Golden Profile: Nellye and Wrigley Go to Work for Dogs
Gail Ingrish of Aurora, Colorado, has known from day one that Wrigley, her 97-pound red Golden Retriever, was something special. She jokingly calls him “Mr. Personality” because he loves everyone.
His outgoing demeanor is what makes Wrigley such a great therapy dog; he’s been involved with therapy work since he was just four months old. Each week Wrigley, along with his canine “siblings” Nellye and Myca, visits Craig Hospital, which specializes in treating people with brain and spinal cord injuries, and Shalom Park, a local nursing home. Gail and the dogs volunteer through Therapy Dogs Inc., an organization Gail became involved in 12 years ago with her first dog, Gracey.
The dogs have busy social lives as well, greeting friends at home, heading to a nearby state park every week and hiking.
“I firmly believe that dogs should be out and about and socialized,” Gail says. “It’s important for animals in general to be active and to be an important part of the community. They need to have a purpose.”
Nellye, an English creme, and Wrigley are also enrolled in Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, which is working to prevent and treat cancer and other diseases in dogs.
Sadly, Gail is all too familiar with canine cancer. The breed she loves is highly susceptible. Gracey survived for a-year-and-a-half after her battle with liver cancer, but others aren’t so lucky. Estimates are that 60 percent of Golden Retrievers die of some form of cancer.
“My friends and I have had four sets of sibling golden retrievers together,” she says. “The first four were all related and three of them died within 10 months of each other—all of cancer. As soon as I heard about the study, I called my friend and said ‘we’re going to be part of this study.’”
That’s why, Nellye’s brother Hogan and Wrigley’s sister Casi joined the study as well.
“I’m hoping this study can find some answers or find ways for better treatment,” Gail says.
To learn more about Morris Animal Foundation and our other programs please visit morrisanimalfoundation.org.