Retrieve a Golden of Minnesota: RAGOM is a 501(c)(3) organization, rescuing Golden Retrievers and re-homing them through adoption since 1985. Serving Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Adopted Dogs

Rest in Peace

Harley 09-035
(Fostered in Cedar Falls, Iowa)

Sponsor Harley

Sponsored by:

Judith Cummings

Charles Driver


 Johnson family                    Judith Cummings

The LeTourneau Fur-Kids - in memory of our Fur-Angels

 Shayna M.

Tonight we picked up Harley who was surrendered to RAGOM by a wonderful family.  He is 6 years old.  Unfortunately, Harley has a spindle cell tumor* on his foot that will require amputation of the leg to ensure it does not spread to the rest of his body.  It is not possible to remove just the tumor and the area around it because of its location between two digits on his paw.  At this point, it has not spread, so the surgery will take place as soon as possible.

This dog is wonderful.  He is loving, and loves to give kisses.  He met our other dogs without incident and doesn't mind the cats.  No accidents and now he is taking a little nap.  The one thing you must know about this boy is that he is BIG!  He weighs between 95-100 pounds, so he does have weight to lose.  We will work on that by feeding him some green beans so he is full but not getting excess calories.  Even when he gets down to a more ideal weight, he is still going to be a tall or big dog.  He can rest his chin on our kitchen table. 

He is a great dog for sure.  Check back for updates as we work with him through his surgery!  
*Some additional information on spindle cell tumors:

Above:  The tumor on Harley's paw.


Well, tomorrow is the big day for Harley!  He goes in at 8am for his amputation and we will pick him up on Monday.  We sure are going to miss him.  I don't know who is going to snuggle with me all night.  I will send in an update as soon as he makes it home to let everyone know how he is doing. 
To Harley's sponsor, Judith:  Thank you so much for your generous sponsorship of Harley.  People like you make it possible for RAGOM to help so many dogs with medical needs.  You are a true blessing!  We will give Harley a big kiss from you when we drop him off in the morning.  Thanks again for sponsoring him!


Just got word from the vet that Harley came through his amputation surgery with flying colors. He is on pain medication and doing lots of sleeping for today. Our vet is open 7 days a week so he will have lots of company this weekend. They took the leg at the hip which means they did not have to cut through any bone which makes it a much less painful procedure. They anticipate he will be 100% in 10 days. We look forward to seeing him Monday and look forward to speaking with people interested in adopting him. Here is what we think Harley would like in a new home:

* Someone who is home the majority of the time. He is very much a people dog!

* Another dog to keep him company while his people are gone.

* He is fine with cats

* Good with kids

* Someone who is willing to keep his weight down to make it easier on his one back leg.

More updates when he makes it home on Monday.


Harley made it home today from his amputation.  He is doing OK considering what he is going through.  More updates as he continues his recovery...


Harley has had some complications with his amputation and has had to spend some extra time at the vet. He is doing well and we expect him to come home this week. He decided he should pull out all of his stitches/staples even with the cone on! He also developed some sores on his remaining hind leg that are being treated as well. He is getting around very well and we look forward to seeing him soon. More updates when he makes it home!


Harley made it home today and is doing wonderfully! He has his hind foot wrapped to protect a sore but that will be coming off soon. He is eating well, walking wonderfully, and snuggling with the best of them. He even decided he wanted to lay on the sofa and jumped up there himself. He gets along great with all dogs, kids, and cats and is going to be a wonderful dog for someone.

If interested, let your placement advisor know! More updates and photos to come. One thing we do know is he is a house dog and loves his people! Don't miss out on this wonderful boy!


Well, Harley continues to struggle with some things but is just as happy as they come.  Last week, he had an allergic reaction to one of his medications and was throwing up for hours.  A trip to the vet made him feel much better.  Also, he now has to be on a prescription dog food.  He startles very easily and when he does, he gets sick.  :O( 

His amputation has healed beautifully (see below) and he is getting around like a real champ!  He went to Petsmart yesterday and wouldn't lie down.  Needless to say, after 3 hours of "meet and greets," he was pretty tired! 

We noticed that he has what appears to be a staph infection on his leg and chest.  We will get that and a bright green discharge coming from his eye looked at tomorrow.  His remaining hind leg has a horrible sore on it which is why it is wrapped.  It is healing well and should be healed completely in a week or so.  Through all of this, Harley is still happy as a clam! 

