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

Rusty 11-349
(Fostered in Vermillion, SD)

Sponsor Rusty

Sponsored by:

Mr. & Mrs. Chuck Stigen
"In memory of our Golden boy, Nitschke"


Rusty is a 14-year-old, purebred golden retriever and he is, without doubt, one of the gentlest dogs I've ever known. For the last few years, Rusty lived in an assisted living cottage where he provided comfort and companionship for the residents, their families and the staff. However, because he is slowing down, it became increasingly difficult for Rusty to avoid being run over by wheelchair bound residents. So the staff made the difficult decision to surrender Rusty to RAGOM, so that he can live out his golden years in a safer home. We are honored that Rusty has come to live with us and he seems happy to be here! Needless to say, Rusty is great with people of all ages and he gets along just fine with our three resident goldens, the cats, the bird and even the hamster!

Rusty appears to be in excellent health for such a senior gentleman. He is neutered, current on his vaccinations and has been on heartworm/flea and tick preventatives. Like many dogs his age, Rusty does have arthritis and takes Previcox for this. He has trouble with stairs and we worried that he could fall going down the three steps from our deck to the grass. So we set up a ramp and it works pretty well. Rusty uses it to go down and then he walks back up the stairs. Rusty really loves to walk with the pack, so that should help maintain his strength and mobility. He can walk surprisingly far as long as we go very slowly.

We will bring Rusty to the veterinarian for a routine check-up this week, but we don't foresee any problems. I just wish Dr. M. had a time machine so we could turn back the clock a few years for this lovely boy!


We took Rusty to see Dr. M. for his check-up and he passed with flying colors.  Dr. M. even asked if this dog was really 14 years old!  Rusty weighs 73 pounds and Dr. M. seemed happy with that.  Rusty may need a dental in the spring, so we will re-check his teeth early next year.

Rusty has adapted beautifully to the routine of our home and seems quite content.  The only minor glitch we ran into was the sleeping arrangements.  We initially had Rusty sleep on the first floor, since he has trouble with stairs.  He was fine with that for a few days and then he started barking during the night.  At first I thought he needed to go out, but then I wondered if he was just lonely.  So we started bringing him upstairs at night (carrying him up....thank you Brian!) so he could sleep in our bedroom and that did the trick!  It was pretty funny at first, because Rusty was just like Goldilocks...this bed is too hard...this bed is too soft (they are all the same!).  Eventually he chose a bed and has slept there ever since.  In the morning, Rusty comes down the stairs on his own.  I just stay in front of him and spot him.

As far as getting around, Rusty has improved quite a bit.  He doesn't use his ramp as often (mostly in the morning when he is stiff) and he's able to go faster and further on our walks. One day I let one of our residents off lead and she took off running.  Rusty looked at her and said "Me too!"  And this grand old dog started to run!  Actually run!  It only lasted about 30 seconds, but it was wonderful to see him so happy.

And last but not least, Rusty has the honor of being the first dog we've ever had who slept through Halloween!  He slept through three other goldens barking every time the doorbell rang and he slept through the sacred sorting of the candy on the kitchen table.  Now that's a calm dog!

All seniors! RAGOM Hupi, RAGOM Rusty, Lili, and RAGOM Dylan


Our sweet Sir Rusty is still doing very well.  And just when we thought we had seen all of his fancy moves, Rusty surprised us with another one of his "Me too!" moments.  One day when I let the dogs out, our resident Dylan got really excited about a passing dog and decided to do a flying leap off of the deck.  Before I could even say anything, Rusty was flying through the air and then more Rusty.  I was afraid to look for fear of finding Rusty out cold on the ground.  But when I peeked over the side of the deck, he was standing there with a huge grin on his face!  Rusty's lesson of the day:  Never, ever underestimate a senior!!

Rusty would like to thank Teddy for the very generous donation and wish everyone a happy, healthy holiday season.

I'm as young as I feel!

Ahhh....the primo dog bed.


