Couple Starts Golden Retriever Farm in Vermont — and the Playful $75 Experience Goes Viral (Exclusive) (2024)

Douglas (Doug) Worple and his wife Becca have managed to create a bit of heaven on earth at their Golden Dog Farm.

The Jeffersonville, Vermont-based couple created the Golden Retriever Experience, where people from near and far visit their farm and canoodle with a happy of golden retrievers — the collective term for a group of goldens — for a designated amount of time. The one-of-a-kind experience, which Doug started in September 2023, started slow but has since gone viral a million times over on social media as more and more people visit.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit in 2020, Doug and his wife needed some change. He had been in the advertising business for 27 years and she was a children's photographer for 10 years and they, like many others, needed some respite.

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"I had a job where I traveled a couple hundred days a year, and then all of a sudden it just stopped and became a Zoom life," Doug told PEOPLE exclusively. "I decided to change course, so when, at the very beginning of COVID, someone asked if we were still interested in selling our house, I said yes."

The couple — whose college-aged kids were away at school — decided to sell their Cincinnati home, rent an RV and spend six months on the road, exploring. At the end of that six months, they found the 270-acre Vermont property that is now the Golden Dog Farm and settled.

As the Worples — who were owners of four golden retrievers at the time — were settling into their new home, they realized one of the downsides of living on a farm was that their dogs wouldn't get much human interaction.

Couple Starts Golden Retriever Farm in Vermont — and the Playful $75 Experience Goes Viral (Exclusive) (1)

That's when they had the idea of creating an event where people can come in, meet and spend some time with the goldens, and conversely, their pups can get used to other people who are not in the family. Executing, their idea, however, was going to be a challenge.

"One of the reasons we moved to a place like this was so that we can build our own happy of goldens, but we realized how much work [that was going to be]. Especially with adult dogs, they have a pack mentality," Doug explained.

"We had three dogs, [and brought in a fourth] and it took a while to integrate him into the household. So we realized it was going to take us forever to get to a number of dogs where we can do the experience."

Couple Starts Golden Retriever Farm in Vermont — and the Playful $75 Experience Goes Viral (Exclusive) (2)

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That's when the Worples called on their neighbors Dana and Susan Menne, "conscientious hobby breeders of AKC Golden Retrievers," who run their business, Butternut Hill Golden Retrievers, and own 13 goldens of their own. Thus, the Golden Retriever Experience was born.

The first couple of events were slated for the last Saturday of September 2023 and the first two of October, as it was peak fall foliage season. However, once the experience went viral on social media, tickets sold out quickly. The Worples wound up adding more dates and the event has been ongoing ever since.

Couple Starts Golden Retriever Farm in Vermont — and the Playful $75 Experience Goes Viral (Exclusive) (3)

"We [initially] put it up on our socials to see if anybody would be interested and we had [a few signups], but it certainly wasn't an overwhelming response," he told PEOPLE. "But then a TikTok account called Vermont Lifestyle posted about things to do in Vermont during fall foliage season and they had scraped some of our content and put it in their video and four to five million views of that video later, we sold out."

The Golden Retriever Experience goes for $75 per person. Each group has a total of 28 people who get to play ball, pet and hang out with the retrievers "until they get tuckered out."

After playing with the dogs outside, the Worples then lead the group and the dogs into one of the barns on the farm, where guests are treated to some hot chocolate if it's cold out, and they can have lunch and try other treats from the farm.

Typically, the entire event goes for about an hour and a half, but Doug explains that most times, they tend to go over as long as weather permits, and the dogs and guests are up for it. Because his wife was a professional photographer, guests who are interested in memorializing their experience also get professional pictures taken.

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"We get the best feedback and people are so happy. We hear all the time, 'This is the best day ever,' and some people say, 'This is like therapy.' We've even had some kids who've said this is better than Disney," Doug revealed.

Though it's all about having a good time, the experience has also brought out some strong emotions in others. "It's amazing. The energy and the smiles and the happy cries. There are also people who have lost a dog who come and it's healing," he revealed.

The experience also makes for a great birthday, anniversary or any special celebration venue. In fact, the Golden Retriever Experience has facilitated five proposals so far, and in one case — two people from the same group popped the question to their loved ones.

Couple Starts Golden Retriever Farm in Vermont — and the Playful $75 Experience Goes Viral (Exclusive) (5)

Because the event is only a couple of months old, they haven't hosted one single party as yet, but Doug revealed they're working on possibly hosting a bachelor party and birthday party during the warmer months.

Though he admits running the entire farm is like "working two full-time jobs," the response from people has been well worth it.

"It feels like all the experiences I've had in my life and all the experiences Becca has had in her life have all come together and they make this possible ... it feels like kismet. It feels like it was meant to happen," he shared.

Couple Starts Golden Retriever Farm in Vermont — and the Playful $75 Experience Goes Viral (Exclusive) (2024)
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