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January 6, 2022 — Dr. Rachael Fitzgerald is the proud owner of Hawkeye, Hero #198, and wears two hats when it comes to being part of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. Dr. Fitzgerald is one of a handful of veterinarians who are both a Study dog pet parent and a Study veterinarian.

“I heard about the Study at a continuing education meeting not long after recruitment began,” said Dr. Fitzgerald. “Hawkeye was just the right age to join, and it was an easy decision to jump in and participate!”

Dr. Fitzgerald finds that being a Study participant has changed how she practices medicine each day.

“I think being in the Study has changed how I plan and implement preventive wellness care for dog breeds at risk for cancer,” said Dr. Fitzgerald. “In addition, the information from the Study on the timing of spay/neuter has impacted my practice and how I speak to owners who come in with large-breed puppies.”

Participating in the Study also took on new meaning for Dr. Fitzgerald when her golden mix Turk developed lymphoma several years ago.

“It made me glad Hawkeye was in the Study,” she said. “It made it clearer to me why the Study was important. I didn’t want anyone to go through what I was experiencing with Turk ever again.”

Dr. Fitzgerald adds there have been other personal benefits to being in the Study.

 “I think bringing Hawkeye in for his annual Study examination has made me a better pet parent,” she said. “It’s easy for veterinarians to get so caught up in work that we can forget it’s time for bloodwork or exams on our own pets!”

Dr. Fitzgerald looks forward to seeing what findings come out of the Study that can help her be both a better pet parent and veterinarian. She likes to dream big when she thinks about the future.

“I'm super interested to see if there's some big thing, some magic bullet, that points to a cause of cancer, something we never thought of before. I'm hoping we’ll find something tangible that we can take into everyday practice, something we can tell people that they can implement that's really going to make a difference. That’s my biggest hope.”