Coping with the death of an animal friend can be one of life's most painful experiences.
In 2000, when my wife, Kay, and I lost our golden retriever of 12 years, Moggie II, we made the decision to never again bond with a pet dog.
Moggie II and his predecessor, Moggie, had given us such unconditional love and acceptance we didn't want to ever again go through the agony of watching a beloved pet die.
Five years after Moggie II's death, however, we mulled over the idea of adopting another golden retriever. Kay had just retired and would be at home full time to care for the dog.
We decided, however, not to buy a golden retriever from a pet store or a breeder -- there is already an overpopulation problem. We wanted to open our home to a dog in need just as we had when our sons, Gerry and Ryan, rescued Moggie II from a Phoenix animal pound.
To help us find just the right dog, we turned to a wonderful organization, Rescue a Golden of Arizona, that has been rescuing dogs since 1998.
It is a volunteer, nonprofit group that rescues unwanted golden retrievers and places them up for adoption. The group is based in Phoenix, but it's a statewide organization with volunteers scattered around the state.
Only days after inquiring on Rescue a Golden of Arizona's website, I received a call from Sam Morey, a Cottonwood-area member of the group. A day later, Sam -- an enthusiastic member of Rescue a Golden -- visited our Pine home to evaluate our ability to care for a dog.
Following his visit, I jokingly told coworkers at the Roundup I could adopt a child, get inside the Pentagon and secure the highest national security clearance easier than I could adopt a dog.
But that's the way it should be.
Sam and others in Rescue a Golden are adamant about not placing a dog in a home where he or she won't be well cared for.
Not long after Sam's visit, we received a call from him saying a 4-year-old golden had been abandoned near Sedona and had been in a local pound before being turned over to him for foster care.
Kay and I drove to Cottonwood. Sam was just returning from a visit to the veterinarian who said the dog was in good condition and ready for adoption.
It didn't take long for us to decide we wanted to make the dog a part of our family.
Moggie III is now in our home as a foster dog awaiting completion of the adoption process.
He is an energetic, intelligent affectionate dog and, like all goldens, loves to please.
Our sincere thanks to Sam and all the other devoted volunteers at Rescue a Golden of Arizona for helping us find Moggie III.
Their unwavering commitment to finding new and permanent homes for abandoned dogs, strays or ones from abusive environments is one of life's most commendable missions.
For Rescue a Golden to continue, it is in dire need of members, dedicated volunteers, more foster homes, gifts and donations.
"We can't do the work without more help," Sam said.
To become a member, make a donation, or help rescue a golden, log on to the website www.golden-retriever.org.
It's time to step up, the animal rescue community needs our help.