Due to how easily he is startled, he will do best in a home with a fence and another dog.  We have not seen him play but he sure looks like he wants to.  He really loves his people!  Check out the new photos below!

Last but not least, Harley wants to send a big THANK YOU to his new sponsor, Charles Driver!  Your sponsorship will help greatly with Harley's recovery.  Thank you for being such a wonderful person and sponsoring Harley!

This is the one time I laid down all day! :O)

Flashing everyone a big smile!

This is what three hours at Petsmart does to us boys!

New hind leg photo!  It looks so much better!


We think Harley snuck to the library when we were gone the other night and checked out, "How to be a Dog."  :O)

Yesterday, I could hear a ruckus in the living room.  This normally means the dogs have gotten out of control with their playing.  As I approached, I noticed it was Harley!  He had Sam pinned down on the living room floor and boy, they were having a great time!  When Harley saw me, he stopped and ran over to me with a big grin on his face.  I could just see the excitement in his eyes!  Then, he turned around, grabbed a bone, and began to chew on it.

Don't get me wrong:  Harley probably knows how to be a dog!  It is just that we haven't seen these behaviors from him before.  They're also a good sign because they mean he must be feeling pretty good!  One more bandage change for the sore on his leg and Harley should be good to go.  More updates to come!


Well, FM and FD just got back from a weekend out of town for a wedding.  Harley spent the weekend with RAGOM fosters/adopters, Kim and Bruce, and their two RAGOM dogs, Ginger and Jackson.  He did wonderfully and had an amazing time as you will by the new photos!  Harley is back to 100%!  Thank you, Kim and Bruce, for taking such good care of this sweetie!


Here's an update from Kim and Bruce who watched Harley over the weekend.  Sounds like he was a great houseguest:

We had the pleasure of having Harley at our house this weekend while his FM and FD were gone for a wedding.  From start to finish he was the easiest houseguest ever!  When I picked him up, he jumped right into the van with me and traveled happily the 15 miles to our house.  He re-met our two dogs, Ginger (07-404) and Jackson (08-442), with no problems and settled into our routine without a hitch.  He ate well, slept well on the floor next to our bed, and got around well, even with our hardwood and tile floors.  He loved being outside, going between the house and our barn with the other dogs.  He also came immediately when called and negotiated the three gradual levels of our deck well. 

Harley is one of the sweetest, most cuddly, laid back dogs ever.  He likes to be where the action is and followed us around the house.  He found many comfortable spots on the rugs we had put out for better traction.  He even managed to sneak up on the couch next to me before I realized what he was doing!  It was pretty cute.  I think he was just tired of seeing our two dogs get up there and wanted to get in on the action. 

Based on our time with Harley, I think he would love to live with at least one other dog.  By the end of his stay he was kissing our dogs enthusiastically.  There wasn't much play, but I think that would have come in another day or two.  He would do especially well with carpet or area rugs for getting around, but we were amazed at how he was able to adapt to the hard surface floors at our house.  Harley does do some whining when someone leaves the house, but he quiets down quickly.  I'm sure his dream come true (like most dogs!) would be having someone at home to hang out with.  

Don't pass up this great boy!  Even though Harley's been through a lot since the first of the year, he is cheerful and loving.  He's getting around really well on three legs and this will only get better over time as his remaining back leg continues to strengthen.  He is a strong boy and is already compensating with the strength he has in his chest and front legs. He has developed his own rhythm for running and ran down the hill from our house to the barn.  He's probably not a candidate for someone who wants a dog that can run miles and miles, but he can certainly have an active and interactive life with his forever family.  He's very shrewd - he seems to know when it's time to take a break and rest up.  And how best to maneuver around the other dogs.  He seemed to know instinctively that it was best for him to wait for our dogs to run out the door first to give him room to make his way out comfortably.  We'll be following Harley and keeping our fingers crossed that he finds his forever family very soon!  Enjoy the photos (posted above)!  :)


Harley has made a full recovery!  He has even started running with the dogs in the backyard.  He is still a major people dog but has really started to enjoy being with other dogs.  He gives lots of kisses and will play from time to time.  He is not fond of someone taking his toys away but is good with giving warning signs.  I don't think there is a mean bone in this boy's body.  This weekend, we welcomed Hope, our previous foster, back for a visit and Harley met her with nothing but kisses.  They don't come any sweeter!


