Let's reach beyond the bluest skies, to the brightest stars, on behalf of the University of Guelph's Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund.

The University of Guelph's Pet Trust, is a fund devoted to providing financial assistance for the advancement of health, health care, and quality of life, for companion animals. More than 120 studies into naturally occurring diseases affecting companion animals, have been carried out with Pet Trust funds. Pet Trust is overseen by an independent Board of Trustees, and is administered by the Dean of the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC). To date, Pet Trust funds have been used for many special projects, including, investigations into common health problems, the development of new diagnostics and therapeutic techniques, studies involving the human-animal bond and animal behaviour, and the upgrading of the Small Animal Clinic's Intensive Care Unit. Receipts for tax credit purposes, are issued for all contributions to OVC's programmes, under the University of Guelph's charitable status number.

Cancer is the most frequent cause of death in dogs. This is a truly frightening thought. In an independent survey conducted by the Golden Retriever Club of America, it was determined that over sixty per cent of Goldens die from cancer. As one breeder pointed out, if you have Golden Retrievers, you have had, have now, or will have a Golden with cancer.  It is a burden that we all share. In loving our dogs, whether pure breeds or mixed breeds, we want the very best for them, in health, and in sickness.

Every dollar donated to The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund supports OVC's quest to find more and better ways to deal with and understand this terrible disease. Pet Trust's aim is to spend as much money as possible each year, so that they are having the maximum impact and doing the most work possible. We have been told, that in sharing Blues' story, we have helped to raise awareness of Pet Trust and OVC's fight against cancer. Thanks to you, we are making a difference.

It has been said, that if we could hang all of our sorrows on pegs, and were allowed to choose those we liked best, every one of us would take back their own, for all the rest would seem even more difficult to bear. Please help us to help our animal companions, and change the punch line of the cruel joke we call Cancer.  

The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund is in loving memory of our beautiful Blues Man, who taught us the true meaning of being a show dog.  He showed us how to live, love, laugh, and learn.

On-Line Donation Form, using VISA and Mastercard for:

Smiling Blue Skies Animal Cancer Centre Capital Fund
Smiling Blue SkiesInnovative Research Fund
Smiling Blue SkiesAnimal Cancer Greatest Need

click here for the donation page!


Please send your donations to: "The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund"

Attention:  Karen Tomchick
Alumni Affairs and Development Department
OVC Pet Trust
c/o Alumni House
University of Guelph
Guelph ON N1G 2W1

Please make sure to clearly indicate on your cheque, that your donation is for The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund. VISA and MasterCard are also accepted, and there is the additional option of setting up a monthly bank account debit or monthly credit card charge for up to one year.

If you would like to honour someone and/or a companion animal, by making a donation to The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund, please send your donation, along with information about the receiving individual or family (in whose honour or memory the donation is being made, your name and address, and the address of the receiving individual or family).  

All donations will be acknowledged by a receipt for tax credit purposes and a very special limited edition card, with inscription.

If you have questions or require more information about Pet Trust, please contact:

Karen Tomchick;
(519) 824-4120; Extension 54431

Kim Robinson
Managing Director, Pet Trust
Ontario Veterinary College (OVC)
University of Guelph
519-824-4120; Extension 54454

Jane Dawkins
Marketing Communications Officer
Ontario Veterinary College
University of Guelph
Guelph ON N1G 2W1

Email: jdawkins@uoguelph.ca
519-824-4120 ext. 53306


Dean Elizabeth Stone, Suzi, and Karen Stone

“That was Then.  This is Now.”

The Smiling Blue Skies ® Cancer Fund is 10 Years Old.

In 2010, YOU helped raise over $87,000 for Smiling Blue Skies!!!

He was the sun and moon and stars to us.  He was our Smiling Blue Skies.  Since the loss of our Blues to lymphoma, in the spring of 2001, the Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund has been supporting OVC Pet Trust’s quest to find more and better ways to deal with and understand the complex and devastating disease of cancer.  

Smiling Blue Skies is not about one dog, one cat, or one person.  It is about all of us, and thanks to special people like you, we have been able to fund a variety of exciting projects and promising studies.  

