Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue
rescue. rehab. adopt.
Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue

Rainbow Bridge - 2017

Our Rainbow Bridge pages have many tributes to the incredible animals we have loved and lost.

The loving tributes on these pages are stories of loyalty and compassion and of the rescued goldens who conquered their past lives, and came out the other side. Those dogs who have a heart icon are NRGRR dogs who crossed the Rainbow Bridge while they were still in our program.

We would be honored to post your tribute and photo of your NRGRR alumni here. Email your picture and story to:

Please consider a donation in memory of your loved one or one of our NRGRR dogs who never had the chance to find their forever homes. We will add the name of the person or pet to our memorials web page.  If you would prefer that your donation not listed, please choose the appropriate button during the check-out process in our store. NRGRR will also send a gift card to the family or a friend of the individual/pet you have honored with your donation.


As always, your gift will be used to directly support our rescue efforts.  Thank you.

Our precious boy, Sam (Achilles '09), received his Angel Wings on Dec 2, 2017 after a brief battle with an aggressive cancer. He fought with dignity and grace doing the best to beat this mean disease. It was an amazing journey that he took us on for the eight years we had him, experiencing him as he grew into the Golden boy he was born to be. We never traveled anywhere without our boy, traveling to quite a few states in his life. We want to thank Jennifer (our adoption coordinator), Katie (home visit), and Ellen and Rob (his Foster Parents), all who entrusted Sam to be with us. We always tell everyone that Sam picked us and he changed our lives forever. The house seems so empty now and we miss him dearly, we just hope that we will be able to live up to the legacy he left. Thanks again to NRGRR for rescuing him and entrusting us with such a wonderful, beautiful Golden!

Wonderful Lilly, (NRGRR alum Calla) recently passed away. Lilly was adopted as a failed foster in 2013 and joined her dog brother Fenway (also an NRGRR alum). Lilly moved from North Carolina to Utah in the summer of 2015 and enjoyed many outdoor adventures.; In November, at the age of 10, Lilly developed a slight cough and X-rays showed a mass in her lung. She was not a candidate for surgery as further testing had shown the cancer had spread.  Her decline was quite rapid and unexpected, but the cancer was affecting her ability to eat. Lilly was one of the most quirky golden retrievers out there, with a personality that could make anyone laugh. She will forever remain in her family's hearts as she joins her golden doggie brothers Fenway and Boone across the rainbow bridge.

Lulu Bell (Lady)

Lulu Belle, NRGRR Club Name Lady, died recently shortly after she turned 14. She was adopted six years ago. Her only goal in life, and the thing that gave her the greatest pleasure, was to be hugged. She didn't know how to play and actually would make her family roar with laughter watching her try to 'play' with Maxx (Club name Ensign) while he was still here.  Maybe that was what started her decline...losing him, because she was the one who had picked him.  Lu even knew it was his last weekend, and stayed close to him keeping her head on him. More likely though, her decline was the result of the T-Cell Lymphoma that she was diagnosed with in May of 2016.  Later she was diagnosed with neuropathy and last autumn with transitional cell carcinoma. From that time, her decline was rapid.

Regardless, Lu brought many, many years of smiles and laughter. Small children loved coming up to her and hugging her since she was so fluffy, and Lu just loved being hugged right back. She never just walked through the neighborhood; she pranced as a neighbor commented. Lu was every bit the Belle her original owner named her.

Maggie ( NRGRR alum Gilly14) passed away recently due to advanced lung cancer. She brought her family joy and kept them laughing to the very end of her life. Her family misses her terribly. They encourage everyone to adopt! Rescued pets seem to know how fortunate they are and are therefore extra loving and special.

The mother of a friend of NRGRR got Liam (NRGRR alum) about 4 months after her father passed away. The mother needed someone to talk to and someone to take care of. Liam was her support and her best friend for the year that they were together. He gave her many laughs, made her crazy with his stubbornness and provided the companionship she needed as she learned how to live without her husband. Liam loved to go for rides in the car, spend time at the dog park and go out to lunch together. Sadly, he was lost recently, but his last year was filled with purpose, and he was loved beyond measure.

