William & Mary

Phenomenal freshman: Anna Booman and the 'golden' rule

  • Zach and friends
    Zach and friends  Zach, a golden retriever rescued from an abusive situation and later adopted by Anna Booman and her family, enjoys some time on the water with two of the family pugs.  Courtesy the Booman family
  • A family of rescuers
    A family of rescuers  The young woman in the William & Mary sweatshirt is not Anna Booman -- but her sister, Allie, in this 2007 photo. Anna is standing between her mother and father.  Courtesy the Booman family
  • The real Anna
    The real Anna  Here's a recent photo of Anna Booman, the second member of her family to attend William & Mary.  Photo by Jim Ducibella
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If you’re a freshman at William & Mary, you’re phenomenal. After all, you are one of only 1,521 from a pool of 14,552. This feature series takes a look at just a few of the College's freshmen and the phenomenal qualities and experiences they have brought with them to W&M. – Ed.

There are two traditions that Anna Booman ’18 is proud to be a part of: following in her mother’s footsteps as a student at William & Mary and assisting her father, mother and two siblings in the rescue of golden retrievers.

Ellen Steel, who majored in biology and minored in sociology, graduated from William & Mary in 1979 and made her way to Portland, Oregon, where she and her husband, Richard Booman, make their home. There, even before their daughter, Anna, was born, they began rescuing goldens.

Anna has been more than happy to join in.

“We specialize in senior dogs,” she said, “so we don’t have puppies or younger ones. Ours are usually around nine or 10. We’ve had a lot who are recovering from surgeries or from abusive households. We get them back on their feet and get them ready to be adopted by another loving family.”

Working with “Golden Bond Rescue,” which cares only for golden retrievers, Booman estimated that she has been part of 42 rescue missions. The age of the dogs is significant. Everyone loves puppies; on average, they’re adopted in a few weeks.

“It’s definitely more difficult to place older dogs,” she explained. “We put a photo and a story about them on the (Golden Bond Rescue) website, and it takes usually a few months to find a house.”Anna Booman

During that time, the dogs live with the Boomans, who own a large backyard that allows the dogs to run freely, but safely. In general, the Boomans receive the rescued dog’s bed and toys, Golden Bond pays for visits to the vet. The Boomans buy the food.

Thirty-five dogs have been placed in new homes. The other seven? They’ve remained with the Boomans.

Booman rarely takes part in the actual rescue. Rather, the dogs are brought to her home. She almost never meets the family surrendering the dogs, but said that the most common scenarios under which dogs are given up involve an owner who can no longer care for the dog because they’re moving into a nursing home or simply downsizing. Then there are younger couples with a new baby and don’t want the dogs around them.

“For those people, it seems like it’s always difficult to leave their dogs behind,” she said.

And, sadly, there are the animal abuse cases. “Zach” was on the verge of being euthanized because of his epileptic seizures – seizures that were brought on by the abuse inflicted upon him by owners who then claimed that they couldn’t afford the medication their actions caused him to need.

“We rescued him, gave him the medication, and he never had a seizure when he was with us,” Booman said.

The Boomans didn’t just rescue Zach – they adopted him.

“We didn’t want to place him,” Booman said. “He lived with us for another five years – and he was a great dog.”

While her part in the family rescue mission is on hold while she is at the university – and apart from her dog, a pug named “Po” – Booman’s face brightens when the idea of starting a student dog-rescue is raised. It would be great, she said, if she could find the time in between classes, participating in the club rowing program and joining a sorority or service organization.

“I’d definitely be interested in doing that,” she said. “Rescuing dogs is really rewarding, and it’s something I want to continue.”