Not only is the Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund busy, the Smiling Blue Skies Fund for Innovative Research, has opened even more doors.  As Dr. Brenda Coomber, Co-director of the University of Guelph's Institute of Comparative Cancer Investigation reported, "Getting the ball rolling on a novel concept can be a major challenge, and almost every cancer researcher hears the same thing from funding agencies . . . 'Come back when you have some evidence you are on the right track.' The Smiling Blue Skies Fund for Innovative Cancer Research fills an urgent gap in OVC and the cancer centre's ability to support creative cancer research at its most fragile and vulnerable early stage."    

This has included two recent research studies, under the leadership of Dr. Gordon Kirby and Dr. Jinelle Webb, partnered with three veterinary referral hospitals in Ontario, for the first Hemangiosarcoma Validation Study.  The goal of the studies was to determine whether a recently identified blood protein found at high levels in dogs with hemangiosarcoma is useful as a diagnostic tool for the presence of this cancer.  While the follow-up work for the test validation is still underway, the researchers and clinical specialists are very excited about their findings so far, and it is only a matter of time (and a shorter time than we could have ever imagined, so stay tuned) before a commercial diagnostic test is available, that will be more quantifiable and useful in a commercial setting.  

We have also been able to fund the pilot project for North America’s very first cancer registry for companion animals.  The Guelph Companion Animal Cancer Epidemiologic Registry is population based and allows for special studies about the occurrence of cancer among dogs and cats, in select areas.  Information gained from the cancer registry can also provide clues about cancer treatment and control in humans.

YOU have also been at the centre of Dr. Sarah Boston's comparative studies and trials related to the treatment of osteosarcoma, helped practitioners stay on top of their game, through the use of continuing education series, facilitated by Lifelearn, helped Dr. Paul Woods study the potential of Nabidiolex, to attenuate nausea, vomiting, and anorexia in dogs undergoing chemotherapy, especially those diagnosed with lymphoma, and as many of you already know, the University of Guelph is the first Canadian institution to join the US National Cancer Institute's Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium, which positions the University of Guelph's Institute for Comparative Cancer Investigation (ICCI) and the OVC Cancer Centre with 19 other academic oncology centres at the leading edge of cancer research in North America.  

Smiling Blue Skies has evolved in so many ways over the past 10 years.  We never dreamed that a one page memorial would turn into a real presence on the web, that one walk in Muskoka, would turn into walks across Canada, that companies like Canine Life, West Coast Canine Life, and Endless Pawsibilities, would donate a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of all their products, to Smiling Blue Skies, that groomers and trainers and doggie day cares, like Paws to Claws, would donate tips to Smiling Blue Skies, that bake sales at Awards Banquets would help fund studies and fill tummies, that bottle collections would bring in thousands, that the annual "Sashettes" calendar would develop its own cult following, that obedience training and cancer awareness would go hand in hand at Janice Gunn seminars, that 2500 blue bracelets would find their way to wrists across Canada and the United States and beyond, joining us all together as Kindred Spirits, in our quest to wipe out cancer, that agility groups across Canada would embrace Smiling Blue Skies in so many ways, from the distribution of clickers, to raffles, to Smiling Blue Skies t-shirts for special events and one of a kind pieces of Smiling Blue Skies jewelry for trial judges, that regional and national clubs across Canada, would share our passion and mission, making Smiling Blue Skies a partner in a variety of events, and that individuals and groups from coast to coast, across North America, would reach out to us, so we could help them to organize and host their own very special events.

Most important of all, Smiling Blue Skies continues to offer 24/7 support to anyone whose life has been touched by cancer.  It doesn’t matter where you live.  Smiling Blue Skies will try to help you in any way they can.

As Kathy Hay, Associate Vice-President, Advancement, Alumni Affairs and Development, said in February of 2010:  "Smiling Blue Skies is truly a beacon that is helping to light the way to find a cure for such a dreadful disease.  The interdisciplinary cancer research and training enabled by your continued support allows future generations of cancer care specialists and scientists to achieve new breakthroughs, new diagnostic procedures and therapies.  The generous support you provide has immense implications for both human and animal cancers.  Thank you for your continued leadership and advocacy."