Harley here!  I'm checking in to let everyone know that I am doing well!  I spend more time outside these days, exploring the yard since I have built up so much muscle in my remaining back leg.  I am just a normal dog don't ya know?  Even though I am short one leg, I think I have one paw up on my foster brothers and sisters.   It seems like I always get the ball from FD!  No complaining here!

On another note, I heard FM talking today and it turns out that my best girl, Brooklyn 08-589, crossed the bridge. She was such a cool girl and we loved each other from first meeting.  She was so very sick from heart worm that did damage to her kidneys. I know we have all heard it before but this seems like a good time to remind everyone how very important it is to give us pooches a heartworm pill each month! It keeps us healthy and with you for many years.

To Brooklyn:  It was great to spend time with you at foster grandma's and see you go from a dog with horrible heartworm to a spunky, goofy girl.  Run and play at the bridge until we are all with you again someday.  We loved you dearly.

Brooklyn 08-589 (crossed the Rainbow Bridge on April 25, 2009) and Harley
Brooklyn 08-589 (crossed the Rainbow Bridge on April 25, 2009) and Harley


As fosters we see a lot of different things with the dogs we take in.  Our foster family likes to help those with extra special needs like Harley.  He is now 100% recovered from his amputation and getting around like a champ!

Unfortunately, with Harley we have had to go through something we have never had to go through with any dog.  Harley has begun to have seizures.  He had one tonight which makes this his third one.  Right now, the pattern is every 5 days.  He is currently starting medication for them.  At the end of the month, we will re-check his thyroid and see how the levels are.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that it is a thyroid problem causing the seizures.  So far, he has only been on the medication 3 days, getting a loading dose.  Tomorrow, he will go down to a normal dose every night. 

The good thing is that he LOVES the medication.  It is liquid that we put on his food and it is REALLY beef scented and flavored.  So that makes things much easier.  He only has one seizure at a time and we hope to get it under control as soon as possible.  We will keep you posted on his progress.

I would like to thank Harley's sponsors, Judith and Charles.  His ongoing medical care is possible because of people like you.  Thank you from the bottom of this foster's heart for your help in making him well.  Harley and I will forever be grateful!


Harley spent this weekend with foster grandma after a short stay at the campground.  All the slippery floors in the camper and the narrow steps going in and out really took their toll on him.  The good news is that he has not had a seizure for more than week.  This is good because before they were coming every 5 days on the dot.  He is such a lover, and it makes us so happy to see the medication working for him!  He goes back for a check-up at the end of the month and we will update then!  In the meantime, here is a photo of Harley and me from a few weeks back when I was very sick and had been in the emergency room.  He is a loyal and loving dog for sure.

Sweet Harley comforts his ill Foster Mom


Harley has been seizure free since May 19th which is fantastic!  He is facing one other problem - some weakness in his remaining back leg.  We are trying some medicine to see if we can get rid of the inflammation he could be having.  He has been taking it for 4 days and it seems to be helping.  This guy is so fun and loveable.  He doesn't always think before he does things (heck, we are all guilty of that) but at least he does take slipping or falling in stride.  He is one handsome fellow who would love to find his forever home.  For those who worry about the cost of medication for a dog who has seizures, it is very manageable at only $15.00 a month!  Don't pass up this handsome, loving, loyal boy!!!


Harley is doing well.  Last night he decided that he knew how to "speak."  If you say "What?" he barks!  He is a funny guy!  He loves to flop down for belly rubs, loves to chew on bones, and loves to run around the yard.  Since we now know exactly the kind of family Harley needs I thought I would pass that along:

  • Harley needs another dog.  He doesn't like being left alone and is not destructive at all when he is but would be happiest with another dog.
  • Harley needs a home with A LOT of carpet.  He still gets carried away from time to time and slips and falls.  He doesn't even realize he lost his leg and acts like he still has four.  Telling him to "slow down" reminds him to take it a little easier.
  • Harley needs a home with a fence as being on a tie out does not really work for him.  The tie out gets wrapped around his back leg and causes him to fall.
  • Harley is fine with or without cats but if your home does have cats he will go to great lengths to get to cat boxes so they need to be stashed away.
  • Harley's medication to keep his seizure free (which he has been for more than 2 months) is only $15.00 per month and he loves the taste so there is no battle to get him to take it.  It is a liquid that squirts on his food.
  • Harley loves his people so he would be happy in a home where people are home quite a bit.  We took him to the campground to visit my family this weekend and once everyone was sitting down he plopped down and enjoyed the night.
  • Harley is a big strong dog so he would do best in a home that didn't have babies or toddlers.  He would never hurt a fly but he could very easily knock them over trying to get petted or running by.