Kodee ( NRGRR alum Night) was adopted in December, 2006. Kodee peacefully crossed the Rainbow Bridge recently. He was his person's best friend and a loving companion to the entire family. He gave more love than anyone deserves, and no one could ask for a sweeter, kinder, more lovable dog. To meet him was to fall in love with him, and he will be missed tremendously. Adopting was the best thing his family had ever done.

Sammie door

Sammie (NRGRR alum Acadia) changed her adopters' lives for the better when got her. She was the best dog ever, and they joked that she rescued them. She was a joy, and they can't imagine what their lives would have been without her.

Sammie recently passed away peacefully at home with the help of Dr. Betsy from Laps Of Love.

Crosby was an extremely sweet boy. He loved walks, sitting on laps, and every dog he ever met. He died suddenly of a brain aneurysm in the first block on his daily walk. He was only 5 1/2 years old. He died on the way to the vet and could not be revived. Crosby spent his first year in a cage. He was the father for an ill-fated breeding operation. When we got him at age 1 1/2 years he didn't know the word "walk", or recognize a leash, or like stuffed animals. All that changed within about six months. He was dearly loved and leaves a huge hole in his family's lives!

Cooper Watching The World Go By
Cooper recently passed away at thirteen. He was rescued from a shelter in Utah when he was two. He was a true retriever and loved carrying his backpack loaded on hikes or trips to the store. He made friends with the mail carrier and paper person as Cooper was always willing to carry items to the house. If you paid a visit you got a “guest” shoe as a gift. His family knows there is another Golden out there waiting to be loved but losing Cooper has been a trying time.

Kirby at NRGRR Reunion 2012

Kirby was a lost soul when he came into foster care in October 2008. He was a sickly little guy, but his fosters had faith he would survive. In January 2009 he was adopted by newly weds. It was love at first sight. Ghost grew on his fosters, and letting go was not easy, but they knew he was going home to love.

Kirby went to the “Rainbow Bridge” after a month of illness and vet treatments. Kirby let his loving family know his time had come.


Tahoe was recently put to rest, after a long walk (with many breaks), a car ride (his favorite), and a meal containing all his favorite things. His very last moment was comprised of a good head rub and one final piece of bacon for the journey home.

His person knows that for these last four years, they were both spoiled to have shared each other's company. He's gladdened to have had so much time to build memories and watch each other grow. He thanks everyone at NRGRR for making it possible for Tahoe to enter his life.

Sadie recently passed away. She had bad hips but after she lost weight and kept it around 53 lbs, she acted like a puppy. She and her family traveled a lot together to the beach. She played well with her cousins and liked all dogs, people and children. Recently it was apparent that Sadie was moving slower, breathing harder and not wagging her tail. The vet found the bad news: CANCER everywhere. It was time to say goodbye to my best friend in the world. She was the best dog ever and will always be in her family's heart. Sadie was going on 12 years.

Opie Xmas Card
In January 2013 a very skinny and sick dog joined our program as Frisco; he was a testament to the miracle that the good vet care, good food, and love NRGRR provides can make to a dog. He got a sister named Thelma Lu, enough food to eat, got better, grew fur, got rid of his heartworms, became Opie Blackwell, and got his picture taken so he could be on a Christmas Card for Neuse River. After a few years Thelma Lu left to go play Frisbee with the other good dogs at the Bridge and he got a new sister named Maggie and quickly became her minion. Thru the years he was his Mom’s best boy, her Dopieman, and always her Opielove.


Hunter went to Rainbow Bridge recently at age twelve. He left peacefully from home with the help of a caring veterinarian and accompanied by his loving parents. His collection of medical issues - arthritis, liver, stomach, cognition - and the pain they caused made helping his departure the only loving choice.

He was a joy to his family, friends and neighbors, for the three years he was with them. When school starts again, the neighborhood kids will miss saying hello on their way to and from the bus. And Ollie, the terrier next door, will miss their afternoon arf, arf-woof,woof challenge. Hunter wouldn’t chase tennis balls and he didn’t swim, but his heart and love were exactly what any Golden lover would expect. 

His family is extremely grateful to all at NRGRR for making their adoption of Hunter possible.

