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July 22, 2019 – It’s been said that within a dog owner’s lifetime, there will come one spectacular dog that will hold a special place in the heart and stand out from the rest. For Linda Nelson and her husband, John, this dog was a 6-year-old golden retriever named Big Guy.

“Big Guy was just gorgeous, so sweet and well trained,” said Linda. “He was our once-in-a-lifetime dog.”

Their once-in-a-lifetime dog also inspired a lifelong passion for golden retrievers. The couple would also become parents to several other goldens throughout the years, including Big Guy’s son and grandson, Woody and Ranger. And when both Woody and Ranger passed away from cancer, Linda’s desire to help her dogs live longer, healthier lives led her to become an advocate for and donor to the Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.

“I wanted to figure out why so many goldens were getting cancer,” said Linda. “So, when I heard of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study I thought, ‘this is it!’”

The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, one of the largest canine health studies in the country, follows more than 3,000 golden retrievers throughout their lives. The Study seeks to identify the nutritional, environmental, lifestyle and genetic risk factors for cancer and other diseases in dogs.

For Linda, supporting the Study is more than just a way of making a difference in the fight against canine cancer. It’s also a way of paying tribute to the breed she loves so much and the once-in-a-lifetime dog she’ll always carry close to her heart. And, while Big Guy may be gone, Linda found a golden retriever that would carry on his loving spirit.

“Our current golden, Slim, is just like Big Guy – such a good, sweet dog and a real dead ringer,” said Linda. “So, in our lifetime with many goldens, we have been immensely blessed with two once-in-a-lifetime pets!”