Toys & Training

Pet ardour skilled her for her personal form of service

Her title 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 exhibiting Golden Retrievers to teach folks in regards to the explicit 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 canines, household companions, looking companions. Initially, they had been bred to be a gentleman’s looking canine, a companion who might do work within the discipline. Now they’ve form 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 type in Arkansas. Whereas it has an workplace on the Heart for Nonprofits in Rogers for workshops and conferences, it serves all the state and a few surrounding areas. This 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 last 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 apply for the canines and exhibitors since winners should not awarded any AKC factors towards a title.

Hendrix says its members plan to host the primary ever Golden Retriever Specialty for the state in 2023.

“Her aim for the membership is to be completely inclusive,” says Betsy Reithemeyer, who turned to Hendrix to be matched with a number of Golden Retrievers and located an excellent good friend. “She exhibits and breeds and has the best requirements you possibly can have with breeders to affiliate with. The help group she’s constructed is fantastic; it is for the well being and effectively being of the breed and to help households loving these canines.”

Reithemeyer appreciates the collegiality of the group, saying that it is welcoming to folks like her and her husband, who haven’t any intention of breeding or exhibiting their canines, however preserve them as cherished pets and companions.

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

The fame 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 fulfill her as a result of they’d seen a few of her Goldens in Northwest Arkansas.

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

Hendrix informed them on the spot that she needed the identical factor too and thought it was completely attainable.

“It appeared like an unlimited problem to us … however Marissa knew the folks to contact to get began,” Johnson 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 might double because the membership’s first enjoyable match to fulfill 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 canines we love,” Johnson says. “It was clear from her management expertise on the match and assembly that we had a president.”

Hendrix’s skill 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 Dr. Dale and Jeana Kaufman say by e mail. “She’s an excellent consumer who takes accountability to assist construct data and educate folks 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 objectives 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 have the ability to set up a Golden Retriever rescue, since anybody fascinated with discovering their canine that means 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 proper horse. Whereas finding out biochemistry on the College of Arkansas, she labored three part-time jobs to fund her self-described horse obsession, as a licensed 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 panoramic horse,” she says. “She was a dream horse. I made a decision that I needed to attempt 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 she or he was out of funding.

She tried to deal with 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 Golden. At first that meant taking part in make-believe collectively, during which Maggie was a fake horse that younger Marissa would practice to go in circles.

“They’re simply your good friend,” Hendrix says. “You snuggle them and have that skill to make all these issues higher. They’re gifted in that means.”

Whereas nonetheless a school pupil, Hendrix flew out to California, obtained 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 a breeder to make use of her male Golden 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 arrived, the Golden was unable to nurse them, so Marissa bottle fed them each two hours, all morning and all evening and in between her faculty 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 one of the best.

“I used to be starting to comprehend how I needed to be as a breeder in the direction of others,” she says. “Wanting again, I want I might have discovered data to assist me make wiser selections from the beginning.”

Hendrix discovered one other feminine Golden 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. Somewhat than undergo that coronary heart wrenching course of once more, Hendrix traced the pedigree to the supply, somebody with a canine in a unique nation. She used a translator program to speak with the breeder, who then agreed to promote her a Golden Retriever.

On the identical time somebody supplied to purchase Tjiskie, her Frisian horse, and now she wanted the cash to import her new Golden. She cried as she made the choice, then wired the cash and held her breath.

Because of this, Nikki (Yudita) turned Marissa’s basis Golden Retriever — she’s now three generations from her preliminary pedigree. Her breeder had performed all the best well being screenings and due to that, she would have a really wholesome line of canines.


Hendrix, her husband and daughter Emma at present have 15 canines, a each day job that she describes as just like taking good care of a pack of toddlers. She will get up as quickly as the primary animal (or her daughter) wakes, and she or he goes to sleep after the final one closes their eyes. All of them stay on 20 acres within the Russellville space, the place the Goldens have loads of enjoyable operating round. Their household is within the technique of constructing a kennel, the place they hope to have workshops and grooming seminars for the membership in the future. Additionally they lately constructed a technical pond, the place they are going to have the ability to practice canines to retrieve in water. Dock diving, swimming, discipline work and different retrievals all play into the canines’ 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 develop into extra adaptable and assured and carry out temperament testing.

“We interview every household” who’s trying so as to add a Golden 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 will make the Golden an inside companion and will something occur, they will return the canine to her.

“We’re right here for the lifetime of their canines,” she says. “This individual is somebody I’ll keep up a correspondence with for the following decade plus. It is an enormous dedication, taking up all these levels … So much can occur, however we’re there for all the things.”

Marissa and her household usually miss Christmas celebrations, birthdays, weddings and different life occasions as a result of the Goldens come first, and so they take the burden of that accountability very critically. Daughter Emma discovered to stroll by pulling up on the again of a Golden 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 once I obtained pregnant with Emma; she is the present of a lifetime,” Hendrix says. “I am so pleased with her coronary heart and the individual she’s turning into. She’s formally one of the best pet snuggler right here.”


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

Reithemeyer says you possibly can 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 telephone name that they’d was practically an hour lengthy and now she is aware of Hendrix is all the time a telephone name or textual content away, even for the bizarre stuff. “She’s somebody I can textual content in the course of the evening 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 residing in Houston on the time, the place a lot of her inquiries to respected breeders went unanswered or had been useless ends, saying they’d no puppies.

“She was good, type and straightforward 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 discovered from them. She’s clever, trustworthy, a down-to-earth individual.”

