Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue
Lifetime Achievement Award
Many of you know that Susan Foster and I founded the Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue Program in MA in 1983. It became the first breed specific 501(c) (3) Rescue Program in the country. A year later Joy Viola joined us and together with an active Board of Directors we established the facility that is now known as Riverview in Hudson, MA. This beautiful mini estate situated on a magnificent river that flows peacefully through the forested acres surrounding it features a state of the art kennel facility and a heated and air conditioned training building, a large in the ground therapy pool, a separate senior living site within the kennel building, a home simulation room to help dogs learn about living in a house and for adoption interviews, multiple large grassy fenced in play yards and an onsite caretaker/kennel manager apartment. To visit it on line go to
This year at the Yankee Golden Retriever Breed Club’s Annual Meeting Susan, Joy and I were given a lifetime achievement award and life time membership in the Yankee Golden Retriever Breed Club, which is a member of the National Golden Retriever Club of America. The following is a segment from the award ceremony:
YANKEE GOLDEN RETRIEVER CLUB
Annual Meeting January
Report of the President, Donna Morgan
LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO JOAN PUGLIA.
Joan and Susan met in 1979 at a YGRC eye clinic. As I mentioned these ladies' lives have been intertwined for over 35 years. When they realized they lived within a couple of miles of each other, they became fast friends. Traveling to dog shows with their dogs to compete in obedience and breed, brought them a bit of success and lots of laughs!
As a YGRC member Joan was active in many club activities and served as columnist for the newsletter, as a member of the board and as Vice-President. She joined GRCA in 1978 and later, with Pagey Elliot's encouragement and sponsorship, she became a member of the Golden Retriever Club of England and was lucky to have imported a beautiful bitch from England.
When Joan presented to Susan her idea of forming a rescue organization in 1984, there were no handbooks or instruction manuals. There were a few
individuals around the country who did independent rehoming of golden retrievers, but there was not a single organized rescue program that had been
established for our breed.
Susan still doesn't know how Joan talked her into joining her on this mission . Joan had two children, ages 10 and 14, and she worked full time as an Early
Intervention Pediatric Nurse. Susan had 3 dogs and 4 children, ages 3 to 14 her full-time job. Somehow, she managed to convince Susan that with just a little hard work, a typewriter, a copier and some willing volunteers, YGRR could become a reality. Their kids still wonder if they cared more about the dogs than
they did about them, but Joan was right. Her leadership and unending positivity is what brought us to Riverview.
If you have had the opportunity to visit YGRR's home at Riverview; imagine what it was like in the very early years with no land, no buildings, no vehicles, no
employees, no hotline, no internet, no computers, no veterinarian, no Golden Goodies, no endowments, no
Fidelity accounts, no grants, little financial support and fewer than 20 active volunteers. YGRR now has a
state of the art facility that was Joan's vision from day one. There are now hundreds of volunteers who have contributed time, money, and energy along the way and know this was possible because they were inspired by Joan. She always said if there are more than two people in a room, you can have a
fund raiser! Just ask Joy Viola, fund raiser
Joan has been friends with Susan for 30 years. The reality is that there is no one Susan knows who has been more committed to the success of YGRR than Joan. She has a generous heart, not just for the dogs, but for her friends and colleagues. She has never expected anything in return for the countless
hours she has devoted to Rescue and has never put herself in the spotlight.
YGRR is without question the most effective program of its kind in the country and has inspired clubs and individuals to start rescue programs across the
country and Canada. In the 33 years since its inception, YGRR has faced many struggles and hardships. Joan & Susan rose above those adversities
by working together to find solutions. They are a great team!! Joan continues to this day with her nonstop fundraising to provide financial assistance to
rescue groups across the country for their senior Goldens in need.
A few years after my retirement from the YGRR Program in 2008,
I started working with other people interested in helping Golden Oldies receive appropriate care in Sanctuaries and other facilities nationwide. Feeling that the many years of experience in the field of rescue programming would enable us to organize a program that would best help other Rescues/ Sanctuaries fulfill their mission statement, (especially in regard to meeting short term care needs for Senior Rescue Goldens in need and also lifelong services for those who because of age or medical issues, would require life time care) the Golden Retriever Senior Rescue Sanctuary and Educational Center was formed. Today, GRSRS&EC stands strong and loyal to Golden Oldies coast-to-coast!