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Anya Finds Her Smile

“A simple smile. That’s the start of opening your heart.”
– Dalai Lama

A year ago, Anya was in a cage at a commercial breeding auction, up for sale to the highest bidder. She was terrified and suffering from a potentially deadly infection.

But what a difference a day can make.


Anya was nervous of new people when first rescued.

With funds provided by Friends of Flicka, Retrieve a Golden of the Midwest (RAGOM) was able to rescue Anya. Her life was instantly transformed – she was no longer a commodity.

After arriving in her foster home, Anya underwent surgery for pyometra, a severe infection of the uterus which can be fatal if not treated. The surgery was a difficult one, but Anya was in the best of hands. Her loving foster mom gave her wonderful care to ensure she was comfortable and healthy.

When she recovered, it was time to work on healing her spirit. Although she was shy and fearful, Anya had a smile that could light up the world.

Anya’s foster family included two resident dogs. Her foster sister Nicole had also been rescued from commercial breeding life and was a wonderful mentor for her. Nicole taught her about the comfort of a good couch and how you can climb up and nestle your way in for a few snuggles, even when it’s a little crowded. Foster brother Paddy had a playful spirit to help bring Anya out of her shell.


She did it! Anya gives cuddling on the couch a try.

In the months ahead, Anya made huge strides. She mastered new skills and soon became more comfortable with new experiences, sights, and sounds. She also began to trust and understand that humans can be loving and kind. Each day brought new opportunities. She loved going on walks and playing with new dogs she met, and she discovered a fondness for string cheese and classical music. Slowly, she began to greet new people she encountered.

As she gained confidence in her new world, Anya’s joyful personality emerged, and she flashed her beautiful smile more and more often.

In August, Anya turned 7 years old. This birthday was quite different from any other she’d experienced in her previous life. She spent the day soaking up love from her foster family who held a party for her. She played with her dog friends, and even sampled ice cream.

A few months later, Anya was adopted by a permanent family. With pride and heartache, her foster mom let her go, knowing it was the perfect home for her.

Now called Annie, she has two dog siblings to mentor her, share her love, and be her companions. Shep, the elder dog, was also once a commercial breeding rescue, and Troop, a younger dog, is also a wonderful playmate. Her family’s experience with Shep prepared them for Annie’s occasional fearfulness. They ensured her transition to her new family went smoothly, and before long she was joyfully running through the yard, chasing squirrels with Troop. She discovered a love for toys, and playfully borrows them from the other dogs.


Shep and Annie


Troop and Annie

A year ago, Annie could never have imagined the life or the love she has now. Sometimes, when she’s receiving lots of attention, she flashes a special, very funny smile, as if expressing disbelief that so much love could all be directed at her.

Love from those who love her – a simple thing that helped Annie find her smile.