Galen was the first (of many) foster dogs for a NRGRR volunteer couple. He was five months old and at 3 months old had been found  along the road. He had been in the shelter for two months when he came in to NRGRR. His family immediately became "failed fosters" as they knew they could never let him go. Recently, with lots of tears, they had to finally let him go across the rainbow bridge at age 11. With curly hair, an interest in birds and a held-high tail, he probably didn't have much real golden in him except his color, spirit and temperament. He was a very happy dog who loved to meet other dogs and to play, puppy style, right up until the final months. He was felled by a large tumor on his lung which we only learned of 5 weeks ago. He leaves behind an older sister, Savannah, and very sad parents.

Sam Malone
Sam (NRGRR alum Obie) recently passed away due to sickness and old age. Sam came to his new family with double hip dysplasia and had to have his back hip joints removed at the NC State Vet School. In 2005 Sam had daily therapy to learn to walk on all four legs and until about a month ago had a very high quality of life. Sam grew up with three children and was an important member of his family. They miss him and will always remember him.

Buddha (NRGRR alum Tag) was adopted in 2012. Sadly, Buddha was euthanized recently after a 7-month battle with mast cell tumors. Five months of chemo kept the disease at bay, and fortunately Buddha was never really sick or in pain for even a day during that time. But the chemo was never quite able to eradicate the disease, and eventually the side-effects of long-term Prednisone and chemo began to impact his overall health. His treatments were stopped in March, and he continued to enjoy his life (with all possible pampering!) for the next two months. When he suddenly took a turn for the worse, Dr. Miller and the caring staff at VSH Cary helped him go peacefully. They were wonderful throughout his treatment, right up until that last day.

Roy Potrait 3

Roy has crossed the rainbow bridge at the age of 14.

During his time in the foster program, his foster nursed him to health, and they grew an inseparable bond. She tried hard to deny that he would become her permanent pup, but after taking him to multiple adoption events where he sandwiched himself between her legs, she remembers the Neuse River team giving her the blessing to make it official and adopt him.

They had the BEST 4-5 years. It was her most rewarding privilege to give him an ideal retirement. On his last day, named ‘Roy Day’, he had a day laying in the grass at a park, pancakes with dog treats inside and bacon. And most important to they all, endless time spent together.

In the end, he lost his mobility and had some other health issues. The team from CareFIrst Glenwood made the trip out to the house, and we all snuggled and loved on him as he peacefully crossed the rainbow bridge.


Dunkin (NRGRR alum Popkin) has gone over the rainbow bridge. Dunkin was diagnosed with epilepsy about 14 months ago and had fought it bravely. The seizures were down to about every five to six weeks with the help of the Neurological team at NC State.

He had multiple seizures on Memorial Day and was never quite the same. He started throwing up recently was taken to NC State Vet School for treatment. They diagnosed him with severe pancreatitis, and he was admitted. He was moved to ICU and later suffered a seizure and went into cardiac arrest. They performed CPR but were unable to bring him back. His family misses him and his unconditional love so very much. They would not have missed being his parents for anything in the world even though it hurts to have said goodbye to him so soon.


In 2012 an NRGRR volunteer went to an adoption event where she met this regal looking, amazingly sweet, seven year old Golden boy, Duncan. He had been used as a "stud", in a backyard breeding operation, and his owner no longer had any "use" for him so she wanted him gone. Luckily, NRGRR came to his rescue, and out of that backyard pen he came. She was a newbie at this whole dog rescue thing, and just felt incredibly lucky to be allowed to take him home with her.

He never, ever met a stranger; canine, feline, or human. His eternal happiness was his high. The countless fosters that came through her home were always able to accurately gauge his personality as they would become buddies in less than 24 hours. All our trips to yoga class, to favorite restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, trails, etc were always full of compliments about his sweet and friendly demeanor, and regal looks. You could take this guy EVERYWHERE!

His cancer diagnosis came a few days before his Golden sister's (Nina) death, and he became completely paralyzed less than 24 hours after Nina passed away. The bucket list items his Mom and he crossed off gave him much joy. The beach trips, ice cream, steaks, pizza, trail walks, park visits, restaurants....... there was a smile on his face. As long as he had a smile they would keep going for another day. Finally the dreaded moment came...


