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June 1, 2015 – Morris Animal Foundation appreciates the commitment made by our study participants, and we want to honor and recognize that commitment. Each month, we’ll share their stories and learn about the families and veterinarians who care for them. This month, meet Twist, Hero Dog #2002. “Twist is everything you could want in a friend; smart, funny, up for any adventure, and always there when I need her,” said Sally Craver, Twist’s owner. “Twist’s loyalty is sometimes challenged by who has the best treat but I know she will always come back to me.”

Twist doesn’t realize it, but she is part of an important subset of study dogs. Twist is one of several very closely related dogs participating in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. Having siblings or closely related dogs in the same study at the same time provides researchers with the unique opportunity to study genetically similar dogs raised in different environments. Sibling studies in humans have revealed startling information on the interaction between genes and the environment. The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study’s extensive questionnaires, pedigree information and collected samples will give veterinary scientists a valuable tool to look for similar associations.

Sally can’t remember when she first heard about the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, but she says it “…seemed like a pretty easy way to make a contribution to the golden breed.” Sally also credits her veterinarian, Dr. Thomas Blaszak of Roanoke, Virginia, with his enthusiasm and knowledge of the study as factors in helping Sally and Twist navigate through the study requirements. “Twist is into everything, which can sometimes get her into trouble. She loves to work and learn. Best of all, she makes me laugh.” Thank you Sally and Twist. Every participant in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, human and dog, matters!