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Hope, Promise and Togetherness

By Sandra L. Lok


As of May 21, 2018, the Fourth Annual New England Golden Jubilee was history, leaving in its wake a future full of hope and promise.

One hundred twenty Golden Retrievers in every shade of gold and their people came from all over New England, from as far as New York, Pennsylvania and even Florida, to gather at Dog Mountain in Saint Johnsbury, Vermont to celebrate the 3,000 plus Golden Retrievers who are enrolled in the Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever LIfetime Study.  This year we had the added pleasure of celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the breed.


My husband, Peter, and I, along with our three Golden Retrievers, organize the New England Golden Jubilee each year in an effort to help build and sustain support for the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study and to help support the mission of Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue.  Our five year old Golden, Andy, is enrolled as a Hero in the study and we know firsthand the commitment it takes to ensure his compliance with annual requirements.  We believe that events like the New England Golden Jubilee help to achieve the retention that is needed for the study to be a success.  The study holds promise for a future when canine cancer is no longer the norm. Hope was visible in  the eyes of all the Golden Retrievers who made  their way to the registration table and received a free goodie bag that included a bandana with the New England Golden Jubilee logo.

After a good early morning romp, the stage was set for group photos. There is no photograph quite as memorable as that of a group of Golden Retrievers. The group photographs taken this day seemed to speak to us and what we heard from them is that the twelve Heroes are a testament to our commitment, the ten rescues are proof of our compassion, twelve age ten and older are the dream that we all share, twenty-two age two and younger are the promise of the future, fourteen therapy dogs offer comfort at will , six cancer survivors are the reason we are all in this and finally the entire group of one hundred twenty - each and every face full of hope and promise.


At noon, we gathered in front of the Dog Chapel for the lighting of our Remembrance Candle, the reading of the names of Golden friends who have passed and a moment of silence in their honor. After my welcoming remarks, Father Curtis Miller of Corpus Christi Parish offered a blessing of our animals, Pam McGann of Dog Mountain welcomed all of us and thanked us for making Dog Mountain the home of the Jubilee and Allyson McKenna of Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue provided us with an update of current rescue efforts. I then had the privilege of introducing Joy Viola,  President of Friends of Guisachan and Editor of The Golden Retriever - A Scottish Legacy, a book commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the breed.  Joy enlightened us with tidbits of information drawn from her vast and extensive knowledge of how the Golden Retriever came into being and shared many little known facts about the very first families of "yellow retrievers."  After a much deserved round of applause, Joy was presented with a gift as a token of our appreciation.


Laurie Sullivan's Bowie, a three year hemangiosarcoma survivor who has graced the New England Golden Jubilee dance floor since day one, was then officially pronounced the New England Golden Jubilee Freestyle Ambassador. Prizes went to Bekki Tyler's Maggie for travelling the greatest distance to attend, Patty McNaughton's Piper at five months as our youngest attendee and Jean and John Kesensky's Maxwell at 15 years old as our most Senior Attendee. In a moving tribute by Crystal Garman in memory of her beloved Angel Pizzelle, Ruth Carlson's Paddington was presented this year's Tears of Joy Award.  Paddy, at just about nine years old, had just begun his battle with hemangiosarcoma. (Our hope was that Paddington would join us at the Jubilee next year. Yet, together, we will now hold his memory in our collective hearts as the remembrance candle is lit at opening ceremonies next year, for though Paddington's people gave him every weapon available to fight the thief that is hemangiosarcoma, Paddington has crossed the Rainbow Bridge as of this writing.)


Bowie looked on together with the rest of us, as tradition continued and we were graced with repeat dance performances by Laurie Sullivan with Georgia and then with Rico.  All eyes remained fixed on these talented teams and the show was not over yet.  Colin Ladd and the very young Fireball were next up and danced wonderfully together for their very first New England Golden Jubilee performance.


The smell of cheeseburgers and hot dogs filled the air and clearly the time had come for an all-time favorite Golden activity!  In no time at all over 300 hot dogs and cheeseburgers and many salads, drinks and desserts had been consumed. Bellies smiled.  Excitement mounted as time for the Kibble cup auction drew near.  Attendees had been purchasing tickets all day for a chance to win themed baskets of their choosing.  I drew numbers from each cup and in the end we had 48 happy winners!


The ongoing threat of rain may have caused us to adjust the schedule somewhat, but it did nothing to dampen our spirits, and in the end, Mother Nature was kind.  Raindrops began to fall only after we had tossed one hundred tennis balls into the pond to the delight of our beloved breed.


With a debt of gratitude to all of our sponsors, friends and attendees, $2,635.00 has been donated to Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue from the Kibble-Cup Auction; and $2,818.38 has been donated to the Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study from on-line donations as well as those made at the Jubilee.  This donation has also qualified for a matching donation bringing it to a grand total of $5,636.76.


As I begin to plan for next year and what will be our Fifth New England Golden Jubilee, I cannot help but think fondly of each person who worked hard and helped to make the New England Golden Jubilee a success.  It is a labor of love, for sure - love that is full of hope and promise, even as we mourn together the passing of the likes of River, and now Paddington, too .


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