Boo (Dalton) was such a sweet, loving companion. He was rescued by the NRGRR in 2010 when he was found alone, badly injured, and neglected. He was in desperate need of multiple surgeries, heart worm and Ehrlichia treatment, and a lot of love. Boo's NRGRR foster mom was amazing. She cared for Boo during his nine months of recovery. Boo got a second chance at life, and he learned to trust again. She had been calling him Boo-Boo (because of all his boo-boo's), so his adopters thought it would be special to keep the name she gave him.

You would have never believed what he had been through. He had a slight limp, but otherwise he was a healthy, loving and trusting boy. He quickly took the role of pack-leader over the family's other golden, Comet, and they became the best of friends. They were jokingly called "the entertainment committee", because they always had the family cracking up. Boo loved to hug, and he taught Comet to hug too.

Boo was diagnosed with liver cancer in January. Luckily there were four more wonderful months with this special boy, after the six great years that he was part of the family. Boo recently crossed the rainbow bridge in the arms of his loving family, and with his golden sister, Comet, by his side.

Kotter was just shy of 14 and the best dog his family could ever ask for. He had cancer, and his back legs were no longer supporting him. He was adopted him when he was just three months old back in 2003. Every weekend he was taken to Duke's campus or gardens, his family centered their lives around him. They attended every rescue reunion and had the best time with their golden friends. When children became part of the family, Kotter never once complained of the kids pulling or riding on him or not getting a walk. He loved the kids and protected them. He has taught how to love unconditionally and will be missed, but never forgotten. His family thanks NRGRR for helping Kotter become part of the family and changing their lives for the better. He was the best dog they could have ever asked for.


Pagiel recently passed away due to liver cancer. She was one half of the bonded pair that her family affectionately called the “Golden Girls" and who were adopted in 2015.

The girls have quite a fan base around town and on social media. Once it was discovered that Pagiel had liver cancer in February of 2016, everyone constantly ask how Pagiel is doing. She responded pretty well to treatment at first. She had a full year of feeling good and won the hearts of everyone at VSH and Grace Park Animal Hospital.

Pagiel was an entertainer, and she never met a stranger. She had the best disposition of any dog ever! She was also in charge of security at the house and would lead the charge with her sister anytime anyone came to the door. This tiny girl made a huge impression on her owners. Even though they are devastated to have lost her, they feel very lucky that they had the opportunity to love Pagiel and appreciate her silliness and her talents.


Heidi passed away recently at age 14 due to bone cancer. She was adopted in the fall of 2009. She was afraid of a lot of things, but her family worked on trust, and she overcame much. She was so warm and always loved unconditionally. Words cannot express how much she was loved. Heidi received many compliments on what a beautiful dog she was.

Her family is grateful to Neuse River for allowing them eight wonderful years with such an outstanding dog.


Nina, the best buddy of a long-time NRGRR volunteer, passed away recently. Nina came to her new home as a puppy, and it didn't take Nina long to become the best dog ever. Soon the volunteer's father was flying in from out of town to see Nina, and sending her gifts for her birthday and Christmas. Friends' greetings were always followed by "how's Nina doing?"

The volunteer knew that she had the best four-legged companion anybody could ask for. She felt an immense sense of gratitude, because this "dog" had been by her side through countless adventures and major life events. Unfortunately the dreaded the day came when Nina was let go of her suffering. Rest in peace sweet Nina girl.

Sophie was adopted only about two years ago. But recently her back just gave out on her. Her vet said that there was very little chance for a good outcome from surgery. She could not walk and was in terrible pain before they began the medications. There was no apparent cause - no accident or anything. She was the absolute sweetest dog - everyone loved her. George (NRGRR 2008) will have to suffer another loss of a buddy.

Duncan passed over the Rainbow Bridge February 15, 2017. He was adopted in 2006, and he was 14 years old when he passed. He was the best, most lovable dog his family ever had the privilege to own. He was dearly loved.

