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September 12, 2019 – You never know when you’ll meet a truly loyal friend. Years ago, Michael Smith was at an animal shelter looking for a German shepherd, the breed he and his wife adored, when he met Buddy. The golden retriever/Great Pyrenees mix looked up at Michael with sad eyes and Michael immediately felt a connection.

“They say shelter pets often make the best pets, since they feel they’ve been given a second chance at life,” said Michael. “I truly believe Buddy showed me love for how grateful he was to have his second chance and forever home.”

Michael said Buddy was one of the best dogs he’s ever had. The pup was a great workout companion and loved walks. Most importantly, though, he was gentle. Michael’s daughter, Marleigh, could play with Buddy and he was always patient and tender.

At the age of 14, Buddy’s blood work from an annual visit came back with some troubling results. Buddy soon became lethargic and started having seizures. The diagnosis was brain cancer.

“It was sad to see him reaching the point where I had to say goodbye, but I did not want him to go through pain,” said Michael.

After Buddy’s death, Michael received a card notifying him that his veterinarian had made a donation in Buddy’s name to Morris Animal Foundation, which Michael had never heard of. He went online to learn more and was impressed, particularly by the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.

The Study is one of the largest, most comprehensive canine health studies in the United States. Following more than 3,000 golden retrievers throughout their lives, it seeks to identify the nutritional, environmental, lifestyle and genetic risk factors for cancer and other diseases in dogs.

“With Buddy having golden in him, I thought it was a great cause and will hopefully find a cure or some aid that will help prevent this in other dogs,” said Michael.

Thanks to the generosity of donors like Michael, the Foundation also has funded more than 300 animal cancer research studies over 60 years, including for canine brain cancer. One recent investigation helped develop intensity modulated radiation therapy plans to treat dogs with brain tumors. Both golden retrievers and Great Pyrenees were among the breeds represented in the study.

Michael became a Loyal Friend and now gives monthly to the Foundation in support of vital animal health research. The program is one of the easiest ways people can help animals everywhere, including the ones in their own lives, contributing to studies that advance their health and well-being.

“I hope that the research can help; if not to find a cure, then to help other pets and other people going through similar situations to what we went through,” said Michael.

You can join Michael by becoming a Loyal Friend to help dogs like Buddy. If you join before September 30, 2019, every one of your first 12 gifts will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $50,000, thanks to a generous matching gift from the Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo Company. 

You never know when you’ll meet a loyal friend. Today, is that you?