August 13, 2020 – Sue Geliebter has lost three beloved golden retrievers to cancer, and that was three heartbreaks too many. That’s why today she’s a donor to Morris Animal Foundation, supporting work to stop the diseases that took her own dogs too young, so that others can have longer, healthier lives. She’s also encouraging others to donate to the Foundation’s National Dog Day campaign, which runs the entire month of August and raises funds for the Foundation’s canine health research programs.
“I want them to live. It’s a tragedy that we develop these wonderful relationships and some dogs are taken away so soon. I hope we find some answers,” Sue said.
She first learned golden retrievers have a higher incidence of cancer while her first golden retriever, Charlie, was being treated for an oral cancer. Her second golden, Puma, developed meningioma, a brain tumor. Surgery to remove it only gave Sue another year with him.
When Puma died, Sue’s daughter gave her a golden puppy she named Cooper. Unfortunately, when he was 8 years old, about the same age as when Charlie and Puma died, his veterinarian found a growth in his spleen. Sue took Cooper for radiation and chemotherapy, but stopped when it became too much for him. Six months later, the cancer spread to Cooper’s liver and Sue had to say goodbye again.
“It’s so debilitating to watch your dog go through chemotherapy and debilitating for you,” said Sue. “After that, I said I’d never get another golden.”
Then her friend, and Morris Animal Foundation board member, Jay Mesinger told her about the Foundation and its Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. He also connected her to a golden retriever breeder who was diversifying their dogs’ genetic line with a sire from Scotland. Hope was renewed and that’s when Sue brought home the newest addition to her family – Wallis.
“The research sounded so interesting, especially the Study,” Sue said. “Unfortunately, its enrollment had already closed so Wallis couldn’t join, but I knew I still had to support it. I think it’s great.”
The Golden Retriever Lifetime 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.
Morris Animal Foundation and its supporters also have made hundreds of other canine cancer studies possible, including investigations into cancers like the ones that afflicted Sue’s first two golden retrievers. One current study out of Colorado State University is testing a new imaging technique that could significantly improve the ability to diagnose the disease’s spread to lymph nodes in dogs with head and neck tumors. If successful, it could help guide therapeutic decisions for canine cancer patients.
Sue is making a difference for the dogs she loves. And, during our National Dog Day campaign, you can join Sue by making a gift to support canine health research at Morris Animal Foundation. Even better, now through the end of August, every gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $50,000, thanks to an anonymous, dog-loving donor. That means your gift will go twice as far to help dogs everywhere!