Duke was about nine or ten when he was adopted from NRGRR. He was a sweet boy who loved everybody (except cats and squirrels). He actually caught a squirrel in the back yard one morning, and it didn't end well for Mr. Squirrel. Old dogs can definitely more pretty fast. Duke loved to ride in the car more than anything. He got really sick all within two or three days, and just gave out eleven days short of his fifteenth birthday. He is greatly missed.

Badger was adopted from NRGRR nearly 4 1/2 years ago at about 9 years of age. His family loved having him during his retirement years, and he brought joy to all those around him (including two cats). He was extremely gentle and well-mannered, and made a point to greet each person he met. Although his cancer progressed quickly during the last year he still loved his long walks and family time. His friendly face and the happiness he brought to all will always be remembered.

Jake (NRGRR alum Joseph) definitely was a lover. He loved everyone, even the family cat who barely tolerated him and his sister Golden (Petunia). He was happiest when going on long walks, checking out everything and everyone. He never met a stranger. When he started to slow down, it seemed the end was near. He got to the Outer Banks for one last week at the beach. Little did they know that he would cross to the Bridge two weeks later.

Gamble 7-23
Charlie (NRGRR alum Gamble) crossed Rainbow Bridge recently. It was sudden, but not entirely unexpected due to a history of cancer.
His family cannot express in words how much he has meant to them. He was the happiest little guy that they ever met, despite his decrepit and diseased body. They loved him very much. His family will keep adopting senior dogs, even though that is tough on the emotions every 2-3 years, but they wouldn't trade that time for anything.

Misty (NRGRR alum Lucy) recently died from cancer. Everyone who knew Misty called her the sweetest dog. She was the most "perfect" dog with impeccable manors and that loving golden heart. All her wonderful qualities let to her certification as a theory dog. She was a regular at Duke Hospital plus serving in a local school with reading pals and working with students with behavioral and attendance issues. But most important was her being a family member and a constant companion. It seems that every day she was thankful for being taken into a family.


Riley (club name "Jock") crossed over the rainbow bridge recently. He was estimated to be around 12 years old this year. He truly "lived the life of Riley" since he was adopted in 2008.

As Goldens are, Riley was a very loving and gentle soul wanting to hang out with his people. He was a "leaner" when next to you and always ready for a walk or games. He had the unusual trait of intently watching birds fly in the sky; so much so that might have been a bird in another life.


Sweet "Little Bit" (club name "Niamh") crossed Rainbow Bridge recently. NRGRR literally saved Little Bit's life and pulled her from a shelter in Goldsboro, July 2014. She was adopted by her foster family. She had been very neglected and was in very poor condition with multiple skin and ear infections, little hair, a cut tail and injuries to her rear leg and front paw. She required months of rehabilitation with medications, laser treatments, supplements, message, and special baths, etc. Once her personality began to shine during recovery, her family started calling her Little Bit because at 45+ pounds she was the most petite golden they had ever had.

Little Bit was initially aged at between 12 to 14 years so her family committed to making her last chapter the best - she even made the 2016 calendar! She was nothing but a gift of sweetness and joy. Despite her chronic medical issues, she lived in the moment - not wanting to be left out of anything. She and her big brother, Marley (fostered 2012 and adopted 2013), were inseparable and loved the beach, lake, trails and just hanging out on the deck. Marley sensed there was something different this time with Little Bit and was especially caring and tender with her these past weeks. Bella, an ornery female tabby cat, also loved Little Bit from day one.

Six weeks ago a lovely 16 year old Golden girl was surrendered to NRGRR by a family that could no longer care for her. Volunteers were in dismay when she shuffled into the lobby of local veterinarian and they wondered how to best provide for her. Fortunately a veteran volunteer and her family stepped up...the doggy version of foster home jackpot. Lucy spent her last weeks with treats, hugs, love, and cuddles galore; this morning her foster mother was with her when we had to say goodbye so Lucy could join all the other good dogs at the Rainbow Bridge.

Barney marked
Yogi (NRGRR alum Barney) was a a big (120 pound) golden from Wilson that was adopted nearly 8 1/2 years ago. He'd been slowing down lately, probably because he was between 12- 13 years old). When he became especially lethargic he people took him to his vet but by the time they arrived there he had passed. As a foster dog Yogi became a walking buddy to his people. That's how they knew they were going to keep him from the moment they brought him home to foster.

