Team Cumberland – Retrieving Independence




TEAM CUMBERLAND are River Road Retrievers that are either currently residing at Cumberland Heights as Pet Assisted Therapy Dogs or they are preparing for their move.    Read more below about Team Cumberland and Cumberland Heights.

The Blessing of the Animals at Cumberland Heights October 2013

In February of 2014, River Road Retrievers and Cumberland Heights entered into a joint venture, something I call the Golden Lottery for all involved.

On February 17, 2014 Karisma checked into Cumberland Heights…



Since then we have heard nothing but positive responses.  Her presence at Cumberland Heights has been very powerful.  So you may ask how do I part with them…



I simply cannot be selfish and keep all these Goldens to myself.  Our Goldens can offer so much to these people in recovery, they can make a positive change in people’s lives who are in need, so I will share them.


Cumberland Heights is a nationally recognized alcohol and drug treatment center located on River Road in west Nashville, only a mile from the Home of the River Road Retrievers, offering both in-patient and out-patient services for individuals as well as programs for family members.

Cumberland Heights is committed to the tradition of providing the highest quality of care possible, in a cost-effective manner for people and their families who are at risk for, or are suffering from, the disease of chemical dependency. Treatment encompasses the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions of recovery by offering professional excellence, the principles of the Twelve Steps and a safe, loving environment

Therapy dogs, and dogs in general, bring many positive benefits to people in recovery, especially Golden Retrievers.  There are many studies with positive results.  It is our hopes that our River Road Retrievers, Team Cumberland, can bring positive change and help the patients with their recovery and the staff doesn’t seem to mind them being around either.




Karisma has some wonderful stories, all that she holds secret about her journey as a Pet Assisted Therapy Dog…  There are so many wonderful stories, but due to patient confidentiality we cannot share them…  We can say that she is making change into peoples’ lives in recovery and that we are very proud of her, the staff at Cumberland Heights and the positive response of the patients.

She is my ballerina, she dances with excitement and grace all the time.  She is just a joy.  She is also our most compassionate golden, a love sponge.  Karisma has brought much joy to Cumberland Heights in the small amount of time she has already spent there.

On March 12th Dog Watch of Nashville installed a seven acre fence.  This gives us some room to grow…   Dog Watch of Nashville provided us a huge discount for this program.  When I first started getting bids on doing this project, Dogwatch understood what this program was for, while others were looking to make the buck.  They took pride in being involved in our program with Cumberland Heights.  They understood the program, the needs of River Road Retrievers and Cumberland Heights.  Their services were way beyond exceptional.  

A little about Dogwatch:

They have been surrounding dogs since 1990.  They have the longest battery life, of any fence or other brand.  They installed the fence, worked with us and our goldens and it was a great experience working with all persons at Dogwatch.   We recommend their services to all of our puppies owners who do not have fencing already.  The installation went smooth…  the people were informative and respective to our program…  A big shout out to Dogwatch!!!

River Road Retrievers is honored to be part of this program…


A Story From Julie

Julie is a former patient of Cumberland Height as well as a dear friend.  Julie has spent a lot of time at our place with our Goldens she was very excited about Cumberland Heights having our Goldens there and she wanted to share her story.

My name is Julie Schweitzer and I am an Alcoholic.  On May 18, 2010, I arrived at the doors of Cumberland Heights drunk,  broken, lost, and desperate.   I was 39 years old and had lost everything dear to me.  I had tried everything to fix myself and couldn’t.  This was my last option.  I owe my life to God as well as so many people and things including my experience at Cumberland Heights.  I learned all of the things that I would need to do upon departing to continue sobriety in the real world.  The first few months I did not work and dedicated every minute to recovery.  3-5 meetings a day along with IOP and wondered how I would ever be able to work again since it took that much for me to stay sober.  I surrounded myself with people in recovery and began a new life.  During this time I had a strong desire to get a dog so I would have someone to come home to.  Home was the hardest place for me to be if I didn’t have something to be doing.  I was advised to wait until I had at least 90 days sober.  On day 100 Logan came into my life.

I write this letter to share what Logan has done for me and the significant role he plays in my recovery.   After a lot of praying I set out to find “my” dog.  We both knew the moment we saw each other and at that instant a whole new life began and another layer of the foundation of my recovery was formed.  I no longer hated coming home out of fear but was excited.  I could talk to him about everything going on in my head which made me more comfortable to share with others.  Secrets I had kept for years I could tell him and he still loved me.  I was able to be honest with myself for the first time by talking to him.  Suddenly I realized I could share these things with my sponsor and in doing so she still loved me too. The huge walls I had built around myself so nobody could get in began to get a little smaller.  I was finally able to open up and let people in.  He has taught me unconditional love, patience, and acceptance.  I can always tell how I am doing by how he is.  He comforts me when I’m sad and celebrates with me when I’m happy.   He helped me to forgive my past and begin to love myself and love others.

A lot of people do not understand the relationship I have with Logan.  He is the most important creature on the planet to me because he symbolizes my recovery from the dark world of alcoholism.  In spending time with him I continue to learn more about myself and he has taught me how to have healthy relationships with people.

Julie and Logan

julie and Logan

On August 20, 2013, Julies River Road Retriever was born

Julie named her River Road Retrievers Tuesday’s Grace

By the Grace of God, I had the opportunity to experience the life of my River Road Retriever.  I was there when she came into the world and took her first breath.  I visited her every day until I took her home.  Sarah, Doc and the River Road Retrievers have given me a lot of support in my sobriety and recovery.  This has been an amazing and life changing experience that has given me the opportunity to love even more than I imagined I was capable of.

I feel that all people recovery would benefit from spending time with dogs.  They do not judge, they do not tell our secrets and they love us unconditionally.  I believe that the things we receive from them help us to learn about ourselves and help us to open up to others.   Life is amazing today and I am excited to be a part of something so dear to my heart.

All of this would not have been possible without my start at a new life beginning at Cumberland Heights.

Julie and Grace



I want to also say that I am proud of Julie and her journey and I am more than honored to be her friend and be a part of this program and the work that Cumberland Heights does.


Karisma had her last litter on November 5, 2016 and we are in the process of retiring her from the breeding program.  She has given us some wonderful dogs who have also gone on to become therapy dogs.  Karisma has been an excellent mom and her last litter was fantastic and the blessings she has given so many families with her pups has been a wonderful experience for River Road.

It is expected that late spring of 2016 that Karisma will retire to Stillwaters, which is a intensive 12 step woman’s facility here in west Nashville.  The facility is amazing with a beautiful home and a handful of patients and residents.  This will be an excellent home for Karisma and her wonderful abilities of healing can continue and give great benefits to the staff and patients at Stillwaters.

We also expect to add another dog to Cumberland Heights in 2016-17.