Golden retrievers are near and dear to Faye Silverman’s heart. But, like so many other golden retriever owners, she’s had to face cancer.
“In May 2015, my beloved golden retriever Joey was diagnosed with inoperable hemangiosarcoma of the heart,” said Silverman. “He passed away in July 2015. With his passing, I lost one of my best friends. On the heels of losing Joey (aka Papa), one of my other dogs, Nicky, was diagnosed with lymphoma in March 2017, and then also hemangiosarcoma.
“The thought of losing another pet to cancer was more than I could bear. After learning more about other families struggling with the same situations, I decided to do something to help aid in the research”
Silverman created A Golden Wish, a custom apparel line that features and honors the golden retriever dog, and provides a way for golden retriever lovers to make an impactful difference in the lives of golden retrievers everywhere. The company donates 10 percent of each purchase from A Golden Wish custom apparel to Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.
“Through A Golden Wish I hope to be able to make a difference by donating 10 percent of all merchandise purchased to assist in the ongoing research of cancer in our dogs,” said Silverman.
In addition to time and effort from study participants, dogs and veterinarians, there is a significant financial and staffing commitment to the study by Morris Animal Foundation. It’s expected that the study will cost $32 million, and fundraising for the study continues to be a priority for the Foundation’s development team. But it’s all worth it.
“This study requires a long-term commitment from dog owners and their veterinarians,” said John Reddington, President and CEO of Morris Animal Foundation. “We have the potential to learn valuable information that will not only improve canine health but will also significantly advance the entire field of veterinary medicine.”
Golden retriever owners across the country were invited to apply to participate in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, the largest and longest observational study ever undertaken in veterinary medicine to improve the health of dogs. Morris Animal Foundation enrolled 3,044 golden retrievers into the study. In order to qualify for the study, dogs needed to be less than 2 years old and in good health. The study, begun in 2012, is now in its sixth year.
Dogs accepted into the study participate for their entire lives. During that time, owners and veterinarians provide health, nutritional and environmental information about the dogs, as well as collect biological samples. This information will help scientists identify risk factors that may lead to cancer and other diseases in golden retrievers and all dog breeds, and from there conduct new investigations that may lead to better treatments and even cures.