A Fitting Tribute to Bacchus

Just over three weeks ago the Intake Coordinator for Gateway Golden Retriever Rescue (GGRR) calledBacchus to tell us that there were six 4-month-old golden retriever puppies that would be coming into rescue.  She was looking for foster homes – some unsuspecting families to open their homes and hearts to a few golden retriever puppies – and she wanted to know how many we’d take.

“Sure, we’ll take 3 or 4 of them,”  I said, trying to contain my excitement over the arrival of puppies.  “In fact, if you cannot find anybody else, we’ll take all 6.”  OMG, in hindsight, what was I thinking?

Trooper, a 3-year-old golden retriever, rescued in March 2011 is still here due to some behavioral issues that we’ve been working hard to correct.  Jasper, an almost 9-year-old golden retriever rescued and adopted by us in 2003 had just undergone surgery to remove a large Mast Cell Tumor on his side, was wandering around somewhat aimlessly, in his muscle ‘T’ and e-Collar.  Amos, another golden retriever also rescued and adopted by us in 2005, was caught in a love/hate relationship with Trooper.  But still, we’ll make room for the puppies.

The six puppies were divided among 3 foster homes.  We took 3 of them – two girls and a boy, bringing our total fostered dogs to 29 since 2002.  At 4-months-old, none of the puppies had ever been to a vet; they were all covered in burrs and what we would discover soon, hundreds of seed ticks; they all had worms, almost to the point of diarrhea, that were clearly visible in large numbers in their stools – even to the untrained eye; and they were disgustingly filthy.  They didn’t even have names!

Molly, Lilly, & Bacchus

The first several hours after we picked up our 3 foster pups, were spent driving from store to store to buy shampoo for the pups’ bath, dog food for their soon-to-be very late dinner, and toys that we hoped would make it easier for them to settle in.  Our plan was a simple one – take them home, feed them, grab some dinner ourselves, bathe them, and put them to bed.  But by the time we arrived home with these dirty, filthy, pups and unloaded them from the hot truck, it was 9:30 pm and we were exhausted.  The simple plan gave way to a simpler plan – feed them, feed our other foster dog, feed our dogs, feed ourselves, and put everybody to bed.  The pups were unceremoniously “dropped” into a single large airline crate in our family room, where they would be fine until morning.  There just isn’t room for a second crate in the bedroom where our dogs and foster dog, Trooper, sleep.

Lilly gets a bathSaturday, August 27, 2011, dawned and the sound of hungry puppies reminded us it wasn’t all just a dream.  Each of the foster homes got naming rights.  The two girls would become Molly and Lilly.  The little boy was named Bacchus, in honor of a golden retriever that we knew years ago that holds a special significance in our hearts.

Nanette & I married in 1993 and moved out of our apartment into our first home in December of the same year.  When we signed the papers indicating our intent to buy our home and making our offer official, the seller presented us with a bottle of wine with the words: “thank you” and “you can’t buy this in stores”.  After we had closed on the house, we had another opportunity to talk with the seller. We really enjoyed that bottle of wine, and wanted to know where to get more.  The seller introduced us to their “Wine Guy” – a local business owner who imports wine into the country from overseas wineries located in Germany, France, Hungary, and a few other European countries.

Soon after moving into the house, we were hosting our own wine sampling parties 3 to 4 times each year with the “Wine Guy”.  About this same time, Nanette & I started talking about getting a dog.  Nanette wanted a Samoyed – the breed her mother had had for many years.  I wanted a Golden Retriever, although I had never had one of my own; I grew up with strays and mutts in rural Michigan and Illinois.  By lucky happenstance, the Wine Guy also liked Golden Retrievers and offered to bring his dogs to one of our wine sampling parties.  We met his two Golden Retrievers – Bacchus and Achilles.  Bacchus was named for the Wine Guy’s profession in that the name “Bacchus” is the Roman God of wine.  Both dogs were beautiful and gentle, typical of the breed standard and AKC registered.  The Wine Guy introduced us to Achilles’ breeder – Helen & Bill Burt of Sho-Me Golden Farms – and we drove to Farmington, MO to meet them.

On Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, 1995, we spent several hours talking to and being interviewed by the Burts before writing a check for a Golden Retriever puppy that locked in our position on a waiting list for a puppy in Sho-Me Golden Farms’ next litter of puppies.  That litter was born in late November 1995 and Cody came home with us in January 1996 – complete with his own AKC registration papers.

In 2002 we started looking for a playmate for Cody and that search led us to Gateway Golden Retriever Rescue (GGRR) where we fostered and then adopted Jasper – a 9-week-old puppy, in 2003.  In the years since joining GGRR, we have fostered 29 dogs, and have only kept 2 of the golden retrievers – Jasper & Amos –that we fostered, for ourselves.

Two weeks ago, 3 unnamed golden retrievers “strutted” into our home and begged us for names, love, and attention.  Molly was named by GGRR’s President’s daughter – “She looks like a ‘Molly’ “, she said confidently.  Lilly was named for another golden retriever whom we fostered and was renamed to Lilly by her adoptive family.  Bacchus was named in honor of Bacchus, the Wine Guy’s golden retriever, who without whom we may never have met our dear, sweet, Cody (R.I.P.), joined GGRR, nor had this puppy to name.  Today, Bacchus and his littermates, Molly, Lilly, Mac, Jammers, and Biscuit have a brighter future because we were here to answer the phone: “Sure, we’ll take 3 or 4 of them.  In fact, if you cannot find anybody else to help foster them, we’ll take all 6!!”

Update: Since this was written, Trooper (now Cooper) became our third rescued golden retriever to call our home his forever home.  Molly, Lilly, and Bacchus (now Duke) all got adopted, and Molly’s new family left her to die in a hot car less than 6 months after her adoption.  This completely broke my heart.