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New England Golden Jubilee - 2017

Moments In Time

By Sandra L. Lok

Our days are full of moments - some we prefer to forget and others we hope to hold onto as memories forever. The Third Annual New England Golden Jubilee was rich in memories.

The New England Golden Jubilee is held annually at Dog Mountain in Saint Johnsbury, Vermont.  It is a celebration of all things Golden Retriever and is held in honor of the 3,000 plus Heroes enrolled in the Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.  The Jubilee is our way of helping to sustain and build support for the study with the hope that it will one day provide information about canine cancer much like the research that leads to early detection of cancer in humans.  Two months before this year's Jubilee, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I am now a survivor.  My husband, Peter, who is also fellow organizer of the Jubilee, was thankful that I had followed through with my mammogram, ultrasound and MRI.  I became simply grateful for the research that lead to these methods of early detection.

While recovering from surgery friends, family and supporters came to our aid with offers of help meeting our daily needs and putting the finishing touches on the Jubilee.  Between them, they picked up donations, stuffed goodie bags, groomed our four-legged organizers, Meg, Andy and Grant, before the big day, made salads, organized auction items and even held the megaphone for me.

And so it was that on May 20, 2017,  I had the privilege of welcoming 100 dogs (97 of them Golden Retrievers) and their 135 Peeps to the Third Annual New England Golden Jubilee.  Goldens of every shade came from all over New England, Pennsylvania and New York, too!  After giving a goodie bag to each four-legged attendee, an early morning Golden Romp, some spontaneous hikes and time spent posing for group photographs, including one of me with a group of Golden Cancer Survivors, we gathered in front of the Dog Chapel.  Father Curtis Miller of the local Corpus Christi Church offered a prayer and a blessing of the  animals. I lit the Remembrance Candle and tears were shed as I read the names of Golden friends who had recently passed. We remembered these Angels in a moment of silence.  We then heard from Dog Mountain's very own Pam McGann, who welcomed us and told us about the history of the Dog Chapel, the vision behind it and about efforts to maintain the integrity of the Chapel, now twenty years old.  Allyson McKenna of Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue then told us how the organization is adapting to current trends in Golden Retriever Rescue work with changes of its own, including rescuing Golden Retrievers from Turkey.  She told us Mariah's story and how it came to be that Mariah joined her forever family. Mariah was one of three Turkish Rescue Golden Retrievers at the Jubilee.

There were prizes awarded, too!  Fifteen-and-a-half-year-old Sprocket won for being the most senior Golden; litter mates Dublin and Botany won for being the youngest at just five months old and Pizelle and Flicker won for travelling the furthest, all the way from Pennsylvania. Bowie, recipient of the first ever New England Golden Jubilee Tears of Joy prize, with the help of his Mom, Laurie Sullivan, announced Pizelle as this year's recipient. Pizelle is just over a year old and with Stage 4 Kidney Disease has surpassed her life expectancy under the loving care of her Mom, Crystal Garmon.

All eyes were then on Laurie Sullivan as she danced with Bowie's siblings, Georgia and then Ricochet. Laurie then introduced Bowie for his third annual Jubilee performance.  Bowie is now twelve and a half years old and a two-year hemangio sarcoma survivor. Laurie explained that they would break with the tradition of dancing to "The Fight Song" as she feels they have won the fight.   Instead she chose a song with a special message she wanted to give to Bowie.  Bowie took center stage and we reveled in his joy as he danced with Laurie to Rachel Platten's "A Better Place." It was as if the song had been written for the two of them.

With the power of song resounding still, we headed up to the pond for the tennis ball toss.  Tennis balls had been given to each person, and on cue, 100 tennis balls were tossed into the pond.  The game was on!  Laughter erupted, Golden bodies wriggled and splashed and smiles adorned the faces of all. Many of those smiles were filled with tennis balls.

Excitement mounted as the aroma of grilled hot dogs and cheeseburgers filled the air.  A good meal was had by all, and time to draw winners of the Kibble-Cup Auction had come.  Through the auction, we raised $2,000 for Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue. A total of $1,669.13 was also raised for the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study from donations made to the Jubilee. 

The Third Annual New England Golden Jubilee has passed leaving in its wake a wealth of moments in time to cherish forever - Kisses for Goldens and kisses from them, sugar faces basking in the sun, in the shade and inside the door of the chapel, pups taking their very first swim, at least one Golden in the role of Ambassador, others who joined the welcoming committee, a Golden who ran free for the very first time on American soil, photo bombers, at least one bubble blower, belly rubs, smiling faces, sparkling eyes and water droplets shaken off golden fur and glistening in the sun.

While thinking about plans for next year's Jubilee, I find myself forever grateful for the memories of the moments in time when worlds of scientific research, Golden Retrievers and the very special land that is Dog Mountain aligned with friends, family and sponsors and culminated into the celebration of a lifetime.

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