Goldstock: What 400 Golden Retrievers do for animal rescue

An annual gathering of hundreds of Golden Retrievers and their owners raises awareness and funds for rescue animals, as seen in the upcoming documentary 'Dog Camp.'

Every Labor Day weekend, hundreds of fun-loving campers from around the world gather at Camp Weequahic in Lakewood, Penn. for a weekend packed with games, swimming, and friendship. But these aren’t your average campers: for one thing, they’re dogs.  

Goldstock, which brings together hundreds of golden retrievers and their owners, is a yearly gathering that benefits and celebrates rescue dogs. The event was started in 1998 by Gail Lustig, a New York City dog-walker whose father built the camp in the 1950s. 

Since then, Goldstock has grown from its humble beginnings of 60 attendees to include campers and rescue groups from all over the world. Roughly 400 dogs and nearly 30 different rescue groups participated in Goldstock 2014, as well as many dog-less attendees who showed up to support the cause. 

“It’s emotional. It’s fun. It’s promoting rescue. It’s raising money,” Ms. Lustig says in the trailer for “Dog Camp,” an upcoming documentary film about Goldstock set to be released in November. “It’s really an indescribable weekend where so many things go on.” 

The 2015 calendar includes plenty of events for dogs and owners alike, including a “Doggy Olympics” competition, a rescue parade, and a baseball game for kids and their dogs. 

For humans in attendance, there’s a “yappy hour” gathering, a dog trivia competition, and even paw print nail art. 

Goldstock describes itself as “the most fun you can have with your dog and your dog can have with you,” but its purpose goes beyond just having a good time. Rescue organizations set up booths and sell golden-related items to fund-raise, and also receive all the proceeds from two auctions held over the course of the weekend. 

The event doesn’t just benefit dogs. Photographer Steve O’Byrne, who has attended Goldstock for several consecutive years, says spending time around so many rescue animals was therapeutic for him during his recovery after a motorcycle accident.

“Coming here and seeing and hearing what all the dogs have gone through … makes you realize that the problems aren’t so big,” O’Byrne said in a documentary interview.  

“You’ve got these dogs running around that have been abused in any way, shape or form, and they’re just happy. One leg, two legs, three legs…they get on through life. It gives me strength through watching them.”

O’Byrne is not the only human to learn life lessons from the mass gathering of goldens. Each year, Marty Harris and her three special needs sons drive 12 hours from Ohio for Goldstock. 

Harris says the event has taught her kids that all dogs deserve a chance at having a loving home and good medical care, and that a little bit of generosity can go a long way.

"At camp, the boys feel empowered and important, strong and able to make a difference,” Harris told the Huffington Post. “They are the future of rescue.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.