If you think Harley might be a good fit for your family, please email your placement advisor!  I will send some new photos in from our camping trip soon!


Some new photos of Harley visiting my aunt camping - what dog doesn't want marshmallows?


Harley is still as happy as can be although he has a had a few tough weeks.  We noticed a few weeks ago he was unable to control his tongue.  Therefore, he was having a very difficult time eating.  He was seen in Ames and what could be wrong was narrowed down to some kind of nerve damage/problem in his head, a tumor of some kind, or nothing at all - just something odd that occurred with no explanation.  At this point, our only option is treating symptoms with prednisone.  We will keep everyone posted on how he does.  Thanks again to his wonderful sponsors - we tell him often about Judith and Charles who have made a wonderful donation to RAGOM just for him!  He always gives me kisses when I tell him so he knows how wonderful you are!  Thanks again!  More updates to come soon!


Well, we have taken Harley off the prednisone he was on after suffering some kind of temporary nerve problem about a month ago.  Since coming off the prednisone, he has been OK.  The muscle wasting he has going on in his head is becoming more and more noticeable.  The golden bump on the top of his head is very obvious and the muscle mass in his cheeks has been lost as well.  We do not have a cause for this muscle wasting but it is not causing him any kind of pain or discomfort.  He seems to be happy and as of late, he has been very vocal about when he is ready for dinner and ready to go outside.  One big wall shaking "woof" that seems to even startle him and we know it's time!  He is getting around pretty well on his hind leg but still needs a few things in his potential forever home:

  • All carpeted floors - if there are floors of wood or linoleum, you'll need a lot of rugs so he has a path he can go on in which he won't slip and fall
  • Another dog or two - Harley has separation anxiety if he does not have other dogs to show him it is okay to be without his people
  • Someone willing to cover the cost of his medication and food - For his seizures, the medication is 15.00/month.  The anti inflammatory/pain medication to make it easier for him to get around on one back leg is about 20.00/month.  He also eats a sensitive stomach prescription food.

Harley seems to appreciate every little touch someone gives him.  He enjoys having his belly rubbed and since his amputation, laying down is not graceful but it does the job!  He has earned the new nickname, "Mr. Flops-a-lot" because of the way he lays down! :O)  He is a blessing and a testament to the fact that we should all live our lives like dogs – day by day and not letting what problems we have change our outlook on life.  Smell the flowers, nap often, and give lots of kisses!


Harley continues to do well. We have found the best way to make it easier for him to get around is to have him on a small dose of pain medication. It seems to be just enough to help him out and he is moving like a champ. He has decided he sleeps on the bed regardless of who else is there ad moving the big lug is no easy task, so he usually wins. Nothing like free heat! :O) He has also discovered his voice and lets you know when it's time to eat or go out. He seems to have this internal alarm clock and now has the whole crew in on it too! He is one funny guy!


Woof! Woof! I thought I would stop by the RAGOM website to see what was going on and noticed all these pretty red and green triangles on all the dogs' pictures - so of course I had to check it out!

Thank you SOOO much Johnson family for donating to RAGOM and choosing me! I am blushing even though you cannot tell through my red fur! :O) If your family has children make sure you give them an extra kiss from me this Christmas!!

Also, Judith thank you for donating again towards my care - I am starting to think you might have a little crush on me and I think that's GRRReat because I really love you for thinking of me again!!

Charles - you are the Man! I can tell you are one cool dude even though I have not met you but do hope to someday! Thanks so much for sponsoring me!

You are all so very wonderful and I hope your holidays are filled with joy and love like mine will be, thanks to all of you!!!! Sending sloppy kisses from Iowa!


As a foster mom you want to do anything you can to see your foster dog happy. While Harley is always a happy-go-lucky guy, I just moments ago witnessed him the happiest I have ever seen him. It is snowing something fierce here (6 inches so far) so I went out to shovel a spot in the yard for everyone to go potty. When I opened the door Harley was the first one out and I watched in amazement as he bounded through the snow like a cheetah! His lips and ears were straight back and it was like he was running on air! I tried to take photos but the snowflakes cover up anything in the background :O( He finally came back inside looking like a powdered donut and in seconds was fast asleep at my feet. Who knew the one thing most people in the midwest fear (a blizzard) would make this big guy so happy!


