EPISODE 210 | RELEASED April 3, 2023
Dog Cancer True Tail: Golden Retriever Hero Indy | Kim Peri & Dr. Mike Lappin
Indy the Golden Retriever was part of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, bringing us another step closer to solving the cancer puzzle. Oh, and he surfed.
Kim Peri is a Golden Retriever lover with a passion for philanthropy and paying it forward. Dr. Mike Lappin is a veterinarian with Goldens and determination to better the health of his breed. How did they meet? Because of Indy the Golden, and an Eagles concert.
Listen in to hear what it is like to be involved in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study as a dog lover and as a veterinarian, as well as some of the things that we have learned so far. The study is ongoing – originally it was going to end when 500 of the enrolled Goldens had been diagnosed with cancer, but it has now been extended to follow all of the enrolled Goldens for their entire lives.
Unfortunately, Indy is one of the Golden Heroes who died of cancer. But the blood work and surveys that he and the other Goldens have contributed are giving researchers lots of information to identify environmental and genetic risk factors for cancer.
Links Mentioned in Today’s Show:
Morris Animal Foundation’s Dog Cancer Research podcast episode: https://www.dogcancer.com/podcast/trials-and-research/morris-animal-foundations-dog-cancer-research-dr-janet-patterson-kane-deep-dive/
Golden Retriever Lifetime Study: https://www.morrisanimalfoundation.org/golden-retriever-lifetime-study
Golden Retriever DNA Repository: https://grca.org/about-the-breed/health-research/dna-repository/
OFA DNA Repository: https://ofa.org/about/dna-repository/
The Golden Retriever Foundation: https://goldenretrieverfoundation.org/GRF/
Canine Valley Fever Project: http://www.caninevalleyfeverproject.com/
PetDx Clinical Studies: https://petdx.com/clinical-studies/
[00:00:00] >> Kim Peri: And Indy said, "There are so many messages, a lifetime of messages. She knows all of them by heart. It has been a fun life. I am tired now and I’m ready to go. You can only do so much with this body. It’s time to shed this body and fly."
[00:00:17] >> Announcer: Welcome to Dog Cancer Answers, where we help you help your dog with cancer.
[00:00:23] >> Molly Jacobson: Hello, friend. I’m Molly Jacobson and today on Dog Cancer Answers, we have a special episode. Back in 2021, we spoke with Dr. Janet Patterson Kane of the Morris Animal Foundation about their Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. Today we are getting a look at what it is like for dog lovers who participate in this study and how the study can shape the lives of both the Goldens and the humans who adore them.
We have two guests, Dr. Mike Lappin, who has several patients enrolled in the study, and Kim Peri, who will share the True Tail of her Golden, Indy. Indy was Golden Hero number 123, and both his time in the study and his cancer diagnosis have been a catalyst for progress in dog cancer research. This is a long episode, but well worth it. Grab a snack and maybe a few tissues because you might need them.
So joining us today for our True Tail of Indy is Kim Peri, Indy’s mom, and Dr. Mike Lappin. And I’m going to have Kim introduce Dr. Mike because Kim, you said this beautiful, before he joined us on the call today, you introduced him this most beautiful way. Tell me about your experience with Dr. Mike Lappin.
[00:01:45] >> Kim Peri: Well, I first met Dr. Mike because the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study that we’re both involved in does a Secret Santa every year. And my first meeting with Dr. Mike was he was my Secret Santa, and there was a photo of Indy that I had taken at a dock diving event, and he, I’m looking up at it now with his, and his bumper. It’s in my room where all my ribbons and photos of my dogs are.
And so I got that as a Secret Santa gift and that sparked our friendship. But then when Indy was diagnosed with lymphoma in the spring of ’21, Dr. Mike helped me with his connections and things like that and he was an integral part of the team, I will say, that helped with his cancer, you know, diagnosis and treatments and you know, just thought processes and just getting insight, ’cause lymphoma is not one of the cancers, although the most treatable cancer, not one of that I’ve experienced and not one that I actually ever wanna go through again if I can help it.
But Dr. Mike was coming to Phoenix because he’s a big Eagles fan and he and his wife follow the Eagles, I call ’em affectionately groupies.
[00:03:00] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Groupies.
[00:03:01] >> Kim Peri: Yes. Um, and they were coming the end of September to see the Eagles and I actually got to meet Dr. Lappin in person at that time. But I know in my heart, and I told him this, that Indy waited until he could see Dr. Lappin before he passed away and before he told me it was time for him to leave.
[00:03:22] >> Molly Jacobson: That’s so beautiful. Dr. Lappin, you are in the Boston area. You’re down in, in the Buzzards Bay area for.
[00:03:29] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yes. Cape Cod.
[00:03:30] >> Molly Jacobson: This.
[00:03:31] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:03:31] >> Molly Jacobson: Cape Cod. Yeah. And your relationship to the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is you contribute to it, you help to run it. There’s all sorts of involvement in there. Can you tell me a little bit about your involvement in the study?
[00:03:45] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yes. As a, a study veterinarian, I started off with 17 heroes in my group, which ended up being the most, the most of any veterinarian in the country.
[00:03:56] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh my.
[00:03:57] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: I wasn’t shooting for that. I just wanted to get all my friends who had Golden Retrievers involved and get them into the, the study, especially once the group had come out to Massachusetts to put on a presentation while they were recruiting. And I went to that and I talked to Dr. Mike Guy who was then the, the lead veterinarian and decided at that time that, you know, I wanted to get as many of my clients who had Goldens involved in the study as I could.
So we just started enrolling them, as I came across them I talked to ’em about it. But not only am I a study veterinarian, but I also have a hero in the group too. So one of my own dogs is, is one of the heroes.
[00:04:39] >> Molly Jacobson: And heroes are what you call the dogs who are enrolled in this. It’s called a lifetime study ’cause it starts at the beginning of life, it’s looking at Goldens over the course of their entire lifetime. Correct?
[00:04:49] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Correct. The initial study enrolled dogs that were between six months and two years of age until they filled with 3000 dogs. And now some of those dogs are 12, most of ’em are 8, 9, 10. But there’s a few dogs that were initially enrolled in the study that are 12. So they’re, you know, the, the guide mark. I mean, these dogs get old for a reason. And that’s what we’re trying to find out.
[00:05:17] >> Molly Jacobson: Trying to find out what is extending life. And by looking at thousands of dogs of the same breed, so you’re looking at a smaller genetic pool than the wider population.
[00:05:26] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Right.
[00:05:26] >> Molly Jacobson: You can learn a lot by eliminating all of those other genetic factors, right, about what works, maybe what’s not so helpful, for life longevity.
[00:05:36] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Right. Initially the study was going to be set up to stop when they reached 500 dogs of the four major cancer types that we’re studying, and that being hemangiosarcoma, and lymphoma, and mast cell tumor, and, um, osteosarcoma. But recently, in the last few months, they’ve decided to continue the study past the endpoint until all of the heroes have passed.
[00:06:08] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh, wonderful.
[00:06:09] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: So it’s an extension. It’s an extension of the initial study. Yeah. Really.
[00:06:14] >> Molly Jacobson: That’s wonderful.
[00:06:15] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yes.
[00:06:15] >> Molly Jacobson: So what prompted that decision?
[00:06:18] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: I think some of it was prompted by the fact that, like I said before, these older dogs get old and stay healthy for a reason.
[00:06:27] >> Molly Jacobson: Right.
[00:06:28] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: And what we’re trying to do is think about what’s in their genetic profile that’s different? Why do they survive when so many of the others pass away?
[00:06:37] >> Molly Jacobson: Now, do you think there’s also a difference in, ’cause I imagine that everybody’s feeding their dogs a little bit differently. Some dogs get more or less exercise. Some, you know, like different environments they’re living in. You’re tracking all of that as well?
