Part of being in the PADS family is the privilege of caring for the “retired” working PADS dogs.

Athens, our beautiful male Golden Retriever came to live with us in Salmon Arm, B.C. in 2011 at 9 years of age after he was retired from working and living in Vancouver as a physical assistance dog. His shoulder had been injured in a motor-vehicle accident and he was no longer able to continue in his active role of providing strength for pulling the wheel-chair as he really excelled in this area, along with a myriad of other helpful tasks.

Athens was our very first PADS dog and, although we had always raised Goldens for over 30 years, we did not know how much more enriched our lives would become upon his addition to our home. Most dogs like Athens are fortunate to have one demanding career but little did we realize that he was going to add another one to his curriculum vitae.

Since my occupation for the past 25 years has been teaching piano in my home-based music studio, Athens became the newest ambassador to this setting. His stoicism, gentle abiding personality and embracing nature quickly became his most wonderful attributes as he freely offered respite and comfort to the students after many a stressful day at school or other places. It was not uncommon to find someone sitting on the floor with Athens’ head resting in their lap, soaking up their distress and angst and in return offering them unconditional acceptance and love. The price – a mere stroking of his head, or a gentle rub behind the ears. Content that his “job” was done for that lesson he would unobtrusively soak up whatever music was being featured or listen attentively to the chatter of youths’ voices as they regaled their day’s activities.

Athens enjoyed a wonderfully rich retirement for just over 4 years with us. He contended with ever-increasing mobility challenges but his RRSP was rich in jaunts through nearby forests, occasional smoked knuckle bone treats, swimming in the creek, sated personal grooming moments, and engaging in comradery at his respite home, regular taunting of neighborhood squirrels and constant companionship of his kindred spirits.

Farewells are always difficult but Athens was telling us that it was his time to go. Being part of the PADS family in its rich tapestry of loving care-givers from the tender and mindful start of life during puppyhood through the working years with ongoing support and communication through difficult times to the twilight years of sensitive individualized care after such a demanding life are all vital parts of such a stellar organization in PADS!!

Thank you, Athens, for enriching our lives – it was truly a fair exchange of gifts!! The ripples of your life are indeed very good!!

We have recently entered a new chapter of retirement care. Each dog presents its unique gifts and personality traits and we treat each “retiree” with the respect and tenderness that is due to them whatever those challenges may be.


All PADS assistance dogs are provided to clients at no cost. Behind each and every success story is a donor who makes this possible.

Tell us your PADS story

We are still accepting stories for our 30 Stories for 30 Years series. Whether you have volunteered, received a dog as a client or adopter, given of your time, money or heart… you are part of the PADS story!  Tell us how being involved with PADS has impacted you.