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GRREAT's Forever Friends

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Amber Uslaner

We lost our lovely lady, Amber(GRREAT #00-227) on Friday, September 5, 2008.  Amber was a free spirit who loved nothing more that to “escape” occasionally and wander the neighborhood and sniff all the good smells.  She took a little unauthorized walk Friday afternoon and her body was found by the Humane Society.  Our wonderful, kind vet diagnosed internal organ failure.  She’d undergone surgery only four weeks earlier for two growths that both were benign and was doing so well, which makes this so sad.  Amber was much loved by all who knew her, wonderful with kids and she especially adored our son and his friends.  She had favorite places to spend time but just loved to be near and to nuzzle a hand to be petted.  Amber and I did a number of home visits for GRREAT and she was a worthy ambassador.  One visit I particularly remember was to a home with a child who had some special challenges.  Amber intuitively understood this child, and watching her respond to him was a revelation.  She had my undying love but also my respect for her innate kindness.  Amber was, like all Goldens, special.  She came to us aged four and half years old and she leaves us at the age of 12.   Debbie, Ric and Avery Uslaner 

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Gus Turek

Gus Turek, GRREAT ID 06-212, was the inspiration for the Forever Friends, and thus is known as our First Forever Friend.  He came to GRREAT in November 2006 and soon went to live with his forever family before Christmas.  The family had previously adopted two older GRREAT guys who each had spent just a few years with them.  Having given their hearts to older dogs twice in a row, the family decided to adopt a younger dog to spend more time with them.  Gus was a handsome five-year-old redhead whose amazing ears had hair that hung down at least three inches beyond his ears and looked like it had been crimped at the beauty salon.

Gus was a dog who loved to roughhouse and wrestle, and he had an amazing talent for getting three Kongs in his mouth at once.  Like all Goldens, Gus loved tennis balls.  Shortly after finding his forever home, Gus visited the family’s beach house for his first trip to the ocean.  He kept going to the sideboard in the dining room and looking up and barking.  Eventually, it was discovered that a tennis ball was hidden on top of the furniture among old dishes.  What a nose to go with his amazing ears!

A few months later in the Spring, Gus spent the morning outside in the yard with his family.  At lunchtime when everyone went inside for a break, Gus wandered into the kitchen and collapsed.  He was rushed to the emergency vet, but within a short time he was gone.  Gus had been stolen from his forever home by a fast moving cancer which had filled his spleen and lungs with hundreds of tiny tumors, despite having been given a clean bill of health just a few months before.

Gus’ family was stunned and heartbroken at their tragic loss.  They stowed the Kongs away and debated whether their hearts could handle another dog.  Despite the intense sadness, and perhaps because of the joy Gus had brought them, another GRREAT dog eventually found his way to Gus’s family.  Now Gus will always be remembered as the dog who inspired a fund to help other Golden Retrievers in their search for their loving forever families.

We would like to thank Gus’ owners Greg and Gail Turek for sharing Gus’ story, and also his foster family Bob and Lynda Lake for providing the regal picture of Gus.