[00:06:52] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yes. Yeah, they have, they have so many different data points on things like what heartworm medication you use, what flea and tick medication you use, is your dog primarily on grass when it goes outside or is it on bare ground, do they go in the woods, you know, even down to things like what kind of dish do you feed your dog in, is it glass, is it plastic, is it metal?
[00:07:16] >> Molly Jacobson: Right.
[00:07:17] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: So they’re, they’re collecting all of these data points and now are utilizing all the data points that they have to have researchers come and use those data points to try to put things together and maybe get some ideas of what may cause or not cause things to happen.
[00:07:35] >> Molly Jacobson: So it’s spurring other trials, I imagine, and also maybe giving some really concrete actionable items for veterinarians like yourself to pass on to dog owners.
[00:07:46] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Right.
[00:07:46] >> Molly Jacobson: Okay. Can we talk a little bit about what you personally have learned and what the study’s learned so far over the course of this study? I also wanna talk about Indy, of course.
[00:07:56] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yes.
[00:07:57] >> Molly Jacobson: But this is definitely something we wanna talk about in this show, and so it’d be really great. What have you learned as a veterinarian, so far, from your participation?
[00:08:07] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Well, things that we’ve learned, you know, to go back to like non-cancer stuff, is one of the big things was early spay/neuter and determining whether there were things that happened or didn’t happen when dogs were spayed or neutered before age of maturity and basically found out, yes, there are some problems that can occur.
In Goldens, we find higher incidence of osteosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma in older dogs that have been spayed or neutered before the year of age. We also find increased incidence of hip dysplasia, cruciate ligament disease, orthopedic disorders as a result of them having altered growth rates. Because when they spay or neuter them before their bone plates close, those have the tendency to grow bigger. So you get a dog that looks like a, like a dragster.
[00:09:03] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh.
[00:09:04] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: With a, you know, a higher rear end. So it throws their whole, throws their whole balance off of how the joints come together, the angles that they have, and causes problems with the way that they’re supposed to be versus the altered way.
[00:09:19] >> Molly Jacobson: I see. So that is a very important finding. And I know when, you know, this was suspected for a long time, but it was sort of unorthodox and there were a lot of people who just thought, no. Early spay and neuter is important for population control and all of the reasons it is important, but these health consequences were sort of dismissed for a while. But we now know that on a statistical basis these things are correlated.
[00:09:45] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Right.
[00:09:46] >> Molly Jacobson: To those early spay and neuter.
[00:09:47] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Right.
[00:09:48] >> Molly Jacobson: So when do you recommend a spay or neuter happen based on what you’ve found out?
[00:09:53] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: My personal recommendations are for males, if they’re not causing issues with aggression or being a total dork, is to leave them intact. You know?
[00:10:05] >> Molly Jacobson: Okay.
[00:10:05] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: I mean, I’ve had a number of intact males together at my house, and they get along fine. That’s a matter of training and well, for the most part. You do run into some dogs that are aggressive, towards other dogs or towards people, those dogs should be neutered, but we generally recommend a minimum of 18 months of age. Females, it goes a little differently because you’ve got a female cycling and we know from research that the more times that they cycle, the higher the incidences of mammary cancer.
[00:10:40] >> Molly Jacobson: Right.
[00:10:40] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: So, you know, there’s two thoughts about that. One, mammary cancer is something that most of the time you can resect and do a mastectomy and get away from it. Some types are highly malignant.
[00:10:54] >> Molly Jacobson: Right.
[00:10:55] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: And we don’t know until we take them off, which they are, but we know that the more times they go through season, the more chance they have of developing that.
[00:11:04] >> Molly Jacobson: Right.
[00:11:04] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Also, leaving them intact has a greater risk of developing pyometra which is a uterine infection as they get older, and oftentimes those end up in emergency situations.
[00:11:14] >> Molly Jacobson: Right.
[00:11:15] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: That require emergency surgery. They can be treated medically if the dogs are not really awful sick, but the propensity is there for them to develop it because they’re still intact and they’re still gonna cycle. Dogs do not go through a menopause like female humans do, so they never stop cycling. It’ll become erratic as they get older. But I’ve seen dogs that are cycling 10, 12 years of age. And some of them are lucky and don’t have any mammary cancer. Others are not so lucky.
But minimum age for female, I generally recommend them going through at least one season, preferably two or three. My own personal experience with my own dogs is I have ’em go through three cycles before I spay ’em.
[00:12:02] >> Molly Jacobson: That seems very reasonable. So they get to become an adult.
[00:12:06] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Right.
[00:12:07] >> Molly Jacobson: A real woman.
[00:12:08] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: They get to mature. They get that hormone flush that closes those bone plates and finishes off their growth phase.
[00:12:15] >> Molly Jacobson: Right. And then we can eliminate the reproductive cycle.
[00:12:20] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Then you can do the sterilization.
[00:12:21] >> Molly Jacobson: You can do the sterilization, and then you’re reducing the risk of mammary cancer later on.
[00:12:26] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Right.
[00:12:26] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. My understanding is that after the sixth cycle, the risk is sort of locked in. Like you can reduce risk up until the sixth cycle, and then.
[00:12:36] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: It starts to go up after the third cycle.
[00:12:39] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah.
[00:12:39] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: And kind of maximizes when you get out about six. Yeah.
[00:12:42] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. Okay.
[00:12:43] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: You, you don’t really change the risk after that point.
[00:12:46] >> Molly Jacobson: Right. Spaying after the third cycle, for you.
[00:12:49] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:12:49] >> Molly Jacobson: Makes sense because it.
[00:12:50] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Right.
[00:12:50] >> Molly Jacobson: They’re adults and that’s where their risk for mammary cancer is lowest and you sort of lock ’em in at that risk level.
[00:12:57] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Right.
[00:12:57] >> Molly Jacobson: Very helpful. Is there anything else that you’ve learned over the course of the lifetime study that you wanna share with our audience?
[00:13:06] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Well, we’ve learned that cancer is awful and it’s heartbreaking and it’s tragic and.
[00:13:11] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah.
[00:13:11] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: We wanna get rid of it. And, and.
[00:13:13] >> Molly Jacobson: Yes.
[00:13:13] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: You know, we’re just, you know, we’ve all been affected by it. You know, I’ve had dogs with pretty much every form of cancer that there is, but the breed you love, it is one that you have to realize that those risks are there when you get one of these puppies, because you don’t know how long you’re gonna have them. But realizing that, the study has shown us a lot of data points that will help into the future to help determine, we just have to go through and find out the important parts of them and that’s what’s being done now.
[00:13:46] >> Molly Jacobson: Okay. So other concrete points are still being looked at.
[00:13:51] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:13:51] >> Molly Jacobson: Right now we know for sure that early spay and neuter is something to reconsider or to consider very carefully on an individual dog.
[00:13:59] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:14:00] >> Molly Jacobson: So helpful. So when you met Kim’s dog Indy, it sounds like it was later in life, but where do you remember coming into Indy’s story?
[00:14:09] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Well, like Kim said, you know, we, we kind of got acquainted when I saw this picture on her website of Indy with a bumper in his mouth and you know, after dock diving and swimming through the water. And I just thought it was a really awesome picture. She was my Secret Santa recipient that year, and I had just bought a large format color photo printer.
[00:14:33] >> Molly Jacobson: Aha.
[00:14:34] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: And I said, aha.
[00:14:36] >> Molly Jacobson: I get to play with my toy.
[00:14:37] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: I get to play with my toy. So, so I had to, I had to get a little help from the elves that they have helping out to get, you know, a good size file so I could put this on like a 13 by 16 print. And then framed it and sent it to her.
[00:14:55] >> Molly Jacobson: Wonderful. Wonderful.
[00:14:56] >> Kim Peri: And that year I, I was one of the elves and helping with Secret Santa, and I had no idea that Dr. Mike was, um, my Secret Santa until I opened it. So.
[00:15:09] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh, that is so sweet.
