Family Life

Love Letter – A Dog Adoption Story from Charlie’s First Family

Our puppy Charlie trying to read his love letter!
Written by Rachael Sando

A couple of months ago, I was going through some of the paperwork that we received when we adopted Charlie from GRROWLS. We were hoping to discover more information about his lineage so that we could sign him up for the Morris Animal Foundation-Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of information about his Mom and Dad, but we did come across another gem while looking through his paperwork…a letter from his first owner (more on that in a minute).

Our new Puppy Charlie

We’ve shared a bit about Charlie’s dog adoption story before; he was surrendered to GRROWLS by an older couple who didn’t have the time and energy for an enthusiastic wiggle butt puppy. He then was placed with his foster Mom, Michelle, and her family for a couple of weeks while they looked for a forever home. It didn’t take long for us to find each other. Needless to say it was love at first sight.

Meeting our puppy during our GRROWLS interview

Our sweet boy came home with us in February 2014. To say that he completed our family would be an understatement. He has brought so much happiness and joy to our home and we love him to pieces.

Getting to know Charlie

It has been so much fun getting to know Charlie and his little quirks over the past few months!

Of course, as with any new addition to the family, there was a period of us getting to know Charlie and helping him to adjust to his new home and routines. It did not take long to discover lots of silly quirks about our sweet boy….(many of which he has not outgrown)

1. Couch Diving – Charlie felt comfortable getting on the couch right away. Sometimes he would puppy zoom across our large sectional couch, but most of the time, he was really careful getting on and off. With that sweet face, we just couldn’t say no!

Sweet Charlie napping on the coach and soaking up some sun

We soon discovered a very silly habit that we have since affectionately named “couch diving”. Couch diving involves sticking his head as far between the couch cushions as possible, searching for who knows what (usually socks)

2.  Speaking of Socks – This boy put ALL socks in his mouth. Known for leaving his socks around the house, Kev lost quite a few pairs in the early days. Even though Charlie loved/loves to steal socks, he never tried to make us chase him to retrieve them. He simply dropped them out of his mouth and accepted some lovin’ in exchange. 

3.  7am wake-up call – I am not kidding when I say that puppy Charlie was as accurate as an alarm clock. While good at staying in his bed at night, Charlie was wide awake pouncing on Kev and I at 7 o’clock on the dot! Zero exceptions!

Charlie is such a happy Golden Retriever

4.  De-activation switch – We learned early on that Charlie the crazy man could be zooming around the house wreaking havoc one minute and on his back with all 4 paws up a second later.

Charlie getting some belly rubs at Lollypop Farm's Barktober Fest

The secret? A de-activation switched, located on his soft, furry belly. How does it work? Just give it a rub and this boy stops moving and collapses at your feet!

5.  Twinkle Toes – Affectionately referred to as “tiny dancer”, Charlie just loved/loves to be on his back two legs; dancing, standing, and jumping on people! Though the standing and dancing is pretty adorable, we continue to work on reinforcing that good things happen when all 4 paws are on the ground!

Our cute little dancer Charlie is a pro at standing on two legs!

6.  Cuddle Bug – He was (and still is) THE SNUGGLIEST PUPPY EVER. This was such an amazing surprise for us, because Harley doesn’t let us snuggle him nearly as much as we would like to. We soon discovered that Charlie would lay in any position he was placed in for as long as you wanted him there. He loves nothing more than being our little “Velcro dog”. (we loveeee it too).

Rachael and adopted Puppy Charlie of

7.  Bunny Hops – He hops….Sideways, forward, doesn’t matter. This boy is so excited at all times! He can’t really be expected to walk to his final destination! How else would he let everyone else know how much he loved them?

Our Golden Retriever Charlie fetching a stick!

8.  Collecting small things – He LOVED to collect small things. You already know about this boy and his bees, but we discovered that this love for collecting went far beyond. Put several identical items next to each other and this boy must collect them all, in his mouth, at the same time!

Charlie is obsessed with collecting toys - especially his Kyjen Bees!

