It was a black-and-white Great Dane named Murphy that took Dr. Robin Downing by the heart and never let her go. Murphy came into Dr. Downing’s life after being relinquished by her owners, but three weeks before she was to take ownership, Murphy was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Murphy’s owners thought Dr. Downing probably would not want Murphy now, but they couldn’t have been more wrong.
Murphy and Dr. Downing traveled the road of osteosarcoma treatments and, incredibly, Murphy lived 4 ½ more years with osteosarcoma (two separate occurrences). Murphy served as the mascot for the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University, inspired Dr. Downing’s book Pets Living With Cancer: A Pet Owner’s Resource, and met retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who also had survived cancer.
During our Unite to Fight Pet Cancer campaign, May 1-June 30, Dr. Downing is one of many voices being lifted to raise awareness of cancer in our pets, and encourage others to make a difference by supporting research that will advance cancer health care.
Always a passionate advocate for the animals who share our world, Dr. Downing came to Morris Animal Foundation as a veterinary ambassador in the early 1990s. Wanting to have a greater impact on animal health issues, she joined the Board of Trustees in 2000 and served on the board until 2014. She has long supported the fight against cancer, and helped to launch the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study in 2012 to better understand the risk factors for cancer in dogs.
“Morris Animal Foundation and the work they do is critical to helping us better treat and care for our companion animals, especially those affected by cancer,” said Dr. Downing, who owns the Downing Center for Animal Pain Management in Windsor, Colorado. “In my practice, and with my own pets, I see the toll that cancer takes on our beloved pets and on their families. It’s so important to support this research, and Morris Animal Foundation is at the heart of those efforts.”
Dr. Downing specializes in pain management and rehabilitation at her clinic and sees many pets every day, but her dog Murphy is never far from her thoughts. Her picture graces the clinic walls, and reminds Dr. Downing of the importance every day of the work that she does, and that still needs to be done when it comes to advancing our understanding of cancer, and what we need to do to stop it.