Denise Dunn Garwood


Nov. 17, 1954 to Nov. 16, 2016

Denise and Molly


This page is dedicated to a very special friend of English Springer Rescue America, Inc. and to those who have known and loved her. Denise Dunn Garwood was born in Bay Shore, Long Island in 1954. She lived there with her parents, William and Virginia, and her brothers Bill and Thomas and then on to Waverly, NY for a few years, until the age of ten, when the family relocated to St. Louis, MO. Missouri is where Denise called home until her recent passing on November 16, 2016, just one day shy of her 62nd birthday. Denise was a cancer survivor, but sadly, it was also a complication of the disease that took her from us too soon. She was a special friend to many of us and certainly to many Springer Spaniels along the way. Her devotion and dedication to her loved ones and to animals spoke volumes about the type of person she was.


Denise was a long-time volunteer with ESRA, and she worked for the good of our Springer friends for many years as the State Coordinator in Missouri. She worked in managing the St. Louis area and interacted with many rescue associates in its surrounding areas. She coordinated efforts with members Mark Samuel, Kim Ludwig, Anne Solak-Tennant, and Heidi Thomas Dunn, to name a few, to help rescue and relocate so many Springers in need. She also worked hand in hand with other rescue groups in her area, and she was always sacrificing her time and finances to assist any dog that needed a new start in life.

Denise's management of the Missouri area came with its fair share of heartache. Unfortunately, this particular area of the Midwest has been a hub for commercial breeding facilities (a.k.a. puppy mills). Many of them have been shut down by governmental agencies, and ESRA has been there to assist. Denise was "in the trenches," aiding other volunteers and ESRA management during the shutdown of some of these facilities. There was one breeder, in Gainesville, MO, who set his kennel on fire in 2009, and this case had such a profound impact on Denise, who was there to assist. Many of the dogs were not fortunate enough to survive this atrocity, and it has been shared by her family that Denise felt so bad for them that she chose to keep their cremains. These were buried with her along with several of her beloved pets that had passed before her.

Denise and dogs

Denise was also a dedicated employee. She worked for almost 40 years as a paralegal, spending many of those years as an assistant to a St. Charles, MO attorney. In fact, she was one of the first people this attorney had employed, and he showed his appreciation for Denise's dedication on a daily basis. Denise loved her work. Even when she became too ill to work, she always made herself available to her employer to help in any way that she could.

Such a selfless individual, Denise had a very kind and caring heart. She adored all of her nieces and nephews (some of them "great"), and enjoyed spending as much time with them as she could. She also loved the camaraderie of ESRA and sharing her passion for Springer Rescue with other members and friends at many of the ESSFTA National Specialty events. For years, Denise spent many of her weekends devoting time to rescue transports, and she would often choose to do this over other activities with family and friends. She always put the dogs first. As her fellow Coordinator, Mark Samuel, shared, "Denise couldn't say no. It was her weakness, yet was also her strength. She was caring, loving, committed, and compassionate - the real deal!" Her brother Tom shared that "Every Springer she met meant something to her." Her eldest brother, Bill, wanted us to know that she made so many sacrifices for our animal friends, and she was very devoted to them and to her family. She grew up in a family of animal lovers, and it was undoubtedly her greatest passion. Her compassionate heart had always resulted in her outreach to others. In memory of their sister's practice of giving, brothers Bill and Thomas made donations of items such as her business suits to less fortunate women, and her wigs to other cancer patients at Saint Luke's Cancer Institute in St. Louis, MO.

Denise and Bucky

Many of us will always remember Denise's wit and infectious smile. She was a lover of many things. She loved the color purple, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Besides her family, her love for her dogs was what drove this woman to dedicate so many years to rescuing and finding homes for so many others. To honor Denise and her tireless efforts for rescue, and upon learning of Denise's passing, all of her four dogs were immediately cared for and placed in loving homes through friends and fellow rescuers who knew and loved her so. We know that Denise can rest in peace, knowing that they are loved and well cared for.

We thank Denise for her dedication to our beloved breed. In honor of her memory, donations may be made to English Springer Rescue America, Inc., The Animal Welfare Society of Jefferson Co., WV (a no-kill facility where her brother, Bill, is acting President and sits with his wife, Dixie, and 13 others on the Board of Directors) or to the Delta Gamma Center for Children with Visual Impairments in Richmond Heights, MO.

If you wish to make a gift to ESRA in Denise Garwood’s memory, our online donation form can be accessed by clicking this link.


Bill Dunn To Charlotte's Fund in memory of Denise Dunn Garwood
Beth Fink To Charlotte's Fund in memory of Denise Garwood
Gary & Linda Plate In memory of Denise Garwood for her tireless efforts to assist Springers in need.
Nita Watson In memory of Denise Garwood, a beautiful soul, much missed.
Heidi Thomas-Dunn In loving memory of Denise Dunn Garwood.
Kristin Bibee In memory of Denise Garwood, from Abby, ESRA Springer rescued by Denise in 2008, and Abby's eternally grateful adoptive humans.