Hot Off the Press:  Smiling Blue Skies has just arranged for 200 additional hours for a grief support counsellor programme, through the University of Guelph, but just because it's in Guelph, doesn't mean "you" have to be in Guelph, to access this support service.

Thanks to all of you, we are going places we never could have dreamed possible, back in the spring of 2001.  Together, we are reaching beyond the bluest skies and brightest stars, to take bite after bite out of cancer, until there is nothing left!


six degress

pet trust 

Click here to download the Best Friends Newsletter Fall 2014

“Sky Manifesto”

Long live blue skies

Where hope is a kite

and dreams really

do come true.

* * * * * * * * * *

If Hope was a medicine, Love would surely be the cure.

I wish you the best!


Researchers at OVC are establishing a population-based companion animal cancer registry. The registry project will begin as a pilot project focusing on all cancers within the dog and cat population in the city of Guelph (but will be expanded over time!!). Cancer registries are an integral part of human cancer research. However, for companion animals, such registries do not exist in North America. Population-based cancer registries enable epidemiologists to study the occurrence of cancer in the population and to make statements when, where and why the occurrence of cancer is more or less likely in the population. This is a huge step forward and we could not do this without your continued support.

This is just one more way, that together, we are taking a bite out of cancer,
on behalf of the precious pets and people in our lives.


GUELPH – The University of Guelph will use the largest donation in its history to help finance Canada's first cancer centre for animals.

Canadian businesswoman Mona Campbell, who died last May, left $7.5 million to the university's Ontario Veterinary College, which will use half the money for animal welfare programs and half for the cancer centre.

"She was an animal lover. That was her connection to the University of Guelph," Ontario Veterinary College dean Elizabeth Stone said yesterday. "Mona Campbell gave us these funds to help strengthen and enhance what we are already doing. It also shows that she valued what we are doing."

Stone said the cancer centre's first stage, a public clinic, is expected to be up and running by late 2011.

"Without a doubt" this helps speed things up, Stone said.

The other half of Campbell's donation goes toward animal welfare programs, with one direct result being the addition of a new teaching position, Stone said.

Campbell died at age 89 in South Carolina, where she had lived for many years.

She was chair and CEO of Dover Industries, a company she inherited from her father when she was 33. At the time of her death the company was Canada's largest flour-milling company. She was also the first female director of the Toronto-Dominion Bank.

Campbell and her late husband had a history of supporting the veterinary college over the past 20 years, with more than $1 million in donations. She was given an honorary degree by the University of Guelph in 1994.

The veterinary college's Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare is named in memory of Campbell's late husband.

Stone said the school is already considered a leader in the area of companion animal welfare and this gift will help strengthen an already strong program.

Download the Best Friends Newsletter Summer 2010


Here are three ways, our dogs are benefiting, due to your continued support of The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund.

Treatment of Canine Lymphoma:  Lymphoma is one of the most common forms of malignant cancer in dogs.  A number of treatment protocols have been developed using anti-cancer drugs and radiation therapy, but there is little evidence to support using one protocol over another.  The goal of this retrospective study, is to determine the different response times, prognostic factors and side effects associated with the different treatment protocols.  Results should help doctors determine which treatment to give and how to modify treatment when side effects are encountered.

Renewal of Funds:  Gene Profiling of Canine Lymphosarcoma:  Lymphosarcoma, a serious cancer of the immune system, is one of the most common forms of cancer in dogs.  Patients generally respond well to chemotherapy.  However, the response of an individual dog's cancer to a given treatment is unpredictable, suggesting the molecular characteristics of the disease are quite variable.  The goal of this ongoing study, is to identify genetic markers that could be used to better predict prognosis and response to therapy.  This would help veterinarians and clients make more informed choices about drug protocols.

Evaluating Low Dose Chemotherapy:  Metronomic chemotherapy is a new approach to cancer treatment in which drugs are administered in lower doses but more frequently than in traditional therapy.  The approach is less toxic and much less draining physically and emotionally, and it may also prolong survival times.  This study will employ metronomic chemotherapy in the treatment of Hemangiosarcoma, an aggressive cancer originating in the blood vessels of organs such as the spleen, heart, liver, and lungs.  Metronomic chemotherapy inhibits the growth of new blood vessels rather than indirectly attacking the tumour through massive doses of toxic drugs.  Therefore, it may prove more effective than traditional treatments, that produce severe side effects with little overall benefit in terms of remission or survival rates.

