Toys & Training

Marissa Ella Hendrix

Her identify was Maggie, the primary golden retriever that Marissa Hendrix had and the one she lovingly describes as having “doomed” her to this life.

Hendrix is founder and president of the Pure State Golden Retriever Membership, the place she makes use of her experience breeding and displaying golden retrievers to coach individuals in regards to the specific wants and care of this breed — it doesn’t matter what function they hope or think about the canine will tackle.

“They’re versatile,” Hendrix says whereas petting her golden retriever Raye as she talks. “They are often service or remedy canine, household companions, searching companions. Initially, they had been bred to be a gentleman’s searching canine, a companion who might do work within the subject. Now they’ve sort of molded into life as companions and mates alike.”

Pure State Golden Retriever Membership is a nonprofit group that fashioned in Might 2021 and is the primary membership of its sort in Arkansas. Whereas it has an workplace on the Middle for Nonprofits in Rogers for workshops and conferences, it serves your complete state and a few surrounding areas. In October, it is going to be absolutely licensed with the American Kennel Membership, then it is going to be eligible to use for full approval and recognition by the Golden Retriever Membership of America. To satisfy its remaining requirement, the membership plans to host an A match on the Scorching Springs canine present. An A match is an AKC conformation canine present that’s largely for follow for the canine and exhibitors since winners usually are not awarded any AKC factors towards a title.

Hendrix says its members plan to host the primary golden retriever Specialty for the state in 2023.

“Her purpose for the membership is to be completely inclusive,” says Betsy Reithemeyer, who turned to Hendrix to be matched with a couple of golden retrievers and located a very good pal. “She exhibits and breeds and has the very best requirements you’ll be able to have with breeders to affiliate with. The help group she’s constructed is great; it is for the well being and effectively being of the breed and to help households loving these canine.”

Reithemeyer appreciates the collegiality of the group, saying that it is welcoming to individuals like she and her husband, who don’t have any intention of breeding or displaying their canine, however preserve them as cherished pets and companions.

“The persons are open and welcoming and supportive,” she says. “It is a group that I’ve so liked attending to know that actually celebrates one another’s victories.”

The status of Hendrix’s golden retrievers preceded her, too. At a Dallas Specialty Present in March 2021, Dr. Christopher Johnson and spouse Melissa had been excited to satisfy her as a result of that they had seen a few of her golden retrievers in Northwest Arkansas.

“We had been instantly struck by Marissa’s ardour for the breed, her heat and her enthusiasm,” Chris Johnson says. “We loved that go to a lot that we mentioned, ‘We want we had a Golden Retriever Membership in Arkansas.'”

Hendrix instructed them on the spot that she wished the identical factor too and thought it was totally doable.

“It appeared like an infinite problem to us … however Marissa knew the individuals to contact to get began,” he says.

Inside lower than two months, she had contacted the American Kennel Membership, Golden Retriever Membership of America, drafted the preliminary bylaws, after which circled again round to the Johnsons, saying they had been able to have their first organizational assembly. It will double because the membership’s first enjoyable match to satisfy AKC necessities for an official membership.

“She was dynamic, charismatic and introduced a various group of individuals collectively that day, inspiring all of us to work to serve the breed of canine we love,” Johnson says. “It was clear from her management abilities on the match and assembly that we had a president.”

Hendrix’s potential to unite them in a shared love of golden retrievers was what sure all of them collectively.

“Marissa’s newly based membership will profit all by selling accountable possession for the breed by ensuring everyone seems to be concentrating on bettering high quality inside the breed and never simply amount,” Russellville veterinarians Drs. Dale and Jeana Kaufman say by e-mail. “She’s an excellent consumer who takes accountability to assist construct data and educate individuals on the worth of golden retrievers.”

That extends past educating the general public to offering even the Kaufmans with new data and connections. They are saying she’s all the time fast to replace them on situations particular to golden retrievers and match them with professionals who’re working to determine or keep away from sure genetic issues with the breed.

“Marissa’s and our targets are easy,” the Kaufmans’ e-mail says. “Put a wholesome pet in a wholesome household and watch the connection develop.”

Hendrix hopes that going ahead the membership will be capable of set up a golden retriever rescue company, since anybody eager about discovering their canine that approach has to journey to Oklahoma, Missouri or Tennessee.


Hendrix did not know from the start that she would breed golden retrievers. At first she dreamed of the right horse. Whereas finding out biochemistry on the College of Arkansas, Fayetteville she labored three part-time jobs to finance her self-described horse obsession, as an authorized nursing assistant at Butterfield Path Village, a lifeguard who gave swimming classes and a waitress at Market Grill. She was nonetheless an undergraduate pupil when she determined to import a Friesian horse and took out a mortgage for the acquisition.