[00:15:10] >> Kim Peri: But we also did other things together, like, you know, secretly on Facebook Messenger, if I have a question, I’d say, sorry to bother you, but, um, so we struck up a friendship and had conversations, you know, outside and just ask questions that way. And then in 2019, when I came to my first Golden Retriever National, Dr. Mike was doing the samples there that he does at the National, and we met in person at that time as well.
[00:15:42] >> Molly Jacobson: Wonderful. So, Dr. Mike, you collect, the samples are the DNA samples that you collect to.
[00:15:48] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Right.
[00:15:48] >> Molly Jacobson: Help with, so tell me a little bit about that work.
[00:15:51] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: That is separate from the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.
[00:15:55] >> Molly Jacobson: Right.
[00:15:55] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: But the Golden Retriever Club of America was approached in 2005 by OFA, Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, about helping to start a DNA repository. Basically a bank where you can submit, put in DNA samples, and then those samples become available for researchers to use for studies that OFA approves of.
So we were one of three breeds that agreed to help OFA start this just as a project to see how it would work and the logistics. So in 2005 at the Golden Retriever National Specialty Show, we set up a collection clinic to collect DNA samples from dogs. And with the help of the Golden Retriever Foundation, we made it possible for those samples to be collected for free.
So it was like, okay, here’s a free opportunity to put this DNA in, in a bank. So we did that. Eddie Dziuk, who’s the CEO at OFA, actually came to Gettysburg where we were having the show and helped out, and we collected 600 dogs in three days and collected their DNA and sent it back. And that was the start of, of the OFA DNA bank.
[00:17:17] >> Molly Jacobson: That’s a lot of DNA.
[00:17:19] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah. As of now, we have, I think we’re over 6,000 samples now. We’ve been doing it every year at the National Specialty, and then some of the regional specialties will also offer that, and individual clubs, if they’re doing a health clinic, can also offer that, and we subsidize it through the Golden Retriever Foundation so the cost to the owners is zero, and really the only expenses are for the club to ship the samples out to OFA and then find somebody to draw the blood samples.
[00:17:51] >> Molly Jacobson: The more DNA that we have in these banks, the more studies, the more science can be done years later.
[00:17:57] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Right. The big thing about having the DNA in a bank is that a lot of research projects prior to that point, each researcher would have to go out, recruit his own samples, and you might get a dog that’s, you know, giving to this sample and that sample and it takes time, especially in breeds of dogs that are pretty rare and there’s not many individuals to collect samples for certain studies. Where by doing a bank we can put the DNA in the bank, it’s there, it’s probably for the most part, what we give them is endless.
They’re not gonna run out. And they can release samples that have been there for years and be able to release a sample for testing that might only be a few months old, that’s something new. So that you can take some of these dogs that may have been dead 10 or 20 years now and be able to test those dogs for certain diseases to try and trace things along.
[00:18:59] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. So it really helps to shorten that timeline so that the, from the idea and saying, I have an idea for a study, I have to recruit, then I have to set up all of those steps, that first part can sometimes really hold things up if you can’t get a large enough sample.
[00:19:15] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Right.
[00:19:15] >> Molly Jacobson: Size, and large enough.
[00:19:16] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: What OFA does is they have a little survey that they do with each sample and ask the owners to say, you know, does your have, dog have this disease, this disease, or, you know, problem or, or condition so that they can be able to selectively pick samples and say, okay, I need 400 Golden Retriever samples with hypothyroidism.
[00:19:39] >> Molly Jacobson: Wow.
[00:19:39] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: As a base. And they can just pull out those samples and just ignore the other ones.
[00:19:43] >> Molly Jacobson: Wow. This is wonderful.
[00:19:45] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:19:45] >> Molly Jacobson: So the, the satisfaction as a dog lover that I get is that this isn’t directly helping my dog, but it’s helping who knows how many dogs in the future.
[00:19:55] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: And people too as well, you know, with diseases. Yeah.
[00:19:58] >> Kim Peri: Yeah. And, you know, given that the pedigrees are tightly aligned, when you look at Golden Retrievers and the breeding programs, you know, just as, as an example, my current male, Wave, my adult, he goes back to very old lines. And so you can look up those, you know, five generation pedigrees on a database that’s called K9 Data, and there are other breeds that use K9 Data as well.
But for Golden Retrievers, you know, that’s part of the research too, to look at the DNA and use those samples and genetic disorders. And it comes in also an alignment, you know, with breeding, you know, for hemangio, you know what lines are more prevalent to hemangio. There’s certain lines that are, you see it in the dogs, uh, generation after generation. So having those DNA samples, you know, you can help a host of different dogs.
[00:20:58] >> Molly Jacobson: Right. This is really wonderful work. How can people find you, Dr. Mike, so you can take their dog’s DNA?
[00:21:05] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Well, basically when we do a clinic, we’ll set up a clinic and publicize the clinic through like the premium list for the National Specialty and things like that so that people are aware of, we’re having a mass collection clinic. People can have their dog’s DNA submitted to OFA. It’s a $20 charge to have a blood sample submitted. And their own veterinarian can draw the blood and they can send it in through the US mail.
[00:21:32] >> Molly Jacobson: Okay.
[00:21:32] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: So it’s something that if you go to the ofa.org
[00:21:38] >> Molly Jacobson: We’ll put the link on our show notes. Yeah.
[00:21:41] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah. You can find out information about the DNA repository, you can get an application from them and have your, your vet draw the blood and send it in.
[00:21:51] >> Molly Jacobson: Okay. Is the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study still recruiting dogs as well?
[00:21:57] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: No, the Lifetime Study closed, I don’t remember the exact year, but like eight years ago. Closed to enrollment when we got to a total of 3044 dogs.
[00:22:09] >> Kim Peri: Right.
[00:22:09] >> Molly Jacobson: That’s a lot of dogs.
[00:22:10] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:22:11] >> Molly Jacobson: How many of those dogs are still with us?
[00:22:15] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Well, as of last night, they have.
[00:22:20] >> Molly Jacobson: Breaking news.
[00:22:21] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: They have a website, actually, that updates daily.
[00:22:24] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh, okay.
[00:22:25] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: With the, um, the study enrollments. And currently out of the initial 3044, there are 1,851 dogs alive and still enrolled. They have 720 dogs that have passed away.
[00:22:42] >> Molly Jacobson: Okay.
[00:22:43] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: There’s 351 dogs that are inactive and 122 dogs that were withdrawn from the study.
[00:22:50] >> Molly Jacobson: Okay.
[00:22:50] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: And most of the withdrawns were people they, you know, after they got into it and they didn’t have the time or they didn’t wanna take the time for stuff, or in some cases, dogs that had started out, say with a breeder, were placed with a new owner and they decided not to continue.
[00:23:08] >> Molly Jacobson: I see.
[00:23:09] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: But that’s a pretty low number. 122 out of 3000.
[00:23:12] >> Molly Jacobson: Absolutely. Because it does take a bit of involvement. Kim, why don’t you talk a little bit or tell us what it’s like to be a mom of a dog in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study?
[00:23:24] >> Kim Peri: I always dreaded the annual questionnaire, um, because of the fact, I mean, they’ve simplified it greatly, you know, they’ve done a good job in, in simplifying it for owners. But, you know, I got Indy at eight weeks old. I was involved in rescue and after my first male, that’s how I came to love the males in the breed because they’re more Velcro-ey than the females. The boys are like, you wanna do it this way? You wanna do it this way? You wanna do it this way? Okay, okay, okay. And the girls are like, you want me to do what?
So after my first male passed away, and he was a rescue, I decided that I wanted to know what I was getting and I sought out breeders locally and went through the local club here, the breed club here, the Valle Del Sol Golden Retriever Club. I interviewed them and they interviewed me. And I was supposed to get a dog from a another breeder, but I needed a male.
And the likelihood of a male coming, ’cause there was only two, maybe two, maybe three, were slimmer. And then Indy’s breeder finally called me one day and said, I can’t remember if I contacted you, you know, Gina’s pregnant, the mother, and there’s 10. She said, are you still interested? And I said, absolutely. So Indy was born on March 2nd, 2011 and he was known as Big Blue.
