my forever home since if I do get away, I will take to exploring and not return home. I love to while away my time in the backyard, laying in the sun and watching the world go by. I love being brushed-I even like my teeth brushed! I'm the kind of boy who's just happy to be with people. I've been cared for and loved by my foster family, and they have helped me through heartworm treatment. I can't wait to be a wonderful, faithful, friend to a loving forever family or individual. If you are interested in adopting me, please contact GRRA. If you would like to adopt a Golden Retriever, please complete the online application.

Volunteer of the Month - Melinda Lahmers


Put your paws together for Melinda Lahmers, our April GRRA™ Volunteer of the Month! Melinda and her family have had Golden Retrievers for 30 years. She currently has her eighth and ninth goldens - a puppy named Gibbs and 3-year old Cooper. Melinda's long history with the breed is why she always looks for "everything golden" and happened upon GRRA's Facebook page back in October 2015. Social media is a wonderful thing as it brings us awesome supporters and dedicated volunteers. Melinda contacted GRRA right away and quickly became an Adoption Consultant. Melinda has enjoyed her time being an Adoption Consultant (AC). "You get to meet a lot of different people. You get to hear their stories. There has been a few times that I've cried along with always empathize with an applicant when they've lost pets," she shares. However, they are always hopeful that they will find another perfect golden. For those who want to explore being an AC, here are Melinda's responsibilities. It starts when she is assigned an applicant and she contacts them within 24 hours. A telephone interview is set up and GRRA has a set of questions to get to know the applicant's history with dogs and their home situation a little bit better. Next, she arranges for a home checker in their area to dive deeper into the applicants' home environment. Finally, after approval, the fun part begins and applicants start searching for adoptees that they are interested in. If a particular dog and family seem compatible, Melinda forwards the foster the applicant's application, telephone interview, and home check. She always makes it a point to remain in constant contact with the foster and family to ensure all information is being exchanged and follow ups are made. Melinda would like to venture out to other roles, potentially doing home checks or helping out with GRRA's largest fundraiser, the Rescue Romp. Around three dozen applicants have had the pleasure of working with Melinda over the last year and a half. GRRA wants to commend Melinda for always being willing to take on extra applicants since we are lucky to have so many people interested in adopting our wonderful dogs. Throughout her time as an AC Melinda says, "My most memorable experience is anytime my applicants are chosen to adopt. It's like winning the lottery...their excitement is contagious!" With her long history of owning goldens, Melinda says, "It is so hard seeing these dogs that are homeless...if I can help them find another loving home, I will try." Melinda's thoroughness and positive attitude definitely helps the sometimes stressful process of matchmaking our dogs to potential fur-ever homes. GRRA would like to thank you, Melinda, for being the friendly "face" of the organization to our applicants!

Golden Health Topic - Dog Allergies

Is your Golden Retriever an obsessive licker? Do you frequently catch him scratching or biting at his own feet or coat? It can often be hard to know whether it’s allergies or related to another possible health issue.

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Just like humans, Goldens can overreact to harmless allergens in the air. If not treated, however, excessive biting and itching of the skin can quickly become the result. Dog allergy season tends to coincide with human allergy season, too. But it's hard sometimes to decipher what the root cause could actually be.

A common type of allergy in dogs is atopy. Atopy refers to environmental allergies ---- a dog’s body releases excess histamine when exposed to higher concentrations of pollen in the air which unfortunately prompts these chronic symptoms.

The most common signs of atopic allergies in dogs are:

Itching / Scratching / Biting / Chewing / Redness inside paw pads and rashes on the body

The itching will likely start seasonally which initially is how you can distinguish between atopy and other types of allergies. But because allergies are often progressive, it’s likely your Golden will eventually become itchy year-round.

If not addressed, secondary bacteria build-up issues due to chronic allergies can also find a home in your Golden's ears and eyes which warrants additional treatment from your Vet.

You can initially help your allergic dog try to fight these awful irritants at home in a few ways ----

Wipe off your dog’s paws to remove allergens after walks ---- Pet grooming wipes are a quick way to remove dander and allergens when a full bath isn’t possible.

Try a hypo-allergenic shampoo ---- You can buy most any related anti-itch shampoo over-the-counter at your local pet or drug store. Look for soothing ingredients like aloe, almond, or coconut butter.

Try a special prescription shampoo from your Vet ---- Medicated, anti-allergy options are also available at your Vet and can help control large areas of inflammation on the skin.

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If the chronic skin itching / biting does not stop or you see the rash or redness areas continue to grow under your Golden's coat, please see your Vet immediately for additional advice for "next steps" in treatment.

Your Vet can also assist you with ruling out other allergy possibilities such as fleas, certain ingredients in foods, or direct contact with specific plants or chemicals in your own backyard.

