Mom, Dad and two handsome, kind-hearted boys. Add a golden retriever plus a house with a big yard, a pool and lots of grass. That may sound like the ingredients for a perfect American family. But it just gets better. Mom, Shannon, is a pilot for US Airways. Dad, Dennis, is a flight crew training instructor for the Airbus aircraft – the same plane that Shannon flies.
Two remarkable young men make it an even better story. The boys are Benjamin, who turns 6 in September and Timothy, who turned 8 in July. They’re Cub Scouts who love Legos, Matchbox cars and golden retrievers.
For several years, Benjamin and Timothy have been enjoying a shared birthday bash in between their birthdays. This year, they asked for donations to Arizona Golden Retriever Connection (AZGRC.org) instead of gifts.
Why? Timothy said it’s because they have a Golden Retriever, Casey, who is really neat.
“Casey is a search and rescue golden,” Benjamin said. “We take her to training, we go camping and she goes on missions.”
They just got back from a training weekend. Timothy and Benjamin make their rounds walking and playing with the dogs when the dogs are not in training. They each had lots to say about some of Casey’s canine buddies.
Dennis, the boys’ father, originally got Casey to be his duck hunting partner but she liked to play with the ducks, not retrieve and release them. Sensing her keen desire to work and be rewarded, Dennis started working with her in search and rescue training. In addition to being a flight crew training instructor, Dennis is a Qualified Armed Posse Volunteer with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
Casey has two specialties: air scent training to track and trail a missing person and cadaver training to find a dead person. Now 11, Casey has celebrated several “saves” and “finds” and she shows no signs of slowing down.
“Casey is the only golden retriever on Dad’s search and rescue team,” Timothy said.
Shannon was flying on the day we met to learn more about the boys and why they opted to sacrifice the usual birthday gift bonanza and asked for donations to AZGRC.
“For the past 3 years they have decided to ask their friends and family to donate to a cause they enjoy instead of bringing gifts,” Shannon said in an email. “They are two very lucky boys who have a much greater need to help others than to receive another toy – and they know this.”
“This is the first time they have chosen Arizona Golden Retriever Connection but we have supported your organization for several years, purchasing your calendars and giving them as gifts. As a family, we truly believe in AZGRC, but have been thus far unable to foster or adopt one of your dogs,” Shannon explained.
About 30 kids and several adults attended Timothy and Benjamin’s July 23 party. There was a Lego piñata, complete with candy and Legos. They also held a prize contest to guess how many Legos were in a bucket (more than 900!) and enjoyed cake, goodies and lots of splashing in the pool.
Why did they choose AZGRC? “Because a lot of people don’t know about golden retrievers,” Benjamin said.
“We have a lot of toys already,” Timothy added.
Both boys seemed genuinely surprised that their generosity would be inspiring to others. It made perfect sense to them. And it makes perfect sense to the dogs who will benefit from Timothy and Benjamin’s generosity. To date, the boys have raised enough to microchip about 20 new intakes.