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

The following Golden Nunley obtained from Hendrix, Evie, was a present pet who has gone on to earn a number of titles. Hendrix gifted her along with 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 begins with preliminary well being clearances, reminiscent of checking heads, elbows, having an echocardiogram performed and taking the canine to an ophthalmologist, Hendrix says, but it surely goes far past that. Even these preliminary screens is usually a problem to some new house owners, since not all specialists are close by.

Whereas there’s an ophthalmologist in Little Rock, Golden house owners must drive to Dallas, Kansas Metropolis or Oklahoma for the heart specialist. After these are performed, it is about studying to handle vitamin and discovering issues to do collectively that each the Golden and individual can have enjoyable with, Hendrix says.

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


It isn’t shocking that as a woman rising up in Springdale, Hendrix dreamed of turning into a veterinarian or a geriatrician, her love of animals and other people already obvious. She stayed on the transfer operating observe, taking part in basketball and collaborating in lots of golf equipment at school, together with the Nationwide Honor Society. She graduated first in her highschool class, tied with others who had additionally managed to get above a 4.0.

As a scholarship pupil on the College of Arkansas, Hendrix earned a bachelor’s in biochemistry with honors. She utilized to UAMS subsequent, however someplace alongside the way in which realized that she wasn’t lower out to be within the medical discipline. She took a STEM Fellowship to finish graduate work in cell and molecular biology as a substitute.

“I cherished the science, however I needed a change,” Hendrix says. She did vaccine analysis in biomedical engineering lab and did a publication. On the finish of the fellowship, her analysis head inspired her to cease doing work outdoors the lab. If she had, she would doubtless have accomplished her Ph.D., however on the time she felt the necessity to proceed what she was doing, together with the time-consuming work of elevating her Golden’s first few litters.

For a number of years Hendrix was adjunct college at Northwest Arkansas Group Faculty, the place she taught undergraduate chemistry, and likewise taught chemistry labs on the College of Arkansas. As an introvert, she hated getting up in entrance of the category, however discovered it enjoyable to inform them one thing they did not know earlier than.

The times that she was a visiting scientist for native center colleges had been particular ones, the place she cherished the sensation of inspiring younger college students with a love for science.

“I did take pleasure in educating college students,” she says. “I wish to assume that a number of the science I used to be in a position to study is being utilized in the direction of my Golden Retrievers (now).”

It wasn’t till effectively after Marissa met her husband Shane — an eharmony date linked the 2 for espresso — that she thought-about making Golden Retrievers the main focus of her full-time work. As soon as they discovered she was pregnant with Emma, her husband prompt she keep residence to boost her and the canines she cherished a lot.

“Now after 13 years, I’ve canines everywhere in the nation working as predictable service canines, gifted remedy canines, proficient search and rescue canines and looking companions,” she says. “And one of the best function, after all, is of a companion and good friend. They provide us remedy with out even realizing it.

“I consider Golden Retrievers have a proper to be on this world, as a result of they do make it a greater place.”

    Marissa Hendrix helps a golden retriever named Whiskey off of a dock, Saturday, July 16, 2022 at Coolwag in Bentonville. Marissa Hendrix based the Pure State Golden Retriever Membership, the primary accredited membership of its type in Arkansas. She hosted a Dock Diving splash day at Coolwag in Bentonville on Saturday. Go to for in the present day’s photograph gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)

Marissa Ella Hendrix

Date and native land: Jan. 6, 1984, Springdale

Household: husband Shane Hendrix, daughter Emma Hendrix, 7

A typical Saturday evening for me consists of: It would embrace being at a canine occasion, however in any other case our household is normally residence having a daily day with our Goldens.

My first litter of puppies: was aggravating, difficult, but made me understand how a pet can influence somebody’s life.

The perfect recommendation I ever acquired about breeding was to pick for the usual. And one of the best recommendation about exhibiting was discover good basis canines and to encompass your self with supportive mates.

My function is to be right here for the lifetime of my canines and as a help for his or her house owners.

The query canine house owners ask me probably the most: what sort of pet food to feed. The reply to that’s based mostly on what works for the digestibility for that exact canine. It’s good to feed them what works for them… and watch their weight.

I discover inspiration for pet names in: day by day moments. We had been placing collectively a puzzle and realized what a cute title that may very well be. Her registered title 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!

One thing I feel everybody ought to attempt not less than as soon as: to volunteer in your group in a means that pursuits you.

The best impediment the Pure State Golden Retriever Membership is dealing with proper now: is constructing our platforms for outreach and fundraising.

Fantasy dinner visitors: I might like to have dinner with the late beloved Betty White and trailblazing Girl of Arkansas Alice Walton. Each inspiring lady have been cherished by Golden Retrievers and I might like to swap canine tales.

The toughest factor I’ve ever performed by way of Golden Retrievers: is working by the grieving course of after a crossing of the rainbow bridge.

My greatest recommendation for people who find themselves getting a Golden for the first-time: is to do your analysis! Put money into studying in regards to the dedication of care and wishes concerned in residing with a Golden Retriever. Think about opening your private home to a rescue or fostering as your first choice and should you resolve 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 personal canine.

How can you make sure that you’re getting a Golden from a accountable breeder? Confirm that the OFA well being testing on each mother and father that they’ve X-rays after 2 years previous of the mother and father’ hips and elbows, OFA eyes submitted annually, OFA coronary heart checked by a Heart specialist and the DNA panel for situations in regards to the breed are performed. The testing might be simply checked for on by looking out every mother or father canine’s registered title. They need to see a CHIC icon if the assessments are full.

Three phrases to explain me: optimistic, amiable and empathetic


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