Caleb was adopted from NRGRR in 2009 as a puppy and unfortunately came back just a few weeks ago a very sick dog. We fought hard to fix Caleb, but in the end we knew that a bigger decision had to be made because his quality of life was suffering. His fosters gave time, love and compassion to Caleb in his final days. He was lucky enough to enjoy some very good days, swimming, walks and hanging with furry friends before we had to say goodbye. He was not alone when he passed.
NRGRR saved Caleb's life, not once but twice. It's why we always tell our dogs their lives are about to change forever.

heartAnnalise was rescued by NRGRR in 2014 from a shelter. She was so sick that she stayed with us as a permanent foster for two years. She was well loved by her foster family and everyone who met her.

Last year Shaila came in to our program, retired after eleven years as a breeding mom. Recently she was discovered to have inoperable lymphoma. The best option to keep her from further suffering was to let her sleep and cross the rainbow bridge. Her adopter reports, "the silver lining to this is that Shay and I both had the opportunity to love and positively impact each other's lives". Shaila had a safe and happy home for her golden years.


Petunia, adopted by a NRGRR volunteer, crossed the Bridge recently. She had a difficult time recovering from surgery but seemed to be doing OK. Her back legs weren't as strong as they had been. She tired easily, so walks were few and far between - and very short. She was spending almost all of her time in the family room with her head buried between the bookcase and wall - but came out for meals in a heartbeat. In the past couple of days, she had no real interest in eating. When her difficulties mounted, her family knew it was time, so holding her, they helped her cross the bridge.

Faeden 3-9-13
 Faeden was fostered and then adopted and renamed Sami. She recently crossed Rainbow bridge after she developed an aggressive cancer that was not operable. She lived 4 months after being diagnosed even though they only gave her 4-6 weeks. She definitely had a second dose of sweetness. She is greatly missed, especially her sister Isabella (now named Lily Grace) who was also adopted from NRGGR. Lily is still grieving.


Maggie ( NRGRR Peace 2013) went from an unsure girl to queen of the house; overseeing everything her family did! She was a constant companion and she adored children. So the children in the neighborhood fell in love with her, as did the grandchildren! She loved balls, car rides and swimming. And she loved her bedtime: urging everyone to the bedroom when she thought it was time.

Three years was not long enough to give her all she deserved. Arthritis got to her and in five months she was in a lot of pain. Her eyes said she'd had enough of pain and she was ready.


Buddy (NRGRR Boyd) recently crossed over the Rainbow Bridge after a cancer diagnosis. He loved his walks and going to the beach. He was a fixture at our golf tournament every summer. Buddy came to the rescue after he was found lost in a hurricane. He certainly found his perfect home after the storm.  We will sure miss this sweet boy.

Gandolph 5-5
Lady Gandolph crossed over the bridge recently. She had refused food and water for the several days so it was time. She was raised from a puppy by a loving family. They were in the military and could not take her overseas so, reluctantly, gave her up to us.  Initially she was adopted by a couple in Morehead City who already had another Golden.  After a few months, she was brought back to the program because the owner had a dog allergy and could only handle one dog.  Her initial foster leaped at the chance to take her in.  She and Oliver Darwin were adopted the same day and were best buds. She was a sweet girl right up until the end, a shining example of how much Olden Goldens can teach us about love and companionship.  Olden Goldens are the best!


Amber (NRGG alum Addie/Abby rescued in 2003) passed away recently at age 13. She suffered from arthritis, bone spurs, hip dysplasia, and angled tibial plateaus, in other words most every problem a purebred Golden can have. NCSU's veterinary school invited Amber to take part in a pain management study back in 2007. She did very well there, and she helped them get a better understanding of their drug and its uses.

She was happy and loved the outdoors as much as she loved her family and her canine siblings.


In 2003 Hoppa was adopted by a family in Morehead City, N.C. He was recently lost to cancer. His family is devastated but say that he had a wonderful life and brought them great joy.

Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue
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P.O. Box 37156 Raleigh • NC 27627 • Phone: 919-676-7144