For Rusty 11-349 From Teddy (fka Hawkeye) For Rusty 11-349 From Teddy (fka Hawkeye)

Merry Christmas from Katie Augustine Merry Christmas from Katie A

Happy Holidays from anonymous Happy Holidays from anonymous


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Rusty 11-349!


Rusty would like to thank Katie A. and his anonymous benefactor for their generous donations!


Sir Rusty is still doing very well here at Golden Manor.  He had a routine dental in January, so his teeth look great and his breath is positively sweet-smelling (for a dog).  Rusty still loves his walks and gets so excited when it's time to go.  When he sees me getting the leashes out, he stands behind the front door and does a little "hopping bark".  It's so cute....every time he barks, his front paws do a little bunny hop.  He still manages the ramp and deck stairs pretty well.  The only minor change we've noticed is on very cold or icy days, he's reluctant to come up the stairs. So he stands at the bottom of the stairs and barks for assistance!  All he usually needs is a little moral support.  If one of us holds his collar, he comes up the stairs just fine.  And like many senior dogs, Rusty likes to sleep and he's often hard to wake up...especially in the evening when it's time for last call.  He responds best when he hears the other dogs barking, so I decided to train our senior girl, Hupi, to wake up Rusty for me.  When it's time to go out, I tell Hupi to "wake up Rusty" and she starts barking at him.  It works great, though we haven't quite perfected the "you can stop barking now" part!

Lili and Rusty...two peas in a pod!


Happy belated birthday Rusty!  Rusty turned 15 years young on April 3 and he's doing incredibly well for such a senior gentleman.  He still loves to walk, though perhaps there's a bit more stopping to smell the roses lately.  And we have to help him a little more with getting on and off the deck.  He can be wobbly, so we line him up at the top of the ramp and then let him go.  It's kind of like bowling....we always try for a strike, but we do get an occasional gutter ball!   But all in all, Rusty is happy and healthy and thoroughly enjoying his golden years.

Rusty and Lili....just a corner will do!

RAGOM Dylan, RAGOM Hupi, RAGOM Rusty and Lili


 Happy 15th Birthday Rusty! Matt and Jenessa K.  Happy 15th Birthday Rusty! Matt and Jenessa K.



I would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Chuck Stigen for sponsoring Rusty. Please accept our heartfelt condolences on the loss of your beloved Nitschke.

I would also like to thank Matt and Jenessa K. for their warm wishes and donation in honor of Rusty's 15th birthday.


Rusty is still doing amazingly well!  The only minor health issue that's developed is a dry, crusty nose.  Dr. M. said that this is common in older dogs, so he prescribed EnteDerm ointment.  Rusty absolutely hates it, so I have to sneak it on his nose while he's asleep.  Fortunately Rusty is a very sound sleeper!   His nose looks much better now.  Once the EnteDerm is finished, we'll keep his nose moist with good old fashioned A+D diaper rash ointment (without zinc).  

Nose trouble aside, Rusty hasn't changed a whole lot over the last few months.  He's slowed down a bit and probably has a little more trouble with gravity.  He likes to sit on his pillow while eating and he needs help coming up his ramp now.  But overall Rusty is still a happy-go-lucky dog!  He loves to eat, he loves to sniff, and as you can see from the photos....he apparently loves Lili!

I love you, Lili

Such a handsome fellow

Why stand when you can sit on a pillow

Waiting for his mobility assistance human


With all the hot weather we had this summer, I really wanted to take Rusty swimming. But there was no way he could manage the steep banks of the Vermillion River where the other dogs swim. Then one day I was watching him go down his ramp and I realized that was exactly what we needed...a ramp into the water. So after a bit of searching, I found a ramp on the Missouri River that is perfect for launching boats and geriatric golden retrievers. The first time I brought Rusty out there, I had no idea how he would react or whether he could even swim. But as you can see from the photos, he had a pretty good time! He can even swim pretty well, though I always keep a hand on his collar for safety. In fact, he probably swims better than he walks right now. The buoyancy of the water must feel good....taking the weight off those arthritic joints. So now that we know where to go, hopefully we can take Rusty out for a little "hydrotherapy" every now and again to help keep him moving. Maybe Santa will even bring Rusty a dog life jacket for Christmas this year!

