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How to be Happily Retired

How to be Happily Retired

For nearly 26 years as a member of the California Highway Patrol I worked odd shifts, chased people, rolled around on the ground with suspects, and missed weekends and holidays with friends. It all came to an end when I retired. I had been programmed to be service oriented and make a difference, and now I suddenly found myself trying figure out how to make the most out of the rest of my life.

After retirement there are no more briefings, sirens, paperwork, fast cars, and worst of all, no adrenaline rush. What would I do?

For three years prior to my retirement, I became a volunteer at Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue. My former partner and I had decided to adopt Tucker, our second Golden Retriever, and I picked out the Charlie Brown Christmas tree of the dog world. He had kennel cough and was 20 pounds underweight. He was hooked up to IVs on and off for weeks, but he was the only one I wanted. I loved that dog! Each week we would go out to the rescue site to see if we could bring him home, and each week he had to stay a little longer. While visiting him we started to do chores around the ranch, and later became regular Saturday volunteers.

Once I retired, I started volunteering at the rescue during the week as well as on Saturdays. I became the Foster Coordinator and I still love to foster dogs in my home. I also became the person who photographed the dogs for the rescue website, which is challenging because dogs hate cameras pointed at them. My sickly boy, Tucker, turned out just fine and now he helps me train dogs at Homeward Bound during the week. Oddly, he is not a Golden Retriever per his DNA test. For people who know me, it is not odd that I would have him tested in the first place — investigation, investigation, investigation! It turns out he is a German Shepherd and Rottweiler mix, if you can believe it from his picture.

My purebred Golden Retriever, Casey, and I went through a year of training so that she and I could be an Animal Assisted Pet Therapy Team. It’s been an amazing experience helping people in this way. We started working at local hospitals, but we got the boot because she licked the patients too much. So we moved on to terrorize senior citizens a little older than myself at care facilities. We work with a volunteer group called Lend A Heart, visiting different places once or twice a week.

Although there’s no more chasing people and rolling around on the ground with suspects, working with rescue dogs and being part of Lend A Heart is a great way to move on with my life.

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