No one wants to see their furry best friend suffer with itchy skin. If you are diligent with recognizing the possible symptoms early, you can find the right combination of what will work to help your Golden feel healthier and itch-free ---- not to mention A LOT happier.

Do you have a Golden Retriever that has battled chronic allergies and/or skin issues in the past? Any advice or home remedy treatments that have worked wonders for your dog? Please share them with us at GRRA. We'd love to hear from you. Here's to Golden Health, everyone!

Volunteer of the Month - Denny Beresford

VOM Volunteer of the month? Surely not me as there are so many others who contribute much more to the day to day success of GRRA. But rather than simply declining an undeserved honor I decided that I would accept the recognition – on behalf of all of the GRRA Finance Team!

Serving as a Director and Treasurer of GRRA for the past three and a half years has been made possible only by the strong support of the large group of highly qualified individuals who provide all of the business record keeping that allows our dog-facing volunteers to do their job properly. In alphabetical order, the current Finance Team consists of:

Cathie Andress – processing of PayPal transactions and transfers to our bank account
Sherry Blanton – thank you notes for donations
Tina Hudgins – accounting records postings and bank reconciliations
Louise Sghiatti – processing checks for payments to vets and other GRRA expenses
Carol Shipley – picking up mail at our PO box, making cash deposits, and preparing grant applications
Natalie Shpigel – preparation of annual dog calendar and paper membership-renewal newsletter
Meredith Ussery – Salesforce entries for donations, etc.

Some of these Team members contribute in other ways to GRRA's success such as Carol's frequent fostering activities. And while all of the Team members should receive equal recognition, one is "more equal than others." That's my Assistant Treasurer and right hand person, Kate Lipchiz.

Kate was Treasurer before me and patiently trained me to assume my duties (I'm still in training over three years later!). More important, she's stayed involved with the Team to help recruit new members, train them in their new assignments, and always be available to answer questions no matter how large or small. She also digs in to help with many of the specific finance activities such as overseeing the accounting records postings and working with Natalie on the annual dog calendar and paper newsletter. With her great knowledge of GRRA's history, she has truly bailed me out several times when specific issues seemed to pose impossible challenges. In short, I couldn't have done the Treasurer job without Kate's significant behind the scenes help.

Thanks to all of the Finance Team and particular thanks to Kate!

I first became aware of GRRA many years ago when my wife and I were looking to adopt a Golden after the death of one of ours. At that time we lucked into a private adoption so we didn't need to complete the GRRA process. But I stayed in touch, made a few donations, and read the regular newsletter. When I saw that a new Treasurer was needed, I thought that was an area where I could help with my accounting background.

Last year we were able to adopt Baylee from GRRA – a now nearly four year-old mix of Golden Retriever and Collie with a little Great Pyrenees tossed in! Thanks George Ellis and Susan Swartz for your work in bringing Baylee to us. Baylee is still a work in process as he doesn't have the same warm and friendly behavior of a typical Golden – but he's getting better. And after all, our adopting him is what GRRA is all about – providing a forever home for a deserving dog and growing to love one another over time.

Thanks to GRRA for giving me this wonderful opportunity to serve.

Happy Tales - Holly and Henry

VOM Mike and I adopted Holly and Henry from Golden Retriever Rescue of Atlanta this past spring. Although Mike and I have had many dogs over the last 35 years, we actually have never any adopted senior dogs.

At this stage of our lives, we were not interested in the training, chewing, and excess energy that accompany puppies and younger dogs. And these two seniors were clearly bonded together so we took them both.

Holly and Henry had been abandoned and were sadly in tough shape when rescued by GRRA. Holly unfortunately had heartworms and Henry had lost most of his coat due to a bacterial and fungal skin infection.

Regardless of the obvious neglect Holly and Henry endured in their previous journey, they do not have a mean bone in either of their bodies. They are completely full of love and appreciation.

They are calm around energetic children and unfazed by noisy deck parties. Holly and Henry might move slowly (due to arthritis), but their tails wag with abundant energy and delight.

Mike and I heartily recommend the adoption of senior Golden dogs. We feel that we are the lucky ones for doing so!

Bonnie Sammons

Dog of the Month - Darwin


Hi, I’m Darwin. I’m a handsome, fun boy who, after getting time to know a new person, loves to give hugs and play. Because it takes time to get to know new people, it’s best that I’m not around kids. I’m very good with other dogs and enjoy playing with them but could be an “only” kid in my forever home too. I’m very curious with cats but not aggressive or mean. I’m really smart and know several commands like sit, down, come on leash, wait (at the door) and I don’t pull on a leash, good in the car and know how to load up into the truck. I love to go for walks and would make a great hiking companion for the intrepid explorer out there. A fence is preferred since I like to run and play safely and take time to warm-up to new people. I’m a special boy seeking a family who will let me progress at my own pace, who will respect my likes and dislikes and who will devote lots of time to me. If you’re interested in adopting me, please contact GRRA.

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