Participants Laugh, Hug, and Cry at 2017 Golden Retriever Club of America’s National Specialty
Wags and kisses were the order of the day for Golden Retriever Lifetime Study staff members Annie Li, Volunteer Manager, and Dr. Sharon Albright, Study Veterinarian, during the recent 2017 Golden Retriever Club of America National Specialty held Sept. 22-30 in Maryland.
Both Annie and Dr. Albright attended the event on behalf of Morris Animal Foundation and had a great time putting faces (and hugs) to the many people they speak to on the phone, or via email, every day.
“I didn’t know what exactly to expect, since this was my first time at this event,” said Annie. “It was fun to be at the booth and meet face to face the people I connect with on Facebook or on the phone. That was such a treat. Everything we’ve ever heard about how supportive the participants are of each other was demonstrated.”
Annie and Dr. Albright staffed the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study booth, chatting with longtime supporters of Morris Animal Foundation, and educating those who had never heard of the Foundation or the study.
In addition to the booth, the study staff members and volunteer team organized the Hero Parade, one of the highlights of the specialty. Dedicated to study participants and their owners and supporters, the parade has a special place in the hearts of many specialty attendees. The Golden Retriever Club of America, Golden Retriever Foundation, and Potomac Valley Club also helped make the parade possible.
Dr. Mike Lappin, a study veterinarian who has the distinction of caring for 18 Golden Retriever Lifetime Study participants, volunteered to help with the event. Dr. Lappin read the names and Hero numbers of parade participants.
“In addition to being a dedicated study veterinarian, Dr. Lappin works tirelessly for the breed,” said Dr. Albright. “Dr. Lappin recently lost one of his own dogs to cancer, which made his participation especially poignant – no one is immune to cancer.”
Sixty-eight dogs participated in the third annual parade, which honors dogs currently enrolled in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. As always, the parade drew a large and enthusiastic crowd of spectators. Fifty-seven seconds of silence were observed to honor the 57 deceased study participants, and was one of the most moving moments for Annie and for many of the participants present. However, the parade also was a way of celebrating the lives of all the dogs in the study and the community of people committed to the success of this groundbreaking venture.
For Dr. Albright, this was not just a chance to represent Morris Animal Foundation, but was a homecoming for her and her dogs, Reese and Blaze. Dr. Albright moved from Maryland’s eastern shore to Colorado specifically to work on the study.
“It was great to see everyone,” said Dr. Albright, whose dog Reese came home with several awards. “This is my home club. They were kind enough to give me lifetime membership so I’m still a member. I’m always overwhelmed by the study supporters who don’t show their dog at the Specialty, but come and help. They’re so enthusiastic and passionate about the study, and about the breed we love. It’s amazing the effort they make to support others and promote the study. It’s an inspiration.”
Thank you to our study volunteers, participants, veterinarians and dedicated staff; all critical to the success of our Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.