When he came home he was 15 pounds. And initially I was looking for a therapy dog ’cause that’s what my other male was. But somebody that I know said, you know, you’d look really cute running around the ring in a suit with your hair in a bun. And so he opened my eyes to a whole different world, including the club, whereas one person who does advertisements for the Golden Retriever News, the GR News, she talked about the study and the recruitment. And this is before it opened.
And so I was piqued. My interest was piqued because all of my dogs had died of, you know, one type of cancer or another prior to Indy and there were four of them. So I wanted to make a difference. Um, I’m kind of an outlier as an owner. I’m not your average Joe dog owner. I thought we could provide diversity to the study. I’m a raw feeder. I’ve been, you know, feeding raw for about 20 years. I’m a minimalist in, in vaccines and things like that. So as an owner, I was really excited, you know, to be part of the study.
And we actually tried to get into the pilot program and there were so many people at that time trying to get into the study when it opened that we couldn’t even get into the website. So how you know a dog is an older dog in the study other than their birthdate is by their hero number. And so Indy’s hero number was hero number 123.
And so I think a lot of people remembered that because it was an easy number to remember too, other than, you know, all the things that we did. So, you know, we did the annual study, you know, the questionnaire, and it took forever to fill out because of all the things I do do, you know, and where my dogs sleep and the bowls that I feed from and you know, all the supplements, I had to go put ’em all on the counter, you know, and in order to, or take a picture of them in order to be able to fill out the study.
It took me about two or three days before, I couldn’t do it all at one sitting. It’s like 10 pages, right, Dr. Mike?
[00:26:51] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:26:52] >> Kim Peri: Yeah.
[00:26:52] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Which cookies did you give and how many hours apart were they?
[00:26:55] >> Kim Peri: Yeah.
[00:26:56] >> Molly Jacobson: And this is over the course of a year, so you’re looking back over the previous year?
[00:26:59] >> Kim Peri: Mm-hmm.
[00:27:00] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:27:00] >> Molly Jacobson: Okay. Yeah. So that’s a lot of memory work.
[00:27:03] >> Kim Peri: Oh yeah, it is. Yeah.
[00:27:05] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: And that, and that, you know, I have another friend who dropped out particularly for that reason was that, that just the, the survey was just so time consuming. And she didn’t change her regimen from year to year, but they wouldn’t allow you to say you did the same thing as last year, take the same information. You had to fill it all out over and over again.
[00:27:26] >> Kim Peri: Yeah.
[00:27:27] >> Molly Jacobson: Well they wanted to make sure you were doing the memory work.
[00:27:29] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Right.
[00:27:29] >> Molly Jacobson: So that if something different happened.
[00:27:31] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yep.
[00:27:32] >> Molly Jacobson: You would be able to record that. Yeah.
[00:27:33] >> Kim Peri: Right.
[00:27:34] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Rather than come back later and say, oops, I forgot I changed this.
[00:27:38] >> Molly Jacobson: Right. But it is a time commitment for sure.
[00:27:40] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:27:41] >> Molly Jacobson: What else did you have to do to be in this study?
[00:27:44] >> Kim Peri: Um, we had to find a veterinarian that was willing to be part of the study, like Dr. Mike and my veterinarian here, Dr. Ferguson. I’ve known her for probably 20 years. We pretty much go by first name like I do with Dr. Mike. And she was, you know, interested in helping. And I can remember like the first time that she did the study visit, it took like an entire day for her because it was a long process. They have to collect nails.
And then she complained because he was a show dog, that his nails were too short, so she couldn’t get clippings.
[00:28:21] >> Molly Jacobson: She couldn’t clip ’em.
[00:28:22] >> Kim Peri: Yeah. Um, and fecal and urine samples and hair samples. And I was very particular because I didn’t want him shaved because he was a show dog. And just inputting the data on their side, you know, was very laborious. I think Dr. Mike would agree, it’s more streamlined now, but it still takes a bit of time.
[00:28:43] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah. In the beginning, the owner’s survey was taking five, six hours probably total, and our veterinary survey after the exam was probably taking an hour, hour and a half for each dog. Now we’ve gone to a much more streamlined setup and the veterinary survey now, I can probably finish in 15 minutes unless we have a whole bunch of new lumps or something to report.
[00:29:11] >> Molly Jacobson: Okay. So that sounds much more helpful.
[00:29:14] >> Kim Peri: Yeah.
[00:29:14] >> Molly Jacobson: I imagine technology has been an aid as it’s developed over the decades. Yeah.
[00:29:19] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: In the beginning, Morris had the, um, data set all being done by an outside facility. You know, and we kept talking to ’em about this is just way too hard for the owners, it’s just time consuming. Why can’t they just put in a check mark and say this is the same as it was last year. And they did a bunch of data work and then brought everything in-house and that’s when they started to streamline things. And it’s gotten much better since then.
[00:29:45] >> Molly Jacobson: No that’s nice. So these visits, was it once a year? Was it every six months?
[00:29:50] >> Kim Peri: It’s once a year that we would go. I mean, and you know, when we are, were originally accepted into this study, you know, they hadn’t obviously reached their 3000 number yet, and staff of Morris has changed over the years. But I think one of the things that I can say about this study is that are, there are people in the 48 contiguous states that I will never meet, like I’m looking at you today, Molly. I’ve had the pleasure and I’m grateful for my friendship with Dr. Mike and I’ve had that opportunity to meet him and, you know, his wife and their friends.
But, we call ourselves a family and we say that we’re 3000 strong. And part of the impact that I was alluding to before that I didn’t know that I had or Indy had until he passed away was that, you know, when I posted about, you know, losing him, people said to me that – sorry, this part is hard. Um, that I joined the study because of you.
[00:30:57] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh.
[00:30:58] >> Kim Peri: Because I helped recruit locally. I held an event here in Phoenix at the company that I was working for at the time and recruited people. And you know, some of those people are local and I’m friends with them, but if it was not for the study, I would never know them. I would never know that they have Golden Retrievers.
And we call ourselves a family and we are. We cheer, you know, Wave, my current male is a support known as a supporter, and so is his son, Cruizer. And we cheer those triumphs that we have and you know, our successes for those that do competitive dog sports. We cheer us on. And even those like Pam, Dr. Mike?
[00:31:46] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Bentley.
[00:31:46] >> Kim Peri: Um, Bentley.
[00:31:47] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:31:48] >> Kim Peri: He’s a dog that will, I think will make an impact for years to come after he passes because every morning his mom, in the winter, and I think they live in Wisconsin or Minnesota, Bentley loves to slide down the hill in their backyard on his back in the winter, and every single day she goes out.
[00:32:07] >> Molly Jacobson: He’s a slalom dog.
[00:32:08] >> Kim Peri: Yeah, he’s a slalom dog. And she goes and takes a video and she posts it on our page. We have a Facebook page that’s private for 3000 family members. And we have multiple Facebook pages. We have the 3000 Strong page. We have the 3000 Hearts page, and we have the Embrace 3000 page on Facebook. And those are for people involved in the study. Hearts is where they do the cards, right, Dr. Mike?
[00:32:37] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yes.
[00:32:38] >> Kim Peri: Yeah.
[00:32:38] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:32:38] >> Kim Peri: So they send out cards. They have these comfort blankets and they’re laced with what we call GMFs, which are known as Golden Magical Fibers, for somebody who has had a cancer diagnosis themselves or their husband is ill. And people you know that are owners in the study, they contribute to those banks to be able to make those.
And like at the National in 2019, I collected GMFs and I sent them to somebody who is now a friend of mine. We talk almost every day and she lives in North Dakota and her name is Genell Bogner and she helps with those blankets. And then when a dog passes, she sends, if she has GMFs, she sends those GMFs in a card to the owner so they have that. So the impact of the study to an owner is just more than just having a dog and being part of a study. It’s about being part of a family and having a connection because it’s just, it’s not just a dog.
