How Being in the Golden Retriever Study Has Made Me a Better Dog Owner

Written by: Kelly J. Diehl, DVM MS, Dipl. ACVIM (SA Internal Medicine)

Golden Retrievers are the focus of Morris study
Photo by Morris Animal Foundation

[Editor’s note: Proceeds from the Orvis Cover Dog Contest fund the Morris Animal Foundation’s Canine Cancer Campaign. Here’s one woman’s story of her experience participating in the ground-breaking Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.]

Susan Marie runs a small Golden Retriever rescue and says she’s been rescuing all kinds of animals pretty much since she could walk. Other than one recent 6-month period over the past 40 years, she says, “I have never been without a Golden since my first.”

Susan Marie is clear about her reason for enrolling her newest Golden Retriever, Jordan, in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. She wants to be part of a project whose primary objective is to understand why Golden Retrievers have such a high incidence of cancer. Susan Marie first learned of the study through the Golden Retriever Forum, and she says her veterinarian, Dr. Renee Leton of El Camino Veterinary Hospital, motivated her to participate.

Susan Marie says, “Being in this study has made me a better owner to Jordan. There were at least five questions that I had really never thought about before filling out the [study] questionnaire, which I then researched.”

Jordan has the distinction of being one of the first 50 dogs to be enrolled in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, and both Susan Marie and Jordan have tirelessly volunteered for Morris Animal Foundation, logging hundreds of miles to participate in events to raise money and awareness for the study.

Jordan is a handful. Susan Marie reports the dog enjoys long walks on the beach, snuggling under the covers, frozen yogurt and swimming, swimming, swimming. Jordan even has her own Super Hero trading card and enjoys traveling with her Super Hero partner TriPod.

“Jordan is a party girl supreme,” says Susan Marie, “and in her spare time collects shoes!”

Susan Marie and Jordan are certainly Super Heroes for Morris Animal Foundation, and their efforts to raise awareness about canine cancer are superhuman indeed! Join these Super Heroes today by registering at

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