Harley is having a great time in all the snow we have here in Iowa!  He is not fond of the cold we have had here as of late.  We have had to put socks and boots on his feet(only have 2 boots) for him to go out because if we don't by the time he potties he is laying in the snow unable to get up because his feet are so cold!  Poor guy!  He doesn't mind wearing them outside at all and it makes him much happier.  He will stay out longer making snow angels with them on but no one is allowed to stay out too long in this weather.  He is still seizure free and a big ole love bug!!



We have always been the foster home to want to help dogs with medical problems so when Harley was in need of a foster to help him through a leg amputation we didn't think twice. Upon arriving to pick up Harley we found a beautiful dog who was loved to death by a wonderful family. In the almost one year Harley was with us he faced problem after problem but like a golden he was nothing but happy! A few days ago Harley began getting sick and just didn't seem like himself. Today an Xray showed something in his belly and exploratory surgery was done to remove whatever it might be. As a foster mom you feel horrible because your foster dog has to undergo (another) surgery from eating something in your home. It turned out Harley had not eaten anything he shouldn't have at all. Food was what was in his stomach because cancer of the intestinal wall, bile duct, and pancreatic duct had caused a tear in the intestine and everything was leaking into his abdomen. With no way to repair it and only a life expectancy of a few days due to the infection it would have caused we decided not to wake Harley up and instead let him go to the bridge without any suffering. The thought crossed my mind to wake him and spend one more day with him to let him know how much he was loved but that would have been selfish and with the opportunity to let him go peacefully we knew there was no choice to be made.

Harley was a very needy dog - probably more so than all the dogs we have had combined so him not being here is so very obvious. He was my sleeping partner, the one who waited outside the bathroom door each morning as I got ready for work, and the one who would walk me to the door as I left in the morning. Hearing dog claws on the kitchen floor is sad without the funny noise only 3 legs of claws make. Nothing made Harley happier than snow so it was fitting that today it snowed and the tree branches were covered with fresh snow making it a very beautiful day. Sometimes we wonder how one amazing dog is dealt a horrible hand in life but I can say this amazing dog wouldn't have thought he had been. He had a love for life and showed it until he hopped out of the room for surgery this morning.

I want to say thank you Harley's family for thinking of him and letting him come into RAGOM a year ago. The way he touched our lives cannot be expressed in words. You raised one wonderful boy!

Thank you to his sponsors - without you it would be very difficult to address the medical needs of dogs like Harley.

Thank you to everyone who opens their home to pets of all kinds. Losing them is one of the worst things to experience but the impact they leave makes it all worthwhile. I have attached a poem I send when people lose a pet. Hopefully this foster family will find comfort in it as well.

And finally, a thank you to you Harley Bear. Thank you for being a wonderful companion for the last year. You touched many lives in your short 8 years here. You now have all four legs and can run like you so loved to do. Please welcome all other RAGOM dogs at the bridge the way you did when a new dog came into our home and know that someday we will be with you again. We love you so very much. Goodbye sweet Harley Bear.


I Stood By Your Bed Last Night 
I stood by your bed last night, I came to have a peep. I could see
That you were crying, You found it hard to sleep.

I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear, "It's me, I
Haven't left you, I'm well, I'm fine, I'm here."

I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the tea, You
Were thinking of the many times, your hands reached down to me.

I was with you at the shops today, Your arms were getting sore.
I longed to take your parcels, I wish I could do more.

I was with you at my grave today, You tend it with such care.
I want to reassure you, that I'm not lying there.

I walked with you towards the house, as you fumbled for your key.
I gently put my paw on you, I smiled and said "it's me."

You looked so very tired, and sank into a chair.
I tried so hard to let you know, that I was standing there.

It's possible for me to be so near you everyday.
To say to you with certainty, "I never went away."

You sat there very quietly, then smiled, I think you knew, in the
Stillness of that evening, I was very close to you.

The day is over... I smile and watch you yawning and say "good-
Night, God bless, I'll see you in the morning."

And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide,
I'll rush across to greet you and we'll stand, side by side.

I have so many things to show you, there is so much for you to see.
Be patient, live your journey out ... Then come home to be with me.