You know, these dogs are our lives and they bring joy and they bring heartbreak and sorrow along with that joy. But I never knew the impact that Indy had and the breadth and depth that he had until he passed away. And the people that followed us – I taught a dog in Arizona how to surf, and we competed in Imperial Beach three years in a row and people followed our story. I posted every day when we went to California up and coming to, you know, the surfing competition and people watched us and they cheered us on and, you know, helped recruit dogs for the study.
I was even asked at the five year anniversary to participate in that celebration and Indy flew with me in the cabin and I organized a dock diving event for all the people that came to that celebration. That was my day. That was what I did. And we got to meet people from all over the country and we celebrated, not only these friendships that we made, but these dogs and these dogs’ lives. Like Cathy Blimline, right, Dr. Mike?
[00:34:57] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Mm-hmm.
[00:34:57] >> Kim Peri: And Mark Blimline. I met them at the five year celebration and their dog, Gideon, he’s gone to the National and now he’s, uh, you know, got hunting titles and he’s got rally titles and he’s got agility titles. I would’ve never met her if it’s not for the study. So we keep close-knit. We are a family. That’s what we say. We’re 3000 strong. And in fact, I wore my Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime.
[00:35:26] >> Molly Jacobson: I see it.
[00:35:26] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:35:26] >> Kim Peri: You know, um.
[00:35:27] >> Molly Jacobson: Yes.
[00:35:27] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yep.
[00:35:27] >> Kim Peri: It’s a sweatshirt today.
[00:35:29] >> Molly Jacobson: Your sweatshirt. I love it.
[00:35:30] >> Kim Peri: On purpose. We do fundraising every year they do ornaments and things like that. So I, even though my Indy is gone, our saying in the study is, once a hero, always a hero. To the point that the Golden Retriever Club of America, the GRCA, recognizes that, and when each dog passes, they send the owner a certificate. I think it’s a certificate of achievement. Right, Dr. Mike?
[00:35:58] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Mm-hmm.
[00:35:59] >> Kim Peri: For participating in this study that is a groundbreaking, it’s the only study of its kind that is a longitudinal study, in, I think in the world.
[00:36:09] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:36:09] >> Kim Peri: And it’s, it’s a groundbreaking study and to be part of that and to make a difference and that, for me, as I believe strongly in philanthropy, and that is a big part of who I am and my makeup is, you know, being philanthropic. And Indy will make a difference for the rest of not only my life, but many generations to come. And to say that I was part of that gives me great pride and I’m very grateful.
[00:36:37] >> Molly Jacobson: It’s an amazing, amazing effort and study, and I’m so glad to talk to the two of you. We’ve talked to people from Morris about the study before, but I’m not sure we’ve quite tapped into this deep vein of love and trust that this study has built. I have to ask you a clarifying question, are Golden Magical Fibers hair?
[00:37:01] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yes.
[00:37:02] >> Kim Peri: Yes.
[00:37:03] >> Molly Jacobson: Okay. I just wanted to make sure I understood that.
[00:37:06] >> Kim Peri: Yep.
[00:37:06] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yep.
[00:37:06] >> Molly Jacobson: That’s beautiful.
[00:37:09] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: We collect the ones that don’t turn up under the beds as dust bunnies.
[00:37:14] >> Molly Jacobson: Right.
[00:37:14] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: And send those in.
[00:37:16] >> Kim Peri: Yeah.
[00:37:16] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: So that we can share our Golden Magical Fibers with other people. So they can have some of the magic.
[00:37:23] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah, that makes sense to me. I’m sort of a small breed person. I’ve always had smaller breeds, but there’s definitely magic in a Golden’s fur. Anybody who’s ever seen a Golden walking by in the sunlight knows that.
[00:37:37] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:37:38] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. That’s beautiful. We’re going to take a short break to hear from our sponsors and when we return, I wanna talk about Indy’s cancer diagnosis and how being a part of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study affected that part of your journey.
We’re back with Kim Peri, mom to Indy the Golden, and Dr. Mike Lappin. So tell me a little bit about Indy, Kim, and about Indy’s illness when he was diagnosed. How did that change for you? How did being a participant in the study change when he got the cancer the study’s focusing on trying to understand better?
[00:38:15] >> Kim Peri: Well, you know, in the beginning I was trying to figure out what was going on with him. There were a couple things that were just off. Like I never knew lymphoma could affect the eyes. And looking back retrospectively, you know, and thinking back, um, hindsight being 20/20 you know, I’ve, I had asked a couple of people like, ’cause Indy was never, I don’t strike my dogs at all, you know, and so he grew up in a household where he was loved and Indy was larger than life. I, I’m sure Dr. Mike would say that even when he met him in September of last year.
[00:38:51] >> Molly Jacobson: His nickname as an infant was Big Blue.
[00:38:53] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yes.
[00:38:54] >> Kim Peri: So he much preferred humans to other dogs and he made that known with the people that he surrounded himself with. But early on, before we actually got the diagnosis, I noticed, like when I went to raise my hand towards his face, he would squint.
[00:39:12] >> Molly Jacobson: Hmm.
[00:39:12] >> Kim Peri: And I, I thought maybe something was wrong with his vision. But hindsight being 20/20 again, that was the lymphoma. And I, I didn’t know that. And I talked to our ophthalmologist at, you know, when we were trying to figure everything out. And in Arizona, Valley Fever is something that’s endemic to the state, the Southwestern United States.
And so there is another study that Indy and Wave are part of called the Canine Valley Fever Project. And so we would run the Valley Fever profile twice a year, but I’m, because I know the people that run that study, I talked to them and asked them if I could run a full blood panel. And you do that annually, but because Indy was in the study, he actually, they had that through, you know, the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. So I asked them for special permission to do that.
And then lo and behold, his lymphocyte count was elevated to around 12,000, where a normal is around a thousand to 5,000 at the highest level. And that’s when I reached out to Dr. Mike and Dr. Ferguson, my vet, called me and then we got in to see our oncologist and per, you know, Dr. Mike’s urging and then trying to figure out what was going on.
So, fortunately because of the study and because of, you know, the local breed club here and Dr. Ferguson and just knowing people, I was in the right time at the right place. ‘Cause unfortunately, we only have two oncologists in the entire Phoenix Metro area. One of them you probably have heard of Molly, is Dr. Betsy Hershey.
[00:40:52] >> Molly Jacobson: Yes.
[00:40:52] >> Kim Peri: And she, um, she has to pick and choose who she can see because all the cancer that runs in dogs, but I know her office manager, she’s a member of our club, I’ve known her through rescue. And we were able to get in within two days. And so, they, um.
[00:41:09] >> Molly Jacobson: It’s good to know people.
[00:41:10] >> Kim Peri: Yeah. You know, my grandfather.
[00:41:11] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Absolutely.
[00:41:12] >> Kim Peri: My grandfather always said, it’s never what you know, it’s always who you know.
[00:41:16] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Who you know.
[00:41:17] >> Molly Jacobson: Who you know.
[00:41:17] >> Kim Peri: Right. I’m Sicilian. So I think that’s very appropo in, in my culture. Um, so we got in and they did some more testing, and I don’t know. Dr. Mike, did we do the biopsy first or we contacted Morris, you know, to do, we did a fine needle aspirate and then we did.
[00:41:40] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Right.
[00:41:40] >> Kim Peri: A larger biopsy to determine. And we sent the, you know, the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study equips study participants, owners, with two boxes. One for a biopsy kit and one for a necropsy kit. And so those biopsies are paid for by the foundation. So I took the, the biopsy kit to Dr. Ferguson. They sent in a sample and then they did a number of testing and then Dr. Hershey did additional testing and initially the diagnosis came back as, uh, aggressive T-cell lymphoma.
And I think there was, Dr. Mike, if you remember, I think there was an aspect of leukemia or we weren’t sure at that time.