9.  Kill all things (plushie/stuffie) – Poor Harley…All of his favorite plushie toys had to be taken away when little Chucklie Duckles came home with us. If there is a weakness in a stuffed toy – consider it a goner, as in all stuffing will soon be gone. No weakness – he will make one. He is quite good at this.

Our dog Sticking his tongue out

Finding a Love Letter

As we got to know our little shrimpy boy, we fell further and further in love. He filled our heart and home with so much love and happiness, in ways that we couldn’t have envisioned when we first contacted GRROWLS about adopting.  Sometimes when we are snuggling Charlie, Kev and I wonder aloud how we ever could have ended up with this sweet, sweet boy as a part of our family.

Our puppy Charlie trying to read his love letter! A truly touching dog adoption story!

At first we had some trepidation…almost as if we were waiting for something to be wrong with Charlie. Even with the wonderful motivation for surrendering him, I think we wondered how his first family could have actually done it?

The answer, we figured out, was easy. Charlie’s first Mom and Dad, wherever and whoever they are, loved him so deeply, they knew he could have a better life.  This letter speaks of that love.

A touching letter from Charlie's first family

What do we love about this note?

We love that these silly habits were always his, even though we discovered them much later.

We love that he had special words for going on a car ride.

We love that someone cared enough to add just a few more comments, handwritten in the corner.

We love that he was cuddled and snuggled.

We love that he was so deeply loved and cared for.

We love the selfless people who wrote it.

Charlie holding his "instructions for use" letter from his adoption paperwork

 Mommy, I came with instructions but you didn’t read them! 

As our love for Charlie grows daily, so does our gratitude to the amazing people and organizations that brought him to us. Our life is blessed because of each and every one of you.

Charlie is one happy Golden Retriever

I will probably never stop saying it….. Thank you!

Thank you GRROWLS – You saw something in us, you chose us, I will never forget the phone call that matched us.

Thank you Michelle – For fostering our sweet boy. You selflessly open your home to so many animals in need, loving them as if they were your own, until they find their forever home.

Thank you to Charlie’s First Parents – We thank you for making this selfless choice. I hope that Charlie touched your life the way he has ours. He has completed our family. He is special. He is loved.

Sweet Charlie has been the perfect addition to our family!

As I sit here with two beautiful golden heads on my lap, kitties within reach, and my husband – building this blogging dream alongside me…my heart swells with love, I am blessed.

Kevin, Rachael, Harley and Charlie - of

About the author

Rachael Sando

Rachael is a School Psychologist with degrees from the University of Rochester and RIT. Though a lifelong dog lover, this passion has taken on a new direction through the utilization of therapy animals in her day job. Charlie, our Golden Retriever, works with Rachael as a school therapy dog in a local primary school where he brings comfort and support to students and staff on a daily basis.


  • Gosh we LOVE this post!!! There is nothing like a love between a dog and its owners but there is something extra special when it comes to goldens! We are so glad you found each other, these pictures say a thousand words. As for the alarm, our goldens wake up every single morning 5 minutes before it goes off. Yeah, its a good thing they’re so darn cute! Lol!

    • Thank you. It was an emotional post to write, but one that I had wanted to do for a while. One of the best things about the pet-blogging community is all the love everyone has for their dogs, cats, etc.

      We agree that there is something extra special about Goldens <3 ...and its not their alarm clock skills!

  • That’s really sweet. Sometimes you love an animal so much that you know letting them go is the best thing for them. Obviously Charlie was very well loved.

    Monty and Harlow

    • We agree Monty and Harlow and we are so thankful for his first mom and dad. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. We are thankful to have you as friends.

    • It nuts how much we love our furbabies, isn’t it Kelsie? Thanks for taking the time to share this post with us.

  • This is such a great post…. I can feel your love for your family and pets through your words. Brought tears to my eyes…. I have 3 Goldens now… Have had 5 pass away…. Love them all so much. Congratulations on your very happy golden family 🙂

    • Thank you Cristina. Goldens are sooo very special. I think I could love them all. I am so thankful for rescue organizations like GRROWLS who found Charlie for us! We are so very thankful to count you as one of our friends <3

    • Exactly <3 Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and share this post with us! We are thankful to be part of this wonderful pet community.