Foster mom, Rusty and Lili

Rusty can swim!

I can do those regal calendar poses too!


Christmas came early for Sir Rusty this year!  Two very kind and generous RAGOM supporters read about how much Rusty enjoyed swimming and offered to buy him a dog life jacket!  As soon as the life jacket arrived, I put it on Rusty and it fit perfectly.  My husband said Rusty looks like he joined the Coast Guard, but I think he looks very handsome.  When we took Rusty back to the Missouri River for his first swim with his life jacket, I was amazed at the transformation.  Once Rusty figured out that he could float, he wanted to stay in the river a lot longer.  He chased sticks, tried to eat the floating leaves, and paddled after Miss Lili.  Rusty even walked right off the dock into the water!  While swimming with his life vest, Rusty gets to turn back the clock a bit and enjoy a freedom of movement that doesn't come easily on dry land anymore.  And since we had such mild fall weather, we were able to take Rusty swimming almost every weekend.  It just warms my heart to see seniors enjoy life!

Admiral Rusty

Outward hound!


Rusty would like to wish everyone a peaceful holiday season.

On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen and ...Rusty?


Merry Christmas Happy Holidays from Kathy M and Otis!

Merry Christmas to the Golden Seniors! From Anonymous Merry Christmas to the Golden Seniors! From Anonymous

Merry Christmas Merry Christmas to the sweetest senior guy! -From Kathy G.


Rusty would like to extend a very belated "thank you" to Kathy M. and Otis, Kathy G., and his anonymous benefactor for their holiday greetings and generous donations.

Our sweet Rusty is still doing well, though he is slowing down a bit.  His walks are pretty short now...just a few houses down the street and back and the sniff/walk ratio is going up.  He's also starting to have more trouble getting around on tricky surfaces like hardwood floors, but that is easily solved by keeping him in the carpeted areas of the house.

Rusty went for his annual vet visit on Valentine's Day. The good news is that all of his blood work was normal, which is remarkable for a golden retriever who will be 16 years old in April.  However, about two months ago my husband and I noticed that Rusty sometimes walked in clockwise circles.  At the time, he only did it once in a while so we weren't sure it was anything to worry about.  But this behavior has progressed to the point that he does it almost every time he goes outside.  So the "not-so-good" news is that the most likely cause is a benign brain tumor.  So far, circling is the only symptom and we're keeping our fingers (and paws) crossed that the tumor doesn't cause more serious problems. 

Valentine's Day Sweethearts - Rusty & Lili


Happy birthday Rusty!  Rusty turned 16 years old on April 3 and enjoyed a gourmet beef and ocean fish cake with Greek yogurt frosting!!  The birthday boy would like to thank all of his fans for such wonderful birthday wishes.  I read them all to him last night and I'm sure he could feel the love!

Beef and fish cake with yogurt frosting




Up until about a week ago, Rusty was still doing pretty well for such a senior dog. But in the last week or so, Rusty started having a lot more trouble getting around. For the most part, he could no longer get up on his own. Even after we helped him up, he could only take a few wobbly steps. We loved Rusty too much to see him struggle, so we decided to let him go to the Rainbow Bridge while he still had his dignity. Friday, May 24 was such a beautiful day, so Rusty and I spent much of the afternoon just sitting in the grass together. We decided that this was no time to worry about diets, so we nibbled on cheese and cookies to our heart's content. When it was time to go to the vet, we stopped at Dairy Queen and Rusty ate a whole dish of vanilla ice cream. As I watched him lick his bowl and spoon and sticky paws, I thought how Rusty looked so much like a puppy again.....experiencing the pure joy of discovering something new and wonderful. I can't think of a finer way to spend one's last moments.

Oh Rusty, how we miss you. Lili has been carrying around one of her stuffies almost constantly since you've been gone. And Lucky the kitten misses her snuggle buddy. You have touched each member of our family and you will live on in our hearts and memories. We love you, Rusty.