The average cost of a single talk therapy session in the U.S. ranges from $100 to $200, according to a 2019 report.
We’re not mental health professionals or anything, but we’ve discovered a guaranteed way to elevate your mood at a relative bargain: For $75, you can spend an hour in the presence of 10 or so golden retrievers on a farm in Vermont.
Launched earlier this autumn to coincide with leaf-peeping season, the Golden Retriever Experience at Golden Dog Farm in the village of Jeffersonville allows attendees (up to 28 at a time) the chance to play with, cuddle, and photograph the canines—unwitting dealers of what farm co-owner Doug Worple described in an email as “that happiness fix you can only get unconditionally from a dog. And to an exponential degree with this many dogs.”
(Golden Dog Farm co-owner Doug Worple with golden retrievers in Jeffersonville, Vermont | Credit: Becca Worple – Golden Dog Farm)
Married farm owners Doug and Becca Worple moved to Vermont from Cincinnati during the height of the Covid pandemic. After hosting a puppy adoption event at their farm for Butternut Goldens, a local American Kennel Club–certified, cage-free retriever breeder, the Worples approached Butternut owners Dana and Susan Menne about arranging a mixer for humans and adult dogs over three weekends this fall.
Then TikTok got wind of the event and the whole thing just “blew up,” Doug tells Frommer’s. “Millions of views. We went to bed with just a couple of spots filled, and we woke up and were sold out. We added more dates and they sold out.”
It’s not hard to see the appeal, particularly when you watch video clips of friendly, flaxen-furred beauties tumbling from a pickup truck bed, getting the zoomies during games of fetch, and submitting to group hugs in one big puppy pile.
Mans best friend ??
There’s a reason the Worples call a group of golden retrievers a “happy”—as in a school of fish, a pride of lions, and a murder of crows. In addition to the Butternut Goldens brood, visitors are likely to encounter the Worples’ own golden retrievers, Dewey and Uncle Lenny.
Dog lovers have already made pilgrimages to the picturesque farm from far and wide, according to Doug.
“We’ve had people from almost every state, including Alaska, and they are specifically planning their trip around this event,” he told us. “We’ve had visitors from Canada and Mexico, the U.K., France, Belgium, and Ireland so far as well.”
It’s fair to say the dogs have upstaged anything else happening on the property. But “until the Golden Experience, we were best known for our maple syrup,” says Doug. The farm also has more than 30 beehives producing honey (Becca is the resident beekeeper), as well as orchards and a vineyard. You can take separate tours highlighting those aspects of the operation or shop for the Worples’ wares in person and online.
Doug assures us that the Golden Retriever Experience will continue taking place on weekends through the winter and beyond, so if you’re in the area for, say, skiing in nearby Stowe, you can still swing by for a fix of doggie joy.
In case of bad weather, the experience will move into the barn. “If the weather is truly severe and it is dangerous to be traveling, we will cancel the event and either reschedule or refund those attendees,” per Doug Worple.
(Golden Retriever Experience at Golden Dog Farm in Jeffersonville, Vermont | Credit: Becca Worple – Golden Dog Farm)
Note that this is a group event, meaning that your party will not be the only one attending at a time. Attendance is capped at 28 people, however, to help ensure there are enough dogs to go around.
Tickets for the Golden Retreiver Experience are $75 apiece for adults, $50 for children ages 11 and younger. For more information or to reserve a spot, go to GoldenDogFarm.com.