    • Thank you Rebekah. Even this post couldnt express our gratitude to all of the people who helped to bring Charlie to us. We feel lucky and blessed every single day. Thank you for sharing this post with us. <3

  • Great post! I loved reading about Charley and am so glad that you found him. It must have been hard for his original parents to give him up, but they knew what was best for him. So awesome that you found him!

    • We are so glad you found this post. We are so thankful to have Charlie as part of our lives. He is so special! <3

  • What a great story! Dash just had his 8th(!!!) gotcha day with us. He also came from an elderly couple who loved him but knew he needed a different home. Thank goodness for those that knew they’ve been outmatched and want to do the right thing.

    • When I was reading your post earlier, I was thinking about the parallels. We are so thankful for their selflessness. We love him so much!

  • This is paws down my fav post I’ve read in weeks and weeks. Just love it–the love shines through on so many levels. Thanks for sharing this, and also pointing out how great a gift it is to sometimes make the hard choice and give up a beloved pet.

    • Thank you Amy! I’m guessing it was indeed an impossible choice, but we are so blessed that they made it so selflessly.

  • Happy gotcha day for Charlie. That is so special to have that letter–I am sorry for his previous family that they had to give him up, but he sure did land in a wonderful home. We have rescued two goldens and one spaniel-mix, and would love to have had a letter from their first home. Although Brooks, the first golden we rescued, had been abandoned and on his own for quite some time before landing in the shelter and various rescue groups. Charlie is a lucky dog to have a life filled with love, and you are lucky to have Charlie!

  • Such a beautiful post from beginning to end. It’s so heartwarming that his previous owners loved him so much they wrote that letter; shows that they really had his best interests in mind. It’s such a happy ending for Charlie – he ended up in such a loving, wonderful home; with a family that loves him for what he really is – a happy, wiggly lovebug.

    • Charlie’s happy, fun-loving personality shows just how much he was loved in all of his homes. Someone else said, it takes a village! Thank you for your kind words Jen!

  • Such a beautiful, touching, and heartfelt post – Charlie is a lucky pup, and you are lucky to have Charlie in your life! Love is such a blessing – enjoy!

  • What a wonderful story. Charlie sounds like he has blessed so many people in his life. He reminds me in so many ways of my Reya. She will run once she has socks though! lol!

    • Ha! It sounds like Reya could teach Charlie a bad habit! 🙂 He has blessed so many people, just like Im sure Reya has!

  • This is such a sweet post! I love it. It’s no wonder you fell in love with Charlie. I think it is hilarious that he has a thing for socks – I had a cat once that was just in love with socks. It seems to me that you guys were always meant to be together 🙂

    • Thank you Robin! I love that your cat had a thing for socks too. Charlie loves cats, so Im sure they would have gotten along! Thank you for your kind words!

  • What a beautiful, uplifting post! Loved it! Charlie is so beautiful – a face to fall in love with!

  • What a wonderful story and what special people the first owners were to care so much for their dog to want to give him a better life. We think Charlie is adorable, and your photos capture his spirit. PS. We have a cat called Charlie, so we love the name too.

  • Thanks for a glimpse into Charlie’s early days. Beautiful!

    As much as I have adored him from afar, I do more now. You guys are so fortunate to have him (and he, you!)

  • This is SUCH a heartwarming post!! I just had to share it on Twitter…you two have quite the story to tell…I just love this! What a wonderful family Charlie came from…and like you said, it must have been such a difficult decision for his first family to make. But, I am very glad that they did…so that your family is now complete!

  • We live in the MidHudson Valley Region of NY, and have done home visits and reference checks for GRROWLS because they don’t have anyone else here in the Valley. Thank you for sharing this story

  • A wonderful story about Charlie! You must choose the right dog for you and your family, for the size of the house you live in, for the time you have to devote to the dog, and for the amount of money you can afford to spend on pet grooming. Failure to take into account the dog’s breed type, breed needs, and how the dog will fit into your life situation and family life increases the likelihood that you will need to relocate your dog.