It is with a very heavy heart that I am writing this to you Barb, as our best friend, Kobi passed away yesterday. She was our second Rolling Oaks Golden that we have been blessed with and she had just turned 12. She was given a diagnosis of bone cancer with a life expectancy of 2 to 6 months just over a year ago. Her vets were amazed at how well she held it together and my wife Kris, along with our children Kelly and Ryan, hoped that our strong love and care for her would somehow keep her going. We felt she just refused to give in to the cancer and she kept her wonderful loving disposition until her end.
Kirby our 1st golden from you was also a wonderful dog and she almost lived 14 years with us. Three of our friends also have had your puppies since we first got Kirby 26 years ago. Your operation has dramatically changed over the years as Kirby was born and raised in what I think was an old chicken coop.
Kobi had some very special gifts that I wanted to let you know about. When just a young puppy, we visited a co-workers family and Kobi was instantly a hit with their two daughters. Their severely autistic son Henry did not seem to even notice her on that first visit. Kobi was invited to return when she was about a year old. My wife Kris had her doubts about this as Kobi’s social skills were far from developed and she was worried about the wild autistic boy interacting with the wild golden retriever. I told Kris that I could handle her while I had Kobi on a leash. Of course, Kobi was very excited to greet every new person and especially children.
That is when the magic happened. Kobi spotted their son Henry and instantly calmed down and laid down right next to him. The autistic boy saw her, which was almost unbelievable according to his parents, and he laid down right next to Kobi. These two wild kids embraced each other and Kobi gave him a fond lick right on his head which was followed by the boy licking Kobi right back on her head. Then they just hugged each other. Henry had never shown any attention or much affection to anyone but his parents until then.
This remarkable encounter left me wondering how this had happened and I realized over time that Kobi just had a special gift that enabled her to sense a person’s acceptance of her and she would respond with the appropriate actions as she just wanted everyone to like her.
I suffered a brain tumor and a severe stroke at age 40 and retired at age 55 due to my disability. With extra time now available, I decided to donate my time as a volunteer. I also wanted to include Kobi in my new work so we took the TDI Therapy Dog test and we passed on our first try and the testers just beamed about what a wonderful dog she was. I wanted to go to Gillette Children’s Hospital but we were required to have a year of successful service first so we first volunteered at the Courage Center which we did and that was a very rewarding experience. A year later we were spending every Friday morning with the kid’s at Gillette. All I needed to do was ask Kobi if she wanted to “go see the kids” and she would run to the door and whine with eager anticipation.
We would then visit the kids; in their rooms, at their therapy sessions, in the hall ways, at the library. She would do all of her many tricks for groups of kids in the waiting rooms or wherever requested. My biggest contribution to the child dog love connection was driving the car to the hospital. Kobi did the real work and loved the Therapy Dog Life until we got the cancer diagnosis in March 2012, which forced us into retirement.
While volunteering at Gillette we met another golden that looked just like Kobi. It turned out to be another Rolling Oaks Golden and his name is Trooper and his handler is Becky. Trooper is a little more outgoing than Kobi and has a bit of a reputation for over exuberance, when a treat is in play.
So the good news is that your puppies have gone on in the world and they have impacted many people with their wonderful personalities, high intelligence and the unbelievable love that they share with their families and anyone that will pat them on the head and scratch their ears or rump. They are not perfect however as they do shed a little.
You may not get feedback on most of your puppies and I just wanted you to know what happened to Kobi and that the care you have given in their breeding and their start in life has resulted in wonderful dogs that have impacted the lives of many people and my family and I just wanted to say thank you very much.
Sincerely, Brad Nelson