Here are other ways, your support has helped us take a bite out of canine cancer:

The teaching hospital is now able to offer expanded services in cancer treatment for companion animals because of upgrades to the radiation therapy unit, made possible by support from Pet Trust.  For pets with cancer, radiation therapy can help to ease pain, relieve cancer symptoms, and curtail the spread of the disease.

Pet Trust Study for Winter 2004:  Anti-cancer chemotherapy often results in a lowering of blood platelets, which can cause spontaneous bleeding.  This side effect limits the use of some anti-cancer drugs.  The purpose of this study is to test whether lithium carbonate, an inexpensive drug, can protect dogs against developing low platelet numbers when receiving anti-cancer drugs known to cause low platelets.

Pet Trust Study for Winter 2004:  Osteosarcoma is the most common bone tumour in dogs.  This is an ongoing Pet Trust study, initially funded in the fall of 2003 funding competition.  The study is investigating whether chemotherapy prior to surgery (limb amputation) improves the survival time for dogs with osteosarcoma.

As of August 8, 2008, The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund,
has raised over $250,000.00 for cancer treatment and research,
and the building of Canada's first cancer centre for companion animals.


Click here to visit the OVC Pet Trust Supportive Care



Rochelle Lesser


In 1998, Rochelle Lesser's Golden Retriever, Oliver, was diagnosed with lymphoma. Sadly, the cancer had been discovered at a very late stage of the disease, and he failed to respond to the chemotherapy. So, in the most unselfish of acts, Ollie was allowed to take that final journey to the furry playground of angels.

That is when Rochelle began her own education process, learning that the problem is huge, with one in three developing cancer, and between 50 to 60% of those diagnosed dying of their disease. Similarly, four million new canine cancer diagnoses are made annually, affecting both young and old.

Renowned veterinarian and author, Dr. Marty Becker, writes that “Our pets lend a touch of grace to our lives. They teach us the real meaning of unconditional love and bring out the kindest and most generous impulses of humanity.”

As we endeavor to extend that purest of relationships, we are embracing the latest in cancer treatment regimens. Yet, for many, the costs are beyond their means. And, for assistance dog partners on limited incomes and whose very survival depends on their canine's continued good health, a diagnosis of cancer can translate into a death sentence for their beloved helpers.

The Land of Pure Gold Foundation, like The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund, through the University of Guelph's Pet Trust Fund (University of Guelph Veterinary Teaching College and Hospital), is bringing awareness to the critical area of canine cancer and of the continuing advances being made in veterinary oncology.

The Land of Pure Gold Foundation has been created, to help with treatment costs for assistance dog handlers in the United States and CANADA, and to aid in cancer research, that focuses on comparative oncology, the study of cancers that occur similarly, in dogs and humans.

Explore Rochelle's 275+ selection of dog inspired apparel, journals, cards, housewares, and gifts. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of the proceeds, will fund cancer treatment for service dogs diagnosed with cancer.

ALL ARTIST WORKS AND SERVICES HAVE BEEN DONATED TO THIS CAUSE, including selected designs and photographs from Suzi Beber, including some that are showcased on The Smiling Blue Skies web site, as well as special designs donated for this very special cause. Come see Miracles with Paws, Awakening the Soul, Knowlish the Whippet, and Mr. Shmoosh Face, and help us to help those who depend on their beloved service dogs.



When Melissa Topper, a Grade 5 student from Orono, Ontario, needed to choose a topic for a speech to be presented to her classmates, she decided talk about her friend Toby, a Golden Retriever who had died of spinal cancer at only two years of age, as well as Pet Trust's role in advancing animal health. Melissa has also been a financial supporter of Pet Trust. She suggested to an entrepreneur, that they develop an aromatherapy spray for dogs. The spray, called “Toby” after her Golden Retriever, has been sold through veterinary offices and some Valu stores in Ontario. $1 from the sale bottle of spray is donated to Pet Trust. 


© Suzi Beber 2001-2015. All rights reserved, except where indicated by credits.
Copyright includes all photographic images on this site, which may NOT be duplicated without permission.