Golden Retriever travels internationally to be with Atlantic Beach family

  • Maggie is a 16-month old Golden Retriever puppy rescued from poor living conditions in Turkey and placed with Lee and Leah Andrews of Atlantic Beach. (photo provided by the Andrews family)
    Maggie is a 16-month old Golden Retriever puppy rescued from poor living conditions in Turkey and placed with Lee and Leah Andrews of Atlantic Beach. (photo provided by the Andrews family)

When Lee and Leah Andrews of Atlantic Beach lost their beloved Golden Retriever last year, it left an empty space in their home and in their hearts. Recently, Leah decided it was finally time to welcome another furry member to the family and applied to foster or adopt a dog through a local rescue group. Just weeks later, she received some GREAT news.
The Andrews were matched with Indy, a 16-month old Golden Retriever puppy pulled from an overcrowded situation in Turkey by the GREAT (Golden Retriever Emergency Assistance Team) Rescue of Northeast Florida. Founded in 2000 by Judi Brown, GREAT Rescue has placed more than 1,000 Golden Retrievers in new, loving homes.
The not for profit organization is based in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area, and is affiliated with the Golden Retriever Club of America National Rescue Committee and a Best Friends Animal Society/No More Homeless Pets Network Partner. Team members work together to rescue Golden Retrievers from area shelters and other rescues in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. All adoptable dogs are heart worm negative, current on vaccinations, wormed, and spayed or neutered.
“Turkey has a real problem with strays. I didn’t know anything about it but my golden died a year ago so I just signed up to be a foster or adopt a Golden Retriever,” said Leah Andrews. “A few weeks later I got a call from Judi that said I have three goldens coming over from Turkey. Would you like to take Indy? I said, ‘I’m in.’”
Since arriving just shy of a month ago, Indy, now known as Maggie, has transitioned seamlessly into her new home. She has taken to car rides and beach walks, though she is still spooked when she catches a glimpse of her reflection in the window.
“When I picked her up, I put her in the back seat of the car and she just laid there. I don’t think she’d ever been in a car. She didn’t quite figure out that dogs were supposed to put their head out the window but that only took about three days,” laughed Andrews as she watched Maggie brave the pool for the first time. “It’s the first time I’ve seen her get in the water, so she’s figuring it all out. She loves the beach but she doesn’t like the waves. She’s obviously never seen that. But she’s extremely well-socialized and she wants to please.”
“Turkey Dogs” like Maggie are often live on the streets, in the forest of overcrowded situations with extremely poor conditions. Within a feral pack, Golden Retrievers are passive and must compete for food and water. Maggie only weighs 55 pounds, which is small for the breed.
“She’s a little food obsessed, but that makes sense. She was living in a hoarding situation so she’s obviously learned to be patient because she was with a bunch of dogs. She’s also anemic so whatever food she was getting wasn’t quality. A lot of them live in the forest and on the streets,” said Andrews. “The goldens don’t do well because they’re so docile. It’s not an aggressive breed. They end up in these shelter situations and they get what they get.”
The cost to transport each dog from Turkey to the United States is approximately $1,800 per dog for airfare.
“It costs a great deal. Anybody that would like to help us out with the fund-raising activities or donations, we would love to hear from you,” urged Brown.
Today, Maggie has a new lease on life. She was required to undergo a series of medical examinations in Turkey, Miami, and again in Orange Park before she was released to her new family. She continues to have follow-up visits to treat her anemia and ensure her ongoing health before she is officially adopted.
“She’s good. This is my fourth golden and she might be the best golden that I’ve ever had,” said Andrews. “She’s easy but she’s going to be spoiled. She’s figured out that CVS gives out treats. Now she realizes that the window goes down and treats come out.”
To sign up to foster or adopt a Golden Retriever or donate to GREAT Rescue of Northeast Florida, visit Checks can be mailed to GREAT Rescue of NE Florida, Inc., PO Box 600878 Jacksonville, Fla. 32260-0878.