Forever Friends

Lab Rescue of Greater Richmond (LRGR) saves furry friends from all over.

They’ve given countless people hope, laughter and unbounded love – often without asking for much in return apart from an occasional snack or belly rub.

Dogs are truly a human’s best friend. But while many have great homes and families, there are others who have been neglected or abandoned. This is why nonprofit organizations like Lab Rescue of Greater Richmond (LRGR) were created.

LRGR was founded in 2006 after there was a realization that Central Virginia needed more of a local refuge for Labrador Retrievers – a breed perfect for the River City thanks to their adventurous spirit, strong curiosity and affectionate nature.

The group is primarily a regional rescue, but they have saved labs from the Carolinas, West Virginia and even sometimes as far away as Texas.

“We prioritize overcrowded shelters as well as kill shelters mostly here in Virginia,” says Carrie Vuori, an adoption coordinator and board member.

In the last decade, the organization has rehomed over 1,100 labs with around 100 in 2023. Many rescues in the past few years have been pandemic puppies whose owners found they couldn’t keep up with their needs or who had a major lifestyle change and had to surrender them. Depending on the situation, the dog might be immediately put into foster care or the owner will hold onto them to aid the adoption process.

“We try to be very understanding and respectful during the surrender process,” she says. “It can be a big challenge and we are here to help them. It’s all about the dogs.”

Carrie Vuori with her husband, David, and Hallie the rescue dog.

Daisy and Duke are an example of that. The sweet, 7-year-old brother and sister bonded pair were surrendered after one of their owners passed away.

There are currently 18 labs in LRGR’s foster care with 11 available for adoption – all of whom have their own lovable character and quirks.

“We have all kinds of different dogs in foster care,” she says. “Some are low or high energy; some labs really love to play, exercise and interact and be with humans.”

Apart from the mellow siblings, there’s Max – a playful 1-and-a-half-year-old pup who is the epitome of Labrador Retrieverness.

There’s also Luigi, a 2-year-old lab mix who has been searching for a home since July 2022 making him the longest one currently in the group’s care.

An outdoor enthusiast, Luigi is energetic and adores trail hiking and swimming, including in the James. “He’s a very Richmond dog,” says Vuori. Snapshots and videos of this adventurer exploring nature and up to playful shenanigans can be found on the group’s site.

As these labs await their forever home, they’re placed with a matched foster family. This can be a long-term dedication or just for the weekends and short-stay options.

Who could say no to these eyes? Another shot of Hallie chilling in the green grass.

During the first few weeks of foster care, initial wellness checks are completed alongside spaying and neutering. There’s also extra focus on helping the dogs be comfortable and calm from the major life adjustment to make sure their unique personality shines before their public debut.

Foster families eventually start to show off their special lab, especially through photos and videos. Once there’s an adoption applicant, the foster family will get to know them. If both agree the lab is a good match, the potential new furry family member will be met.

LRGR is always looking for fosters and encourages applications, even from those who don’t necessarily have a big yard or home as each lab has distinctive needs.

“Certainly someone in an apartment can foster,” says Vuori, who also tried fostering a few years ago before moving into her current role at the organization. “It doesn’t have to be a house in the ‘burbs with a yard or anything. Just apply.”

But there are plenty of other ways to assist. Donations are heavily appreciated as the funds often go toward medical necessities.

One could also donate their time and talents. Area trainers frequently assist with teaching dogs certain skills. Volunteers host a dog walk once a month in local parks where their dogs and foster labs meet up to observe the lab’s play style and how they interact with other canines and people.

Various events and fundraisers are also held throughout the year, like Tails on the Trails and the upcoming Pups in the Pool. Held at The Connexion at River Mill, this lively party on September 7 invites dogs of all breeds to splash around to raise money and awareness of the group’s mission. Registration opens August 1 and volunteers are welcomed to reach out through the organization’s site.

“Labs are a wonderful companion breed. They’re high-energy, intelligent, really goofy – there’s so much to love,” says Vuori. “They just want to be with you. They’re a great dog for Richmond.”

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