[00:42:25] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah, because his lymphocyte count went up to like 50,000 or so as I recall. Where his white, total white count was elevated. So we were concerned about possibility of leukemia as well as lymphoma because he had to, uh, he had started to get his lymph nodes enlarged.
[00:42:42] >> Molly Jacobson: Okay.
[00:42:43] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: So that was where the fine needle aspirations came from. But because there was also the potential there for leukemia. And part of the problem when you have a dog that shows these signs is you don’t really know whether they have one disease or two diseases that are concurrent.
[00:43:02] >> Molly Jacobson: And knowing that would help you to decide what kind of treatments.
[00:43:06] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Right.
[00:43:06] >> Molly Jacobson: And also prognosis, like what, what we’re looking at.
[00:43:09] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Prognosis, prognosis probably more than treatment because for the most part, treatment of lymphoma is very similar for all the different forms of it.
[00:43:17] >> Molly Jacobson: Right.
[00:43:18] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: But you know, if you’ve got a dog that develops a leukemia, that can be much more serious because it can progress much more rapidly.
[00:43:26] >> Kim Peri: Yeah. So, you know, between my holistic vet, Dr. Ferguson, Dr. Mike, and Dr. Mike put me in touch with Dr. Modiano at University of Minnesota, he connected us, and Dr. Jarvis, who’s our canine conditioning coach, but she did general practice, it was a village. And, you know, everybody opined and, and they only wanted the best they had Indy’s best interests at heart. And so Indy did not present like a normal T-cell lymphoma.
[00:43:58] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: What’s, what’s normal?
[00:44:00] >> Kim Peri: Yeah.
[00:44:00] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: I would say typical.
[00:44:02] >> Kim Peri: Typical.
[00:44:03] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yes.
[00:44:03] >> Molly Jacobson: Okay.
[00:44:03] >> Kim Peri: Typical T-cell. So we decided after talking to Dr. Modiano to do additional testing, and they did another type of biopsy and they sent that to Dr. Moore at UC Davis. So when originally Indy was treated with, you know, what’s considered the gold standard, which is the CHOP protocol. And his numbers did drop, but then not long into the diagnosis, because of the biopsy they did, and because he didn’t present as a typical lymphoma case, they opted to change the diagnosis to indolent T-zone lymphoma.
And I was like, okay, if I have to have cancer, I’ll take this over anything, you know.
[00:44:51] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: That’s a better type to have because.
[00:44:52] >> Kim Peri: That’s a better type and so.
[00:44:54] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: It’s much slower.
[00:44:55] >> Kim Peri: Right. So they initially started him on pred. We did three treatments of the CHOP protocol and before we got to the doxorubicin, the fourth one, then they changed the chemo protocol to chlorambucil.
[00:45:09] >> Molly Jacobson: Okay. And that was because of the change in diagnosis?
[00:45:11] >> Kim Peri: Yes. Yeah. And then.
[00:45:13] >> Molly Jacobson: Okay.
[00:45:13] >> Kim Peri: During that time, Indy did respond, you know, his numbers dropped, but he never, we never were able to get him to drop enough where he was considered in remission. So initial diagnosis was April, May timeframe. You know, June, July, his numbers dropped with the chlorambucil. And then in August, they spiked again. And yeah, August, September. In the meantime, I also sought other modalities of treatment. I talked to a gentleman by the name of Charles Lozow. He has a company called Right:Ratio.
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him before, but they’d custom develop a formula that’s combined with, you know, the medicinal properties of THC and CBD that are specific to each dog. And when then we saw his numbers drop again. And then in September after we did the testing, the numbers went up.
You know, they raised a little bit and in August, and then the numbers went up in September. And, you know, during that time, Indy and I, I, in some ways I’m so grateful for COVID because I, uh, well now I’m full-time remote with the company that I work for, but if it wasn’t for COVID, I wouldn’t have been able to do all the things that I did for Indy because I would’ve had to be in the office.
But I was home with him full-time. And he required a lot of care. There were a lot more supplements, you know, because of my holistic vet. Because I do both eastern and western medicine. Um, Dr. Mike knows that. I’m not your average Joe dog owner again. So I did everything that I could do and tried everything to find, you know, that I could help him.
The outcome is still the same, you know, but it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. And I wanted him to live his best life for how long, ever long he chose to be here. And through the guidance of my holistic veterinarian, you know, he and I had many conversations and I told him many times to help me help him. ‘Cause I knew that he would stay for me. He was just that dog.
[00:47:26] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah.
[00:47:26] >> Kim Peri: Um, that he would stay because of me. And so I had to tell him to tell me when it was time, and that it’s okay that I would be sad, but when it was time for him to leave, he needed to help me so that I could help him make, you know, with that decision.
[00:47:43] >> Molly Jacobson: And this was a conversation you were having with your veterinarian or with Indy?
[00:47:47] >> Kim Peri: With Indy.
[00:47:49] >> Molly Jacobson: With Indy, yeah.
[00:47:49] >> Kim Peri: Yeah, with Indy.
[00:47:51] >> Molly Jacobson: So I’ve had that conversation with my dogs too. Like, you’re gonna be the one in charge of this and
[00:47:56] >> Kim Peri: Right.
[00:47:56] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. You really have to tell me.
[00:47:59] >> Kim Peri: Right.
[00:48:00] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah.
[00:48:01] >> Kim Peri: And Dr. Mike told me that he was coming in September. They actually were here for the Eagles concert. And I kept telling my other friend who lives in Maine, who’s also a holistic veterinarian, and she can communicate to animals. And I kept telling her, I just have this feeling that he’s waiting for Dr. Mike. And sure enough, yeah. I mean, when you saw him, right, Dr. Mike, you were surprised.
[00:48:24] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yep.
[00:48:25] >> Kim Peri: How well he looked that day.
[00:48:27] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:48:27] >> Kim Peri: And he expected a lot worse. So, yeah.
[00:48:31] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah. I mean, when I saw him, he was animated. He was pumped up. I don’t think it was just because we were there, but you know, he was, he was like, oh boy, visitors!
[00:48:43] >> Kim Peri: Yeah. Um, after the diagnosis, you know, that when August, when they changed it back to T-Cell and not indolent lymphoma, Dr. Hershey then changed his protocol to CCNU. And then in September when his numbers climbed again, you know, I knew it was time. You know, I knew it was time, that I would be doing it not for Indy, I would be doing it for me. And for everything that Indy gave me, that wouldn’t be fair.
You know, I couldn’t ask him to stay. And as hard as that was, it was the right decision. And I don’t have any regrets about anything that I ever did. The world that he introduced me to, you know, the Golden Retriever Club. Being able to go to the National in 2019, you know, Wave showed at the National. He was in Best of Breed and you know, I hadn’t shown Indy for a while and I showed him in Veterans that day. And I didn’t care if we didn’t win. You know, it wasn’t about that. It was about the relationship. It was about the journey.
And you know, the impact again that we had on the study and people recruiting. The magazines and articles they wrote about us, you know, when they were recruiting and things like that. And the applause that he got as a veteran, you know, at the Golden Retriever National. And then Dr. Mike took his samples that day, his DNA samples. And the photos, you know, we have thousands of photos. So you know, I couldn’t ask him to stay any longer.
And he said he was done. And I told Dr. Hershey, I said, she wanted to do another protocol, and I said, no. I said, I can’t. It’s not fair to Indy.
[00:50:30] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:50:30] >> Kim Peri: You know, and so I made arrangements after Dr. Mike left, you know, that weekend. And, and we had another hero owner, my friend Winnie and her dog Gracie, who’s also well known in the study. And Dr. Jarvis came over and it was Dr. Mike, his wife, and their friend. And we had dinner at my house and they got, Winnie brought all of her dogs, and then we had Indy and Wave. And we took pictures and we got Dr. Mike’s favorite pie, and we had dinner at my house.
