Dog retirement home destroyed by floods

By Andrea Slaydon

SPRING, Texas - A senior retirement community is being rebuilt after suffering major damage during Hurricane Harvey. But it's not what you might think. The home is not for people. It's for dogs - golden retrievers, to be exact.

Joshua Radliff manages and runs Golden Retriever Acres Senior Sanctuary (or GRASS) in Spring.

"In 2012, we were founded as a rescue sanctuary for golden retrievers that are seniors, abandoned, abused, owner surrendered," Radliff said. At the home, "they can live their lives out in peace and happiness."

"This place is heaven for older dogs. They are not in cages, they get to run free." said Kathy Billig with Golden Beginnings Rescue.

Kathy Billig works with a different rescue group called Golden Beginnings, which focuses on younger dogs. So the two groups often help each other with placements and other needs.

When the flood waters from Hurricane Harvey pounded the Houston area in late August 2017, GRASS was hit fast and hard by rising floodwaters.

"It was scary. The water rose so quick that by 11 in the morning, it was waist deep in this house," Radliff said. "We had all dogs brought to the front of the neighborhood and they were picked up by their fosters."

"I knew this area got really bad, but I didn't know how bad - you can see the line on the fence of how high it got," said volunteer Delaney Johnson with Cy Woods Paws Club.

Volunteers rushed in to help as soon as they heard about the damage done.

"The next day we came out here and just was ready to help Josh as much as we can," said volunteer Laura McLaughlin.

"When I heard about how bad it was, my family and I came down here," Johnson said. "We scrubbed the wood to get this place back up and running."

This home is a special place for dogs that might not otherwise get this chance.

"I think the fact that they take in older dogs and give them the chance to enjoy the rest of their lives is a great opportunity," McLaughlin said.

"A lot of older dogs end up in shelters, this is Eden for older dogs, it's great. It's a perfect setting," Billig said.

GRASS has a main house with eight bedrooms and a sprawling backyard, complete with several fire hydrants, and three log cabins outfitted just for dogs. The hope is to raise the cabins up three feet just in case another flood hits the area.

Two rooms in the house are dedicated to hospice care.

"Those are the ones we know will pass soon, so that way at any point I can keep an eye on them with the camera system that I have and I can be attending the passing," Radliff said.

They even created a memorial page to honor all those dogs that have gone over the so-called Rainbow Bridge. Radliff has dedicated his life to making sure these dogs know they are loved until the very end.

They even created a memorial page to honor all those dogs that have gone over the so-called Rainbow Bridge. Radliff has dedicated his life to making sure these dogs know they are loved until the very end.

"We will not allow a dog to pass alone. So, I am present during every one," Radliff tearfully said. "I deal with it often, but it's rewarding. Just knowing that dog had a golden year, golden month, weeks or days makes everything worth it. And when they are rehabilitated and re-homed and they find a forever home where they are loved and cared for, that is the most fulfilling feeling I have ever had."

Radliff confidently says the future at GRASS is bright - it's golden, actually.

"We have a saying here that grey is golden. Most of these dogs have had a grey beginning but they will have a golden ending."

Dogs at GRASS are also up for adoption anytime. Right now they are staying with foster families until the renovations are complete.

Go Fund Me account for GRASS

Amazon Smile Charity

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