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April 10, 2015 – “We’ve fostered more than 100 dogs,” Kirk Williams begins. “Our first dog was a Golden Retriever, Sandy.  Sandy had flunked out of the Leader Dog School of the Blind in Rochester, Michigan, due to lack of discipline and responsibility.  Over the next several years, until her death from renal failure, she never learned about responsibility, but I learned about her never ending love.”

Kirk and his wife Diane have found a calling in fostering dogs in and around Charleston, South Carolina.  In addition to having Golden Retrievers and Golden mixes for almost 30 years, Kirk and Diane have fostered dogs in their home in Mount Pleasant.  They have a special place in their hearts for Golden Retrievers, which as Kirk states, “Love to please.  We love the beach, the outdoors.  They fit our lifestyle perfectly.”

Kirk and Diane work with a variety of retriever rescues in Charleston, taking any dog in need, including many with medical issues such as heartworm disease, behavior problems, and cancer.  Kirk relays the story of how they adopted Waylon, an abused Golden Retriever.  “When we first met him he would cower to the ground when you got close to him, he couldn’t get into a car and he didn’t know how to use steps.  We had him for three months, and when he left, he was a puppy that loved the world.  He now lives with a local restaurant owner in a happy home nearby.”

Kirk recently enrolled Annie Jo, their 5th Golden Retriever, and our hero dog # 2481, in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, because they have lost so many dogs to cancer.  When asked, Kirk lists the types of cancers and the names are all too familiar: brain, lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma.  By enrolling Annie Jo, Kirk hopes to make a difference in the lives of all the dogs who have shared his home, both those that stayed for years, and those that stayed until they were healed.

To learn more about Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, and our other studies, please visit