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February 3, 2022 — When Tracy Fink clicked on what she thought would be just a ho-hum email, she never expected it would catapult her golden retriever Carmel, Hero Dog #2055, to her 15 minutes of fame!

“The email was from the AKC (American Kennel Club) and said I could enter my dog in this contest,” said Tracy. “ I thought I might as well. I found a category I thought would be suitable, mentioning that Carmel was participating in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. I entered Carmel and thought that was the end of it.”

Not quite.

Several months later, Tracy got notified that Carmel had won an AKC Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence Honorable Mention in the category of Exemplary Companion – and could Tracy please send a few pictures? Not long afterward, Tracy was watching the awards on television when suddenly, her 60” screen was filled with a picture of Carmel.

“I remember shouting ‘Holy cannoli Boo Boo, that’s you!’” Tracy said. “It was crazy. I was sitting there crying.”

Tracy and her husband, Matt, were glad that Carmel’s award brought some recognition to the Study. Tracy and Matt enrolled Carmel in the Study after a chance encounter with another participant they met while walking Carmel on the beach.

“Carmel is my fourth golden,” said Tracy. “My other three dogs were all lost to cancer.”

When asked what surprised them about participating in the Study, Tracy and Matt laughed about how the size of the annual kit box shocked them the first time they got it in the mail. They also talked about their hopes and dreams for how Study outcomes could help dogs in the future.

“I would love to see cancer and other illnesses wiped away so golden retrievers could live longer lives,” said Matt. “They’re amazing dogs and so special to us.”