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November 1, 2018 - On Sunday, October 7, at the Englewood Civic Center in Colorado, 13 musicians came together to play music from the heart in honor of the dogs they had lost. Jason Lichtenwalter, organizer of the Concert for Canines and oboist with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, was touched by the outpouring of support and the emotion of the day.

“The concert was a gift of love to the dogs in our lives we are missing,” said Jason, whose dog, Jack, died last year from hemangiosarcoma. “There were some tears backstage and the emotions were pretty raw, but there was also laughter and remembrance."

The concert not only brought the musicians together, it brought dog lovers together from across Colorado’s Front Range to support cancer research at Morris Animal Foundation. It also gave them the opportunity to grieve and remember, and to honor and celebrate the lives of their beloved companion animals.

In sharing his loss with fellow symphony musicians, Jason learned that several of them had dogs recently die from cancer. For Jason, it was the sudden death of 11-year-old Jack, the dog that had stolen his heart and the buddy that never left his side.

“From the time I found out something was wrong to the time I found out I would have to put him down was no more than 30 minutes,” Jason said. “This was a disease I had never even heard of before. I was stunned and heartbroken.”

Courtney Hershey Bress, harpist with the symphony, had lost her golden retriever, Zen, to hemangiosarcoma as well. It didn’t take long to find other musicians to join in the benefit concert who had also suffered the loss of a beloved pet.

For Jason, the concert was turning his grief into action. Once he began organizing the concert with the help of his musician friends, he needed to find an organization that would be the right fit as beneficiary of their efforts. An online search turned up Morris Animal Foundation, which happens to be headquartered in Denver where Jason lives and performs.

“I investigated the Foundation and learned that their focus is on research to help animals, including research on the many cancers that affect our dogs,” said Jason. “The idea for the concert was embraced by the Foundation and their staff members made it a wonderful experience.”

Concert for Canines benefited cancer studies funded by Morris Animal Foundation, including three new studies into hemangiosarcoma, the cancer that took the lives of Jack and Zen. For Jason, knowing that the contributions of the musicians and attendees will make a difference in the lives of dogs everywhere by advancing cancer research is a comfort.

“It’s still hard sometimes to believe that Jack is gone,” said Jason. “Doing the concert in his honor, and in honor of all the dogs we have lost, doesn’t make that pain go away, but it does make us stronger for being able to make a difference.”

Learn more about cancer studies at Morris Animal Foundation and consider making a gift to advance the health of dogs today and tomorrow. And, now through December 31, your gift can be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000, thanks to a group of generous donors. You can help dogs have longer, healthier lives, so that we can all have more moments, more memories and more years with our beloved canine companions.