The Who & Why
My long time yearning to wander off alone and traverse the wilderness, ala “Alexander Supertramp”, has collided with my recent desire to do something of consequence for others. The struggle to merge these conflicting motivations has been daunting.
I have always been drawn to the natural world. At a young age, maybe 7 or 8, I spent my days exploring and building forts in whatever wilderness area was available. I caught and admired every living thing that moved in my jungle environments. One of my earliest entrepreneurial efforts was supplying Johnny Weismuller (the original Tarzan) with a variety of animals that he needed for a wildlife zoo that he was building. My young reading list was filled with the likes of “Born Free”, “Call of the Wild”, “Swiss Family Robinson” and every animal catalog book that I could get my little paws on. Self-sufficiency and melding with nature had a strong and fulfilling magnetism that continues for me today.
And now, due to some life changing circumstances, I am going to hopefully fulfill a long-time dream. For 30 years, I have harbored a desire to travel the entirety of the Appalachian Trail. The iconic trail is 2,190 miles long and traverses the Eastern United States from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine. The opportunity to exist, experience and revel in natural surroundings for five months has me ecstatic.
I have worked hard for years to fulfill a variety of selfish and familial needs; houses, cars, vacations, braces, college
educations…..and I now feel deeply compelled to, somehow, give back to others. Having realized that desire for a cause, did not make it any easier to find that cause. I know that without the right goals, my efforts would eventually flag.
I did realize recently that I do have something precious to me that crosses that human/animal relationship bridge that is such a part of my life. Golden Retrievers. I have been hugely privileged to have spent the majority of my life in the company of these intelligent, compassionate, loyal and fun-loving creatures of God. Their sense of being and desire to please never ceases to amaze me or fail to make me smile. I have watched children become enthralled and engaged by a friendly Golden. Total strangers break free of their social constraints and want to touch and be a part of a new “Golden” friend. I have entered nursing homes with a Golden at heel and watched depressed, sullen people become animated and excited. It is a great feeling to be able to orchestrate that outpouring of positive energy from those that truly need it. And as an added bonus, the dogs truly enjoy the interaction.
It was not a light bulb moment, more a result of much beer addled pondering that lead me to the conclusion to combine two things that have become intrinsically part of my being; the natural world and Golden Retrievers. A five-month sojourn through the wilds of America coupled with a fundraiser for Goldens. A perfect solution combining two things that I care deeply about. Thru hikers on the Appalachian Trail take on “trail names” for some reason that I don’t truly understand. But none the less, I will be Golden Walker. And damn proud of it!!
The fund-raising efforts will be focused on the Golden Retriever Rescue of Mid-Florida (GRRMF). They have been supporting and caring for Goldens for 27 years. Sheltering abandoned Goldens and paying medical bills for Goldens in need just touches on all that they do for these noble dogs. Last year they entered more than 100 dogs into the program. The great duality of this effort is the benefit for the Goldens themselves and then the positive influence that they provide to people. These dogs, needing homes and medical attention, are given a wonderful future through the efforts of GRRMF. The adoptive families gain much in the way of a new loving and committed family member. Children’s schools for kids with disabilities, nursing homes, the VA hospital, assisted living facilities – all are a part of a network that benefits from visits from Golden Retriever therapy dogs.
So due to the efforts of GRRMF, the dogs as well as people, are the recipients of Golden Retriever magic. Bringing happiness to both ends of the leash. A win-win!