We’ve all seen the television promotions showing very neglected and abused dogs that need our help. They are sick…injured…emaciated…forlorn. These images tug at our heartstrings and implore us to help. Here at Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies (GRRR), we accept Goldens of all shapes, sizes, ages, and conditions. Some are just as desperate as the dogs on TV. Just such a Golden is GRRR’s dear Noel. Noel, at 7 years old, found her way to GRRR shortly before the holidays. A stray from the western slope of Colorado, she arrived with nothing, not even a name. Because it was December, she was given a very appropriate, uplifting name—Noel. Upon first meeting the loving folks of GRRR, it was evident that this sweet girl was in great need. The most obvious problem was that she was severely underweight. She needed to gain about 10 pounds or approximately 20% of her size. No doubt it had been a long time, if ever, since she had enjoyed ample quantities of nutritious food. This problem was easily addressed as GRRR set about nourishing her and helping her gain strength. Because she was so very thin, Noel wore a sweater to help her retain her body heat. It is not often that we see a Golden Retriever wearing a sweater or a coat, but there are certainly times when one is needed. All Goldens who come into the welcoming arms of GRRR receive a veterinary exam and are brought up to date on all their necessary vaccinations. This takes place soon after they arrive. Noel’s exam revealed serious problems. It was obvious to our veterinarian that she had been used as a breeder dog and had carried, delivered ,and nursed several litters of puppies. How depleted and worn out her poor, frail body must have been. Even for an otherwise well-cared-for dog, so many pregnancies take a great toll. Now at age 7, Noel apparently had been discarded…thrown away, as she was perceived of little value by her breeder. She was abandoned to fend for herself after providing, for most of her life, the services asked of her by the breeder. As part of her care with GRRR, she has now been spayed and will never again be expected to sacrifice her body to bring puppies into the world. But Noel was diagnosed with a much bigger, life-threatening problem. Her blood test came back positive for heartworm. Heartworm is a condition that can cause severe lung inflammation and heart failure and can result in death. As most responsible dog owners know, heartworm is easily preventable when dogs are given a monthly oral medication, which is very palatable. On the other hand, treatment for active heartworm is agonizing for the afflicted dog. It is also very expensive. Poor, poor Noel—a loving, trusting Golden without a home of her own, seriously underweight and with a body weakened from multiple litters. Thankfully, she was surrounded by the loving arms of Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies. Noel’s next problem was that the medicine used to treat heartworm has become scarce, and GRRR’s vet was not at all sure that he could get his hands on enough to administer the needed medication to her. This disease is uncommon in the Rocky Mountains, and perhaps this is why there is not much of the treatment medicine available in this area. The fact that Noel arrived heartworm positive raises the possibility that she may have lived in a southern state where the disease is more prevalent, and she was “dumped” in Colorado. With great thanks to our veterinary hospital partner for locating enough of the medicine for Noel, a plan was formulated to get this precious girl the help she desperately needed. And this plan has several aspects. First, as mentioned above, this treatment will be grueling for Noel. She received several injections given at prescribed intervals with an outpatient day at the hospital each time. Now she is confined and will need to lead a very quiet life style during the treatment period, probably a few months. Noel encountered yet another major hurdle—a diagnosis of pneumonia. This is a very serious illness, requiring costly medications, and she must be checked, and perhaps rechecked, to be certain the lungs are clear, so there is no risk of recurrence. All of this is very daunting for a 7-year-old homeless girl. But remember, Noel is a Golden Retriever and has the spirit characteristic of her noble breed. She also has the love of the GRRR family. Thankfully she also has the financial resources GRRR can provide to help her through this crisis in her life. As mentioned earlier, treatment for heartworm is very expensive—in actual cost as well as in cost to the Golden. It is because of dogs like Noel who come into GRRR’s care that we reach out to you to help if you can. By supporting our Golden Angel Fund, you ensure that money will be there for the next dog who arrive with extraordinary needs. Most often those needs are medical, but occasionally they can be behavioral. GRRR cares for them all with the individualized, quality care each so deserves. So the next time you see one of the heart-tugging television spots, please think of GRRR too, and help by contributing to the Golden Angel Fund.