My Golden Polar


Share post:

Dogs have a very special way of changing our lives for the better in an instant. Ask any pet parent, and they will most likely tell you it was “love at first sight” upon meeting their pet, and therein lies a piece of the unexplainable magic animals share with us—the instant connection and understanding that in this moment, you both need one another.

When Pablo and his wife Suchana welcomed a golden retriever named Pooklook into their family, their lives changed. They both immediately felt moved to make Pooklook’s life the very best it could be. Pooklook loved being outdoors, so his dad who once considered himself an indoor type of person became and outdoor enthusiast seeking out hiking trails and outdoor adventures to share with Pooklook. Pablo says, “Being outside in nature with Pooklook and witnessing his pure joy while exploring and playing was the best feeling for me. If Pooklook liked it, we were going to do it.”


Pooklook was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and underwent radiation and treatment for several years. A brief remission followed by another cancer diagnosis forced Pablo and his wife to say goodbye to Pooklook in 2014. His passing devastated them, their grief was deep, and both unapologetically admit it was “a very dark time.” Shortly after his passing, the vet tech who had loved and supported Pooklook through his treatments donated in his honor to The Morris Animal Foundation. When Pablo received notification, he looked up the foundation and learned of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.

Morris Animal Foundation

The Morris Animal Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Veterinarian Dr. Mark L. Morris Sr., who believed in applying medical diagnostic and treatment protocols used in human patients to the animals he treated. He opened one of the first exclusively small animal hospitals in 1928.1

During the Great Depression, Dr. Morris noticed an unusually high rate of kidney disease in his animal patients. He concluded that many dogs were no longer eating table scraps, but instead, inexpensive canned food or dry kibble that contained meat byproducts and low-quality protein. This prompted Dr. Morris to create his own prescription dog food to help treat kidney problems. This venture proved successful leading to a partnership with Burton Hill and Hill Packing Company of Kansas. Paving the way to what would become present-day Morris Animal Foundation.

Today, the Morris Animal Foundation is a global leader in supporting studies to find solutions to serious health threats to animals, investing nearly $160 million in more than 3,000 studies that have improved the health and quality of life for dogs, cats, horses, and wildlife around the world.2

The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study

Launched in 2012, The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study (GRLS) is one of the largest, most comprehensive prospective canine health studies in the United States. The primary goal of the study is to identify the nutritional, environmental, lifestyle and genetic risk factors for cancer and other diseases in dogs, and ultimately find answers to canine cancer.

Currently, there are over 3,000 dogs, 2,600 owner participants, and 2,000-plus veterinarians involved in the study. Per current data shared on the foundation’s website, 60% of golden retrievers are impacted by cancer. In 2023, the foundation shared that through the study, they had accrued 500 cumulative diagnoses of four major cancers including lymphoma, high-grade mast cell tumor, osteosarcoma, and a higher than expected prevalence of hemangiosarcoma.3

Polar Perfection

In April of 2014, Pablo and his wife were still grieving but knew they would welcome another golden retriever eventually. A close family member knew their hearts needed mending sooner than later and brought them a golden retriever puppy to meet, or at least cheer them up a little bit. Still raw from the loss of Pooklook, they wondered if the timing was right, and it was. They named the puppy Polar Bear, and so began a new life for a lucky puppy, and a bright new chapter for Pablo and his wife.

Knowing of the Morris Animal Foundation, Pablo reached out to enroll Polar. At the time, he was too young, as the age of acceptance into the program is between 6 months and 2 years. Once Polar had his 6-month birthday, he was in.

How The Study Works

While it may sound daunting to be part of lifetime study, Pablo says it is very convenient to participate. The foundation sends each a participant a sample kit to take with them to their annual exam. The veterinarian uses the kit to collect various samples including but not limited to fur, blood, nail clippings, and skin scrapings. Both the veterinarian and the dog parent are required to fill out a questionnaire that includes questions about personality, lifestyle, environment, food, and other details that reveal a baseline of what the dog’s daily life looks like. The data is then returned to the foundation.

Pablo shares, “We participate in this study to honor Pooklook, and because I believe the study will propel the advancement of health care for dogs, which I hope will mean less dogs losing their lives to cancer in the future.”

In a recent Instagram post marking 10 years since Pooklook passed away, Pablo writes:

“You awakened my life and showed me what love is about. You found me and saved me from a lifetime incomplete.

You taught me to live with no regrets, so I devote myself to honor that, trying to give Polar his best life—and make you proud.

I miss you, my dear Pooklook. Yet I find solace knowing that, in every lifetime, our souls will find each other. In each I will recognize you, and my heart will be full once again.


Meet Polar

He’s outdoorsy, and by outdoorsy, we mean he’s into:

• Hiking every mountain.

• Running up and down every trail.

• Making snow angels.

• Diving into the lake, or a stream, doesn’t matter really.

• Finding the biggest stick among the trees and then taking it apart piece by piece.

• Chilling under the blue sky and sunsets with his dad.

• One of his nicknames is Polar Berry. The rest are top secret.

• He is an A+ couch potato in his downtime.

• Polar is part of the Morris Animal Foundation Lifetime Study.

• He has his own Instagram, @my_golden_polar, where his dad documents all his adventures.




Alicia Bailey
Alicia Bailey
Alicia Bailey is a writer specializing in animal welfare topics and issues. Prior to writing full time she spent 13+ years working in rescue and animal sheltering, holding leadership roles in both. She has worked with numerous local and national non-profit organizations including Best Friends Animal Society, NKLA, The Palm Springs Animal Shelter, Coachella Valley Animal Campus, and many others. Alicia is mom to 3 uniquely abled dogs, including @LittleBoogieShoes & @Bust.A.Moves.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related articles

Surviving the Pain of Losing Your Pet

An Interview with Dr. Katie Lawlor, Psy.D., MIA Losing a pet can feel like a blow to the gut,...


Southern California has no shortage of celebrities, and that includes the four-legged kind. Let us introduce you to...

Legacies of Love

Golden retrievers bring the magic. Their glistening fur, big smiles, and wagging tails have a knack for prompting...

Cooper the Mini Golden

Janet had longed for a golden retriever ever since she was a little girl. Somehow, she just knew...