The rescue world has lost a powerful force and members of As Good as Gold mourn the passing of our beloved leader and Executive Director, Robin Sweeney. Robin was one of the founding members of As Good as Gold, an Illinois non-profit golden retriever rescue organization. Having been a volunteer with an earlier golden rescue, Robin and a team of dedicated golden lovers decided to take a more professional approach to dog rescue and focus their collective energy, compassion and leadership skills on building an improved experience for the dogs, leading them more effectively to safe, healthy and happy new lives. Since 2003 this initiative has resulted in the successful rescue of thousands of golden retrievers.
At six feet tall, Robin’s commanding stature, her deep reassuring voice and her experience as a dog trainer and behaviorist made her an ideal candidate to take the helm of the fledgling organization. As the group’s first president, she took on the dual responsibilities of Intake and Medical coordinator, evaluating the dogs that entered the program, assessing their medical status and providing valuable information that would ultimately lead the dogs to their forever homes. Her calming presence did wonders for goldens taking wary steps on the way to better lives and provided support for the numerous volunteers they encountered along the way. Robin always had time to meet a new dog, hear a sad tale of relinquishment and to formulate a plan to make things better. Her unflagging support for the team of volunteers who led the dogs to their new lives was legendary. No question by a concerned caregiver was insignificant. Robin was just a phone call away to dispense reassuring insights, regardless of the problem. Whether it was a medical or behavioral issue or simply the need for an infusion of good common sense, she took the time to be supportive.
From the early days of rolling up her sleeves and pitching in whenever and wherever her help was needed, from transports to assessments to countless hours working with vets across the state, in 2012 Robin transitioned from President of As Good as Gold to the newly formed position of Executive Director. While maintaining her medical and intake duties she expanded her range to include more focus on public relations, seeking new funding sources and grant opportunities as well as resources for improved healthcare for the dogs. Robin had always actively networked with other rescues and shelters to explore ways to leverage the As Good as Gold experience to help more dogs of all breeds and to learn from the successes of other groups. Every year she and a small team traveled to Best Friends Animal Society in Utah, considered the premier rescue and advocacy group in the country, to volunteer for a week of activities as mundane as cage cleaning and grooming in order to learn how to provide better care for As Good as Gold’s own canine charges. She championed the establishment of an annual Rescue Conference sponsored by As Good as Gold as an opportunity to share ideas and develop better ways to serve the every dog.
In her new position as Executive Director she redoubled her public relations efforts to expand the recognition of As Good as Gold as a leading rescue organization providing state of the art services to thousands of golden retrievers to date. With burgeoning healthcare costs, the search for funding was always top-of mind and as the face of the organization, Robin was always ready to get the story out and lend a patient ear to people who wanted talk about their own dogs, past and present. She often found that this self-styled grief counseling led to new homes for hard to place dogs, and many people opened their eyes to the idea of welcoming a struggling senior or an allergy ridden youngster as a result of their conversations with Robin.
Robin Sweeney’s contribution to As Good as Gold has been immense and its members, volunteers, donors and the golden retrievers she championed have all been impacted by her passion. She had a soft spot in her heart for the seniors, fought valiantly to bring better quality of life to dogs suffering from numerous afflictions and always gave a resigned sigh at the antics of the dogs she affectionately dubbed YAMs (young adult males!).
Robin will be sorely missed and it is our heartfelt wish that she has been joyously welcomed by the legions of goldens who have preceded her over the Rainbow Bridge, especially her own special heart dogs Mick, Lulu, and Elsa.