“Tjiskie was a wide ranging horse,” she says. “She was a dream horse. I made a decision that I wished to strive an embryo switch out of her and have one other Belgium horse carry her foal.”

However as soon as the foal was born, it died inside 24 hours whereas Hendrix was sleeping close by within the barn. She was crushed, however there have been no apparent causes that it occurred. The remainder of the samples from the undertaking had been unusable by that time, and he or she was out of funding.

She tried to concentrate on having fun with her dream horse, however her thoughts stored going again to her rising up years along with her household canine, Maggie. Marissa might do something with that canine. At first that meant enjoying make-believe collectively, through which Maggie was a fake horse that younger Marissa would prepare to go in circles.

“They’re simply your pal,” Hendrix says. “You snuggle them and have that potential to make all these issues higher. They’re gifted in that approach.”

Whereas nonetheless a university pupil, Hendrix flew out to California, received her first golden retriever of her personal and introduced her again as a carry-on. Earlier than she knew a lot in regards to the course of, Marissa requested to make use of a breeder’s male golden retriever so she might preserve a pet from the ensuing litter. She requested in regards to the male’s well being clearances, which the breeder mentioned had been nice, so Hendrix did not confirm for herself.

When the 13 puppies had been born, the canine was unable to nurse them, so Marissa bottle fed them each two hours, all morning and all night time and in between her school programs. All of them survived, however Hendrix was exhausted.

Later, she would study by the American Kennel Membership that the male used to create that first litter wasn’t as much as customary on well being clearances. Once more, Hendrix felt dejected. She spayed the pet that she had stored. It ended her hope to have pedigree from her first canine, however she believed it was for the perfect.

Hendrix discovered one other feminine golden retriever with a pedigree she favored and began over, placing a deposit on a litter. However when the puppies had been born, the breeder mentioned she misplaced her reservation and had bought her pet to another person by mistake. Quite than undergo that coronary heart wrenching course of once more, Hendrix traced the pedigree to the supply, somebody with a canine in a distinct nation. She used a translator program to speak with the breeder, who then agreed to promote her a golden retriever.

On the similar time somebody provided to purchase Tjiskie, her Friesian horse, and now she wanted the cash to import her new canine. She cried as she made the choice, then wired the cash and held her breath.

In consequence, Nikki (Yudita) turned Marissa’s basis golden retriever — she’s now three generations from her preliminary pedigree. Her breeder had finished all the proper well being screenings and due to that, she would have a really wholesome line of canine.


Hendrix, her husband and daughter Emma presently look after 15 canine, a each day activity that she describes as just like caring for a pack of toddlers. She will get up as quickly as the primary animal (or her daughter) wakes, and he or she goes to sleep after the final one closes its eyes. All of them dwell on 20 acres within the Russellville space, the place the canine have loads of enjoyable operating round. Their household is within the strategy of constructing a kennel, the place they hope to have workshops and grooming seminars for the membership in the future. Additionally they just lately constructed a technical pond, the place they are going to be capable of prepare canine to retrieve in water. Dock diving, swimming, subject work and different retrievals all play into the canine’ pure instincts, Hendrix says.

Being a breeder and now group educator is a giant accountability on prime of the bodily one. When Golden puppies are born, she and her husband sleep subsequent to the field for the primary two weeks, since their wants are so nice early on. They play storm sounds to desensitize them, stroll them by packages to change into extra adaptable and assured and carry out temperament testing.

“We interview every household” who’s wanting so as to add a golden retriever to their lives, Hendrix says. Each indicators a seven web page contract stating that they are going to spay or neuter at a sure age, they’re going to make the canine an inside companion and will something occur, they’re going to return the canine to her.

“We’re right here for the lifetime of their canine,” she says. “This particular person is somebody I will keep up a correspondence with for the following decade plus. It is an enormous dedication, taking over all these phases … Rather a lot can occur, however we’re there for every thing.”

Marissa and her household typically miss Christmas celebrations, birthdays, weddings and different life occasions as a result of the canine come first, they usually take the burden of that accountability very critically. Daughter Emma realized to stroll by pulling up on the again of a golden retriever round the home, and now at 7 years previous, she is aware of the way to do a lot of the care concerned, even educating puppies to swim.

“We acquired an enormous shock after I received pregnant with Emma; she is the present of a lifetime,” Hendrix says. “I am so pleased with her coronary heart and the particular person she’s changing into. She’s formally the perfect pet snuggler right here.”


Individuals who get golden retrievers from their household contact Hendrix for all method of issues, from the straightforward questions of what flea and tick preventive to make use of, to the extra advanced issues like the way to deal with their yards now since they’ve a cancer-prone canine.

Reithemeyer says you’ll be able to immediately sense Hendrix’s ardour and love for the breed, that is what makes it really easy to show to her with questions, realizing they are going to be met with real curiosity and care.