And, you know, we laughed and we celebrated and we talked about the study and we got to meet, you know, put faces together. And that’s, you know, again, what the study is about. It’s about the people and not just the dogs. And the following week, you know, when I got that news, um, I called my friends and they came over and they, you know, we did some reiki with Indy and, you know, they got to say goodbye and he got to say goodbye to the people that he loved as well.
And, um, I talked to my friend Dr. Ruth, and I asked her to ask Indy if there was anything else that he needed from me the night before I, I let him go home. And so she told me that she talked to him and she said, she asked him if he had any messages for me. And Indy said, "There are so many messages, a lifetime of messages. She knows all of them by heart. It has been a fun life. I am tired now and I’m ready to go. You can only do so much with this body. It’s time to shed this body and fly." So.
[00:52:14] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yep.
[00:52:14] >> Kim Peri: And you know, my holistic vet came and she did the spirit journey and we had a, a veterinarian come to the home ’cause Dr. Ferguson wasn’t able to do it that day. And Dr. Jarvis, who my dogs, you know, if something happens to me, that’s where my dogs go. And because she’d never done anything like this with a dog in her life, you know, we started with her when she was just starting her canine rehab and conditioning business, getting away from general practice. She was there, you know, and we were all there when we released Indy.
And it was remarkable, you know, the, the things that transpired in the next few days and you know, when I see him now, you know, I, ’cause I do, I, you know, I feel his presence. Um, he comes either in the form of a hummingbird or a butterfly. So it, it’s incredible the impact one dog can make on your life.
[00:53:15] >> Molly Jacobson: Yep.
[00:53:15] >> Kim Peri: And then you have this family to go with it, who mourns your loss like you do. Yep.
[00:53:27] >> Molly Jacobson: We’re all gonna just, you know, sob for a few minutes.
[00:53:30] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:53:32] >> Molly Jacobson: Um, and, uh, and I’m sure that our listeners will as well, because I think anybody listening knows the depth that a dog can go to in a heart of a human. But that, I think, um, well for me, the reason that I do this work and that my husband does the work he does, is because we’ve seen that humans become their best selves when they pay attention to their dogs.
[00:54:01] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:54:02] >> Molly Jacobson: And your story is so illustrative of that, of how paying close attention to a dog, and the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, one of the reasons I’ve always been very interested in it is because it does the same thing. It pays close attention. It says, these dogs are important and they’re gonna tell us a lot. And even on a scientific level, they do, because not only are they telling us about dogs, about Golden Retrievers, but about humans. Because the medicine for humans and dogs is so similar in so many ways. And so dogs just give and give and give.
[00:54:41] >> Kim Peri: They do.
[00:54:42] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:54:43] >> Molly Jacobson: And when we, when we give back to them, we receive, I think not just dog love, but human love. And it’s very beautiful. And I just appreciate, uh, your story so much, and Dr. Lappin, your part in it and your part in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study and also your work with the DNA repository is just so important and none of us will ever know.
[00:55:09] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:55:09] >> Molly Jacobson: The true impact.
[00:55:10] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Right. And we’ve had, I’ve had a number of of other clubs that have come and asked for advice on how to set one of these clinics up at their Nationals, because they may not have a foundation like we have at the Golden Retriever Club, and trying to piece things together to get their breed involved as well.
[00:55:29] >> Kim Peri: Yeah. And you know, and Indy’s legacy lives on, not only through the study, but through the work that I’m doing now and trying to make a difference and make sure that, you know, his life is memorialized. Um, you know, I talked to PetDx, which I know that you guys have talked to as well, and I’ve talked to Dr. Mike about it. And I talked to the head of clinical research there and asked, because I saw, I saw a post on our Facebook page about somebody who’s in the GRLS study that also is in the PetDx study.
And I said, I private messaged her and I said, how did you know about that? How do you get involved? And, because I wanna make a difference, you know, for not just for my dog – it’s somewhat, somewhat selfish, okay, I’ll be really honest and real about it. It’s somewhat selfish because I wanna know, I wanna know to be proactive, to get out ahead of something. You know, there are many times I look at my, I’ve looked at my dogs through the years, and I’m on my seventh Golden Retriever, and said, are you hiding something on me? You know, um.
[00:56:40] >> Molly Jacobson: Are you hiding something and are you hiding something?
[00:56:43] >> Kim Peri: Yeah.
[00:56:43] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. Like, right.
[00:56:44] >> Kim Peri: So, um, she talked to me about the study and so I reached out to PetDx and talked to them and I asked if they had a study site for their OncoK9 cancer testing.
[00:56:55] >> Molly Jacobson: For their testing.
[00:56:55] >> Kim Peri: Yeah.
[00:56:56] >> Molly Jacobson: For their cancer test. Yeah.
Yeah. Here in Phoenix.
Which they’re still developing.
[00:56:59] >> Kim Peri: Right. Right. And so I said, you know, how do I get this test ’cause I have a six year old and I just lost my 10 years and seven months to the day of from lymphoma, and he was part of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. How do I get involved? And she’s like, we don’t have a study clinic in Phoenix. And I said, Well, what if I can get you one?
[00:57:20] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:57:20] >> Kim Peri: And.
[00:57:21] >> Molly Jacobson: I know some people.
[00:57:22] >> Kim Peri: I know some people.
[00:57:23] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yes, right. There you go.
[00:57:25] >> Kim Peri: And I talked to Dr. Ferguson and Wave, you know, my current dog, he will be the first dog enrolled in the study site in Phoenix, and his test is a week from today.
[00:57:41] >> Molly Jacobson: Wonderful. So you got the trial site for OncoK9 in the Phoenix area.
[00:57:46] >> Kim Peri: I did.
[00:57:47] >> Molly Jacobson: So listeners, if you’re in the Phoenix area.
[00:57:49] >> Kim Peri: I’m helping to recruit dogs.
[00:57:51] >> Molly Jacobson: You have an OncoK9.
[00:57:52] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[00:57:53] >> Molly Jacobson: Right. Reach out to Kim Peri. We’ll put a link in the show notes.
[00:57:58] >> Kim Peri: I told Dr. Ferguson I’d help her recruit dogs and I probably have already four or five dogs and you know, some are involved in the study and there are others that have just dogs that are of age. And actually Wave’s brother who lives in Las Vegas, who I met his owner through the study, the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, just had the OncoK9 test and forwarded me his results, which are clear at this time. ‘Cause we all know those tests are a point in time.
[00:58:30] >> Molly Jacobson: Right.
[00:58:30] >> Kim Peri: But in the hopes that we can use the brothers as data, you know, for PetDx to study pedigrees, you know? Um, and things like that. It goes back to the lines. So her name is Deb Pietro and she helped me, you know, she said, you want me to send you the information when I get it for Armani? And I said, sure. And so Dr. Ferguson said, that would be great. And the benefit to that would be that they get to follow the brothers.
And, you know, as an owner, to be part of this study, it’s, you know, I, I don’t have to pay for the test that’s performed, but I do have to pay for a blood draw and an exam, and I know they’re very stringent in how the clinic has to operate. And that’s why Dr. Ferguson has agreed to use Wave as her test case, you know, so she can work through those kinks. And again, it’s about helping other dogs.
[00:59:26] >> Molly Jacobson: Right.
[00:59:27] >> Kim Peri: You know, in this case it can be any breed, it can be a mixed breed. They just have to have certain criteria like no ear infections or you know, inflammation. And if they’re a pure breed, they have to be of a specific age if they’re not one of the breeds that are prone to cancer, like Goldens. Like Wave is of the perfect age, he’s six. And his constitution is way different than Indy’s. So, you know, I always thought Indy would be here till he was 14. And sadly that wasn’t the case.
You know, I used to tell one of the other admins in the study that he and I had a pact, he’s not going anywhere until he was 14. And he had other plans.
[01:00:08] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[01:00:08] >> Kim Peri: So.
