Anyone who has had a dog knows that they are more than just a pet; they’re family. They grow up with us, accompany us on our travels (whether the Home Depot or farther afield), and share our homes and everyday experiences. Unfortunately, they are also at risk of developing many of the same illnesses we are, with cancer being one of the most common. In fact, more than one million companion dogs are diagnosed with cancer every year. The most common form of canine cancer is lymphoma, a cancer that affects the immune system and attacks cells in the lymph nodes, bone marrow, spleen, and other parts of the body. As with human cancer diagnoses, it is easy to automatically think the worst, but there is hope for dogs diagnosed with lymphoma.

In an effort to help fight this common form of canine cancer, as well as raise awareness and funds to help fight human forms of leukemia and lymphoma too, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) launched the Dog of the Year contest. This fundraising effort challenges America’s most philanthropic dogs (and their humans) to raise money for both canine and human cancer research. At the end of the four-week fundraising competition, one dog is awarded the prestigious title of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Dog of the Year.

This year’s triumphant pup was Callie, a one-year-old smooth Collie/Shepherd mix from San Antonio, Texas, who along with her owner, Shiloh Barry, and their supporters raised an incredible $15,600 for the cause. Shiloh has been extremely involved with LLS since her sister was diagnosed with stage 3 Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoblastic Lymphoma at age two. She was motivated to enter the Dog of the Year contest, she says, so that no other child or family has to endure what her family experienced. Fortunately, Shiloh’s sister Ella is now in full remission and heading off to college. With her family through the worst, Shiloh felt it was her time to give back, help others (whether child, adult or canine), and honour her sister and others who have battled cancer.

In order to raise over $15,000, Shiloh and Callie used social media, email, and letters to promote their cause. They also organized a series of fun dog-themed events, including a “Yappy Hour,” “Wag Your Tail For Cancer” fitness class, “Pawty with Callie” dog park party, and “Barkin with Callie” karaoke night.

In total, the contest raised over $46,000 for canine and human leukemia and lymphoma research. Funds raised are invested in pioneering research, patient and family support programs, and advocacy efforts to help make treatment more affordable and accessible. It is interesting to note that as dogs and humans are 85-percent genetically identical, cancer affects both species in similar ways. Treatments developed to treat blood cancers in humans can be modified to help treat dogs and vice versa, so whether money is put towards human or canine cancer research, the other will also benefit from the research and treatment breakthroughs, increasing survival rates for both humans and dogs. And that’s something we can get behind!

Interested in supporting The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society? Learn more about their work and donate at And if Callie’s story has motivated you to fundraise in the Dog of the Year contest, the 2020 campaign dates will be announced soon at