“She’s so open … she is aware of every pet, every persona and works exhausting to match the pet with the household,” Reithemeyer says. The primary cellphone name that that they had was almost an hour lengthy and now she is aware of Hendrix is all the time a cellphone name or textual content away, even for the bizarre stuff. “She’s somebody I can textual content in the course of the night time and say ‘My canine is consuming (its) poop, what do I do?'”

Maegan Nunley says Hendrix was a way more approachable breeder than others she contacted when she started her search. Nunley was dwelling in Houston on the time, the place a lot of her inquiries to respected breeders went unanswered or had been lifeless ends, saying that they had no puppies.

“She was good, sort and simple to speak to,” Nunley says. “Being from Arkansas, I used to be glad to see that somebody was doing issues proper. … She all the time researches issues about their well being and the breed, and the choices inform the following one, which may be very admirable.

“Skilled breeders can get caught of their methods, however Marissa tells us about her errors and what she realized from them. She’s clever, sincere, a down-to-earth particular person.”

Hendrix was there for troubleshooting early on and all the time prepared with recommendation for dealing with and grooming. Then she inspired Nunley to strive the canine sport Rally along with her canine Rocket, and the pair earned their first title after some coaching.

The following golden retriever Nunley received from Hendrix, Evie, was a present pet who has gone on to earn a number of titles. Hendrix gave Nunley her first present lead, a 3 foot purple and gold one that each time Evie and Nunley use it, they win.

“She’s beneficiant … and all the time has my again,” Nunley says.

Offering correct look after a golden retriever begins with preliminary well being clearances, akin to checking heads, elbows, having an echocardiogram finished and taking the canine to an ophthalmologist, Hendrix says, nevertheless it goes far past that. Even these preliminary screens generally is a problem to some new homeowners, since not all specialists are close by.

Whereas there’s an ophthalmologist in Little Rock, golden retriever homeowners need to drive to Dallas, Kansas Metropolis or Oklahoma for the heart specialist. After these are finished, it is about studying to handle diet and discovering issues to do collectively that each the canine and particular person can have enjoyable with, Hendrix says.

“Do issues the canine enjoys,” she says. “Canine give a lot to an individual, there isn’t any strategy to ever give sufficient again. That is why I fell in love with them. I did not understand how great life may very well be. It modified my life fully.”


Marissa Hendrix

• DATE AND PLACE OF BIRTH: Jan. 6, 1984, Springdale

• FAMILY: Husband Shane Hendrix, daughter Emma Hendrix, 7

• A TYPICAL SATURDAY NIGHT FOR ME: It would embrace being at a canine occasion, however in any other case our household is normally house having an everyday day with our golden retrievers.

• MY FIRST LITTER OF PUPPIES: Was hectic, difficult, but made me understand how a pet can have an effect on somebody’s life.

• THE QUESTION DOG OWNERS ASK ME THE MOST: What sort of pet food to feed. The reply to that’s primarily based on what works for the digestibility for that exact canine. It is advisable feed them what works for them … and watch their weight.

• I FIND INSPIRATION FOR PUPPY NAMES IN: On a regular basis moments. We had been placing collectively a puzzle and realized what a cute identify that may very well be. Her registered identify is Arkgold Amica the Lacking Piece. We’ve a male upcoming pet named “Ozark” as a result of I really like the Ozarks and he appeared like a pure.

• SOMETHING I THINK EVERYONE SHOULD TRY AT LEAST ONCE: Volunteer in your group in a approach that pursuits you.

• MY FANTASY DINNER GUESTS: I might like to have dinner with the late beloved Betty White and trailblazing woman of Arkansas Alice Walton. Each inspiring lady have been liked by golden retrievers and I might like to swap canine tales.

• THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE IN TERMS OF GOLDEN RETRIEVERS IS: Working by the grieving course of after a crossing of the rainbow bridge.

• MY BEST ADVICE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE GETTING A GOLDEN RETRIEVER FOR THE FIRST TIME IS: Do your analysis. Put money into studying in regards to the dedication of care and wishes concerned in dwelling with a golden retriever. Take into account opening your private home to a rescued canine or fostering as your first possibility. And in the event you determine to get a pet from a breeder, actually dive into the pedigree of the cross, as a result of that’s the place you’re going to get your predictability in your individual canine.

• THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE ME: Optimistic, amiable and empathetic

    “Canine give a lot to an individual, there’s no strategy to ever give sufficient again. That’s why I fell in love with them. I didn’t understand how great life may very well be. It modified my life fully.” – Marissa Hendrix (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)
  photo  “She was dynamic, charismatic and introduced a various group of individuals collectively that day, inspiring all of us to work to serve the breed of canine we love,” says Dr. Christopher Johnson in regards to the formation of the Pure State Golden Retriever Membership and Marissa Hendrix. “It was clear from her management abilities on the match and assembly that we had a president.” (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)  

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