Morris Animal Foundation: What Dogs Can Teach Us

Written by Kelly J. Diehl, DVM, MS, DACVIM

Golden Retriever Lifetime Study participant Indy gets ready to dive!
Photo by Morris Animal Foundation

Indy Taught Me About How We Learn

When asked how Indy became a dock diver, Kim recalls taking the Golden Retriever to a good friend’s house. Her friend had a pool, and, well, the rest is history.

“Indy just started climbing up on the edge and jumping in,” Kim says. “We started taking him to the dock, and it just grew from there.”

Indy is now a champion dock diver, who has won numerous awards with several dock diving organizations. He has been invited to the DockDogs World Championships and currently has a personal best jump of 16’9” in the Big Air discipline. He competes in two of the three disciplines with DockDogs—Big Air and Speed Retrieve—and will hopefully compete in Extreme Vertical by the spring of 2015.

While dock diving is his favorite sport, Indy has many other accomplishments. He also competes in obedience, barn hunt and conformation. He holds titles in conformation and obedience, has earned an Advanced Canine Good Citizen (CGCA) certificate and is a Certified Therapy dog.

Kim and Indy are also participants in Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. Kim has had Golden Retrievers, and other dogs, for 20-plus years; all died from various types of cancer. Kim’s other dog, Aspen, is a cancer survivor herself, and Kim speaks movingly about her dog Jake, an “old soul” who touched Kim’s life deeply.

Indy’s participation in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is a tribute to Aspen, Jake and the other beloved dogs that have shared Kim’s life. She feels it is important that many different lifestyles and geographic areas are represented in the study.

“I am a bit on the fringe. I try to live as holistically, homeopathically, as possible,” she says with a laugh. “I feel it is important that we look at all different types of environments and genetics to really get an idea of how we are affecting our dogs.”

Indy, she says, has also given her great insight into how we learn. “He has taught me so much, and not just about dogs,” Kim explains. “I am a better advocate and guardian. I want to help all of my dogs reach their full potential, whatever that is. That’s my responsibility and promise to them as their canine guardian.”

By participating in the study, Kim and Indy will help scientists discover factors that can help all dogs reach their full potential. Join Kim and Indy and take a dive into this groundbreaking study by registering today at

Orvis is a major sponsor of the Morris Animal Foundation through its Cover Dog Contest, which has raised over $1 million for the Morris Animal Foundation’s canine cancer research projects.

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