Pure Gold by Holly Pfau

$25.00

'Adventures with Six Rescued Golden Retrievers' is the sub-title.

By Edell Schaefer of Golden Retriever News

Many of us can relate to Holli Pfau’s assertion that each of her dogs has led her down paths she would never have found without them. Sometimes those paths bring us life altering changes, and at other times simply amusing or reflective moments. Ms. Pfau brings us both in this inspiring and entertaining memoir of her involvement with rescued Golden Retrievers.

Time, like memory, ebbs and flows in this book and the reader neither knows nor cares about what year it is or the exact sequence of events. You become caught up in the dogs and the experiences. Holli starts with a search for her next dog, one to replace an aging Labrador mix, that leads her to a Golden Retriever Rescue group in Los Angeles. Through them she acquires “Nikki” – a puppy that was born with a cleft palate and neglected by her backyard breeder. Despite a difficult start in life, Nikki thrived on love and attention, and possessed a unique ability to make people (especially children) comfortable around her. It was through working with Nikki that Holli came to develop a passion for the human-animal bond, and volunteered with Canine Companions for Independence. Knowing only that she wanted to dedicate herself to working with therapy dogs, and that would mean giving up an eighteen-year career in marketing and advertising, Holli quit her job and pursued certification as a recreation therapist (a two-year curriculum at California State University). It was during her training, while taking Nikki to an Alzheimer’s care center, that Holli discovered how powerful the influence of a dog can be. Working with other volunteers, a pilot program was formed that attracted the attention of national news media. Holli’s vignettes about patients and fellow volunteers are always respectful and up-beat.

Many of us can also relate to the multiple dog factor – for many of us, there is no such thing as having just one Golden Retriever. After enjoying the interactions that took place between Nikki and the now deceased Lab “Casey,” Holli and her husband look for another Golden to add to their household, with an eye towards using that dog as a back-up for Nikki. Enter “Bodie,” a male puppy who believed in humor and good times. Nikki and Bodie were as different as night and day, and as Holli describes them: “Nik was a dog you could tell your troubles to, but Bodie was the one to party with.”

Towards the end of the book, Holli describes her adventures in agility, and an opportunity she had to attend a GRCA National Specialty where she watched the Parade of Rescue Dogs. While reflecting on the importance of rescue, and acknowledging the efforts of dedicated rescue volunteers, Holli makes a simple yet impactful statement” “These dogs weren’t competing in conformation, agility or obedience. They’d traveled from seven states to celebrate the most important achievement of all: survival.” Through the entire book the reader can’t help but notice the genuine love and respect Holli has for dogs and people. Each dog, each person is respected for their individuality. No complaints. No excuses. No griping.

Another memorable section involves “Chatter” who came to Holli via Jeanne von Barby (Elysian Golden Retrievers). Guaranteed, anyone who has met Jeanne will enjoy this part! There are many other memorable tales. Inevitably I have a favorite part to every book I read. For this one, it is the “conversation” between Holli and her dog “Daisy.” The dog-human conversation is about running an agility course. Daisy wants to know why Holli is so slow, and why she (Daisy) can’t get extra points for spinning around obstacles, jumping in ponds, or rolling in dirt. At the end of the conversation, Daisy asks Holli why she likes agility and she explains. In return, Holli asks Daisy why she enjoys doing agility. Daisy’s response still brings tears to my eyes: “Because you asked me to dance. And I said yes.”

This is a book to savor until the end, and then re-read.

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