Longtime Toluca Lake residents Lew and Carolyn Goldstein love Australian shepherd dogs — “they are smart, loyal, very active and attentive,” Carolyn explains. The couple owned three Aussies between them when they married, one of which even served as the ring bearer in their wedding. The family now comprises 11-year-old daughter Aubrey, 9-year-old son Brayden and two Aussies: 14-year-old Boomer is “the leader of the pack” and loves to sleep, while almost-4-year-old Jeter, “the family comedian,” enjoys jumping over bushes, howling, chasing the kids on their bikes and scooters, and fetching tennis balls.
Then Carolyn found husky mix Sophie wandering outside her children’s school last September. “She tried to steal a doughnut from my doughnut table! She was a mess — skinny, filthy, and it looked like she had bad cataracts in both her eyes. It was over 100 degrees that day and I just couldn’t leave her.” After months of fruitless searching, first for the original owner and then for a new adoptive home, the Goldsteins decided the approximately 9-year-old stray had become part of their family. “She has caught on to our rituals and schedule quite nicely, and we are happy to have her live out her senior years with us!” Carolyn says, adding that people who saw Sophie on the day she was rescued can hardly believe she’s the same animal when they meet her now. Her eye condition managed by daily medication, she “loves everybody and everydog.”
“Having a husky for the first time, we had to learn a completely different personality,” Carolyn says. “Aussies are very focused on their owners. You never need a leash for our guys, as they continually herd us and constantly look back to make sure we are OK. Huskies are more independent and docile. And Sophie has actually taught Jeter how to hunt moles!” (Lew shares a tale of Sophie literally scaring a neighborhood mole to death — it popped out of its hole, saw her and apparently suffered a heart attack on the spot.)
All three dogs enjoy running in South Weddington Park, eating peanut butter, visiting local restaurants and participating in Toluca Lake’s annual Fourth of July parade. “We would not be the same family without them!” Carolyn exclaims. “They brighten my every day and teach my kids responsibility, sensitivity to animals, unconditional love. If it weren’t for dogs, there would be so many lonely people. Dogs give people a purpose and make our lives whole. They are complete blessings.”
The Goldsteins certainly aren’t alone in this sentiment; dozens of local readers have sent us sweet tales about their bond with their canine companions. Check out the following stories to meet more of the dogs that bring joy to our community: