A Golden Journey

This spring, Peluche, Bella, Raymond, Teddy, and Suzie went on an incredible 2,400-mile journey from Puerto Rico to Illinois. These travelers are sweet dogs: golden retrievers and golden mixes. Hearts of gold are evident in the people and organizations that arranged their journey to find new homes.

The story began with a simple meeting of friends. Jordan Antor, a veterinarian technician who works at a pet hospital in Illinois, decided to visit her friend, Liv Kismartoni, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, who lives in Sarasota, Florida. At one time, Dr. Liv resided in the Chicago area and practiced at the Woodstock Veterinary Clinic. During this time, As Good as Gold (AGaG) sought her expertise in the care of dogs coming into the rescue. After moving to Florida, Dr. Liv and several AGaG volunteers stayed in touch. While on the phone with Dr. Liv one day, Marlene Pedone, the AGaG Intake and Transport Coordinator, mentioned that there were dogs available in Puerto Rico, but that because of airline restrictions and fewer flights available as a result of the COVID19 pandemic, she wasn’t sure if the dogs would be able to get to the U.S. Dr. Liv and her friend, Jordan, talked, and a plan was forged.

Meanwhile, one-thousand miles away at Love Puerto Rico Golden Rescue, under the direction of Johanna Miller, five golden/golden mixes were being fostered as they waited for forever families. Here in the U.S. we may wonder why the dogs couldn’t be adopted by families in Puerto Rico. Actually, some are, as there are many golden retriever fans in the territory, but unfortunately because of a depressed economy, there simply are not enough families able to adopt the dogs. Because of a long-time relationship between AGaG and Love Puerto Rico Golden Rescue, these five goldens would be on their way to begin their new lives in the U.S.

Jordan, Bella, Peluche, and Dr. Liv heading to Sarasota after the dogs were picked up from the Miami airport May 13.

The plan conceived by Johanna, Dr. Liv, Jordan and Marlene begins in the early morning hours of Wednesday, May 13. Jordan and Dr. Liv left Sarasota and drove 230 miles to the Miami airport. There they met Bella, Peluche and Teddy who would be arriving on a direct flight from San Juan. The dogs rode back to Sarasota with Jordan and Dr. Liv for a good night’s sleep.

Friday, May 15, meant an early morning start for Raymond and Suzie; they had a 7 a.m. flight to catch at the San Juan, Puerto Rico airport and were required to be there three hours ahead of time. Dr. Liv and Jordan also had a busy morning. They rented a cargo van, loaded up Bella, Peluche, and Teddy and made the drive back to Miami to meet Suzie and Raymond when their flight arrived at 10 a.m. With all five dogs now together, the group was on their way! Destination: Lisle, Illinois, 1,400 miles away! Dr. Liv and Jordan took turns driving through the night, stopping multiple times to let the dogs out of their crates for breaks.

Raymond receives physical therapy after his surgery in Puerto Rico.

Saturday, May 16 meant a happy gathering at the Partners and Paws Veterinary Services parking lot in Lisle. The welcome group included Marlene Pedone and Elizabeth Sheaffer along with her sons, Jacob and Kyle. The Sheaffers would be fostering Suzie.  Four more AGaG foster families would be picking up Raymond, Bella, Teddy, and Peluche later in the day.

Anyone who loves animals can understand the “pawprint” that these beautiful dogs have left on the hearts of all the volunteers who have cared for them from their initial rescue in Puerto Rico to their foster homes in Illinois.

Johanna and her team cared for the five dogs from their initial rescue. One of the five dogs, Raymond, had been found on the side of the road and had apparently sustained a spinal injury, which made it necessary for him to drag his two rear legs. Raymond underwent spinal surgery in Puerto Rico thanks to the funding efforts of Love Puerto Rico Goldens. As Good as Gold assisted with some of the additional medical and physical therapy expenses later incurred during his recovery. When he left for the U.S., Johanna wrote of him: Certainly not every dog has this chance. Raymond has never perceived that he was a dog with an impediment, because he always proved that he could endure. The best is yet to come, and we love you, Raymond, and wish you a full life. There are many people who are praying for you.

Raymond - A Golden StoryToday, 8-year-old Raymond is living with his foster family. Foster mom, Jennifer Nowachek, writes that Raymond is a very sweet boy and loves people!  He’s content to be on his own, but much happier with a person near him, and will nudge for more touches.  He is not able to navigate steps, but doesn’t realize his limitations.  It’s evident that he’s a smart guy as he follows instructions quickly. Raymond loves plush toys and will playfully turn them away from foster mom hoping she will participate in play. Jennifer calls him a “total lovebug”!

Bella - A Golden StoryBella is 3 years old.  Foster mom, Laurie Retzer, says that Bella sniffs out everything! After perusing the house for a place she might like to rest, Bella tried out two dog beds and three people beds; she decided she liked the people beds the best!  She helps out around the house by picking up toys and piling them on top of Laurie’s bed! A true golden, Bella is happiest when she’s in the company of her human family.


Peluche - A Golden StoryPeluche is 4 years old. Being part Border collie, his goal is to herd his foster family-human and canine! Foster mom, Pia Gordon, says Peluche is very sweet and takes great strides to be a good houseguest. Along with great manners, Peluche displays his affection by constantly offering kisses to his foster family.



Teddy - A Golden StoryEight-year-old Teddy is very social and leans in looking for touching and attention. Foster mom, Karen Miller, says that his tail swishes almost nonstop. Retrieved balls and plush toys are placed right between her feet in joyous anticipation of playtime!



Suzie - A Golden StorySuzie is two years old and “. . . is so happy, it’s infectious,” says foster mom, Elizabeth Sheaffer. “She is such a sweet girl,” Elizabeth says. Suzie is enthused about taking walks and roaming the backyard. She enjoys kids, and the feeling must be mutual because Suzie can be found sleeping on son Kyle’s bed at night. Suzie’s furry foster sister, Lily, can be very choosey about her play companions, so Elizabeth is very impressed that Lily agreed to play with her the first day they were together! In fact, all the furry friends in the house, Lily, Gracie, Hope, and Suzie have been happily “hanging out” since their first day together. And, as of this writing, Suzie has been adopted and is now in her forever home!

Dr. Liv and Jordan gave of their time, their training, and especially their hearts to bring these five dogs safely to new lives. How do they feel now about the hours of driving, disrupted sleep, and changed vacation plans as a result of this effort? “It was a great trip! We would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Bella, Teddy, Raymond, Suzie, and Peluche felt the caring in your hearts, Jordan and Liv. Members of As Good as Gold and all of us who care so very much for goldens and all furry creatures want you to know that we appreciate your efforts. As Good as Gold is happy to announce that the board has approved Honorary Memberships to you both. Thank you for your kindness and devotion.

And most of all, a heartfelt welcome to Bella, Peluche, Suzie, Teddy, and Raymond!

Bella sits with Dr. Liv for a portion of the long drive.

Bella sits with Dr. Liv for a portion of the long drive.


Bella and Peluche take a time-out to stretch during the long drive from Miami to Lisle.

Bella and Peluche take a time-out to stretch during the long drive from Miami to Lisle.


Dr. Liv with Bella and Jordan with Peluche.

Dr. Liv with Bella and Jordan with Peluche.

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