NATIONAL (WCIA) — Golden retrievers have an especially high incidence of cancer which is why the Morris Animal Foundation is conducting the most extensive study ever taken in veterinary medicine.

It’s called the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. It involved 3,000 goldens around the country. One participant lives in Champaign.

The test is a life-long commitment and takes a lot from owners, pets and veterinarians. Owners fill out a 70-page survey each year, so do their veterinarians. It takes a lot of time, but owners say it’s worth it.

They’ll do anything which might give them a better idea why these dogs are so susceptible to cancer.

Luna is a 7-year old golden retriever.

“She is an awesome family dog, just a wonderful little companion” says Sue Johnson, her owner

She likes to play with her toys and cuddle up to her family. But, it hasn’t always been easy.

“In the past year, she’s had three tumors, mass cell tumors and a toe amputated from one of those tumors.”

Anyone who’s dealt with cancer knows it’s a scary word.

“For us, we know that our pets are part of our family.”

It’s why they’re participating in the study.

“Past research shows 60% of the dogs get cancer in their lifetime. When we study cancer, you want a breed that suffers from cancer” said Tiffany Grunert, the CEO of the Morris Animal Foundation.

They’ve sent samples to the Foundation, and so have 3,000 other dogs in the U.S.

“As I learned more about what the study was going to look at throughout their life, I thought how cool is that and the implications of what it might do for cancer research in general.”

It doesn’t just look at what dogs eat or genetics.

“They ask me questions like, how much time is she in the sun and what does she like to sleep on?”

It takes into consideration anything which could cause cancer.

“It’ll support more than goldens. It could help other dogs and could help other species.”

While Luna has suffered from cancer, she’s helping others stop it.

“She has to give a lot of samples, so she’s truly a little hero.”

A hero which could one day help keep other dogs like her healthier; keeping them with their best friends even longer.

The study started in 2012 and takes 14-years, so it’s about halfway done. More than 4,000 samples have already been collected and are being researched.

The study doesn’t accept any more applicants, but Morris does studies on other animals. They eventually hope to have data online for future researchers to look at.

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