[01:00:12] >> Molly Jacobson: That brings up something I was wondering about. I mean, Kim, you still want to participate in these studies, Dr. Lappin, do you feel the same way? Would you do something like the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study again if somebody came and said to you?
[01:00:26] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: In a minute.
[01:00:27] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah.
[01:00:27] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: In a minute.
[01:00:28] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah.
[01:00:29] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[01:00:30] >> Kim Peri: Yeah. I mean it’s, it’s about paying it forward, not only about the research and stuff like that, but you know, we have people that are members of our Golden Retriever Club locally that don’t show or they aren’t interested in showing. And so I try to mentor and help those people based on what I know. And I mean, I’m, in my spare time, I’m studying to do animal accupressure.
[01:00:53] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh.
[01:00:53] >> Kim Peri: And I’ll have my master Reiki next month, and then I’ll continue on. So when I retire, I can have something else to do.
[01:01:03] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Retire from one job to go into another profession.
[01:01:07] >> Kim Peri: Yeah. Reinvent myself.
[01:01:09] >> Molly Jacobson: Yes. Sounds like it. Setting yourself up.
[01:01:11] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Right.
[01:01:12] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah.
[01:01:12] >> Kim Peri: Right, right.
[01:01:13] >> Molly Jacobson: That’s wonderful.
[01:01:14] >> Kim Peri: So, but it’s about helping and paying it forward and that’s, that’s what I’m really, want to do, is to make a difference and to leave a legacy and to continue Indy’s legacy.
[01:01:25] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah, it’s amazing. It’s amazing what you’ve done. And I would like to just highlight before we wrap up one part of your story that we haven’t really delved too deeply on, but one of the reasons you’re so involved with people is because of your training. And I think that when you participate in any kind of dog training, you’re bonding deeply with your dog, but also with other people. By nature you have to consult with others. So can you talk a little bit, Kim, about that? I think a lot of people feel like when they get, their dog gets cancer their, their life is almost over and they just kind of shrink their world. But you opened up. Can you talk about that for our listeners?
[01:02:06] >> Kim Peri: Yeah, sure. So, you know, it started with Indy and you know, having had rescue dogs and the training that I did, my perspective on having a dog is that they have potential, and it’s my role and my responsibility to help them reach their potential. And training is not just going to PetSmart – and there’s nothing wrong with doing the training classes at PetSmart or any other place – it’s not six weeks. It’s the rest of the dog’s life.
[01:02:38] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yes.
[01:02:39] >> Kim Peri: You know, and it’s important because not only does it stimulate their bodies, but it stimulates their brain. And you build a bond that is really hard to break and you become reliant on each other and it’s a partnership. And I compete in many sports. Indy, competed in surfing, as I mentioned. He was my first show dog. And everybody has a learning dog. And all the mistakes that I made with him, I tried not to make with Wave.
And now the mistakes that I made with Wave, I’ll try not to make with Cruizer. And we do a CGC testing, and we do scent work, and we’ve done barn hunt, and we’ve done rally, and we’ve done obedience. And it enriches, not only just my life, because the dog world is very, very small, but it’s very, very big at the same time.
And I wouldn’t have known or met any of the people that I’ve met if it wasn’t for Indy. And he opened my eyes to a world that’s greater than my own. And like even in what I’m doing with my accupressure, I was asked to help my friend’s neighbor’s dog just this past weekend. And the dog serves as an emotional support animal for both her and her husband, who suffer from PTSD.
And you can see the dog has no release for itself. The dog is always on. And I talked to her about like just doing like a licky mat so he gets that satiation, you know, of using his brain. A snuffle mat to hide his treats and playing hide and seek. Something other than helping them because he has no emotional outlet for himself. Doing the treadmill, you know, taking a training class.
And she says, well, he knows sit and down. And I said, well, there’s way more than that, you know, to training a dog. And the average person doesn’t necessarily think in that way. And it’s, I don’t think you form as great of a bond. And I know Dr. Mike can comment on that because we both do scent work and I’ve kind of resigned myself that I’m gonna retire Wave from the show ring, except for maybe in Veterans when he’s of the age, and let him do, he’s earned the right, he’s almost a Grand Champion, and he’s earned that right to choose what sports he wants to do. And his loves are dock diving and scent work. And I almost do a face plant because he gets so excited about starting at the start line when he does scent work.
And Dr. Mike has seen my videos. We do classes once a week and now Cruizer will start puppy classes and then we’ll do handling classes. And I basically live for my dogs. I, I, I work for them, not for me. I think Dr. Mike agrees, that’s probably why he still has his clinic.
[01:05:34] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yes. We, we work so our dogs can have fun.
[01:05:38] >> Kim Peri: Right.
[01:05:39] >> Molly Jacobson: Right. Work for their quality of life.
[01:05:41] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Exactly.
[01:05:42] >> Molly Jacobson: Right. Yeah. Well, we always say when we increase our dog’s quality of life, we’re by definition increasing our own quality of life.
[01:05:48] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Absolutely.
[01:05:48] >> Kim Peri: Absolutely. Yeah. And you know, people that don’t have animals or don’t think the way that we do collectively, they don’t understand, and it’s always about the dog and, or it’s just a dog. And what they don’t get is that there are million of us in the world. We just kind of like are the, you know, in the closet, so to speak, because unless you live in our world, you don’t know it. Like the person that I was talking about just a few minutes ago, she didn’t know that there were, there was fitness equipment for dogs or there were treadmills.
[01:06:23] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[01:06:23] >> Kim Peri: For dogs. My guest room has Wave’s treadmill. It’s eight feet long. It sits in the guest room so he can run, and in the summertime especially because as we can’t walk here or you know, we, we have places to swim.
[01:06:36] >> Molly Jacobson: It’s too hot.
[01:06:37] >> Kim Peri: Yeah, it’s too hot to run ’em on the pavement. So.
[01:06:42] >> Molly Jacobson: Thank you so much.
[01:06:44] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: Yeah.
[01:06:44] >> Molly Jacobson: Thank you to both of you. I really appreciate you being here, Dr. Mike Lappin, and.
[01:06:48] >> Dr. Mike Lappin: And thanks for having us.
[01:06:49] >> Molly Jacobson: Kim Peri.
[01:06:50] >> Kim Peri: I’m very grateful to be part of this and thank you as well for including both of us.
[01:06:56] >> Molly Jacobson: Our pleasure.
And thank you listener. Dogs like Indy change our lives. They certainly change the lives of we humans who love them, but they can also encourage us to expand our horizons and try new things. Indy brought Kim into the world of dog shows and the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, but he also inspired her to help more people and dogs access studies and emerging technology that help the dogs of the future lead longer and better lives.
And because of comparative oncology where what happens in canine cancer can help inform what happens in human cancer and vice versa, who knows how many dogs and humans Indy will eventually help through Kim. The show notes are quite full this week with all of the links and resources that Kim and Dr. Mike mentioned, for both Golden Retrievers but also any other dog. You can see those in your podcast app or on our website at dogcancer.com.
Please share this episode with anyone you know has a Golden, and share our podcast with anyone who has a dog with cancer and needs hope or some help.
I’m Molly Jacobson and from all of us here at Dog Podcast Network, I’d like to wish you and your dog a very warm, Aloha.
[01:08:17] >> Announcer: Thank you for listening to Dog Cancer. If you’d like to connect, please visit our website at dogcancer.com or call our Listener Line at (808) 868-3200. And here’s a friendly reminder that you probably already know: this podcast is provided for informational and educational purposes only. It’s not meant to take the place of the advice you receive from your dog’s veterinarian.
Only veterinarians who examine your dog can give you veterinary advice or diagnose your dog’s medical condition. Your reliance on the information you hear on this podcast is solely at your own risk. If your dog has a specific health problem, contact your veterinarian. Also, please keep in mind that veterinary information can change rapidly, therefore, some information may be out of date.
Dog Cancer Answers is a presentation of Maui Media in association with Dog Podcast Network.