Golden Boys

When Bill Gorgas and his wife, Barbara Davis, adopted golden retrievers Chase and Clancy in 2014, they made a place in their hearts and a home for two of Greenwich’s best known and beloved pets.

The popular canines had spent most of their lives as Greenwich Avenue fixtures—the companions of the late Monsignor Frank Wisell, former pastor of St. Mary’s. They were well-known to Avenue passersbys. “People would often thank us for adopting them,” says Bill, who volunteered to take in the half-siblings after Wisell’s failing health precipitated a move to a nursing home. “But I would say, ‘We got the gift.’” Bill quickly developed a man’s-best-friend bond with both dogs. He calls the too-short year he spent with Clancy “one of the best of my life.” So when Clancy died unexpectedly from a cancer detected only days before his death in June, his heartbroken owners decided to channel their grief to benefit other dogs and their devoted owners.

Bill and Barbara founded Clancy’s Cure, an endowment they created at Stamford’s Cornell University Veterinary Specialists (CUVS) to support research in canine cancer. Bill says they have ambitious goals for the cause, which formally launched last September. The fund will support cutting-edge canine cancer research—studies that Bill notes have significant parallels to trends in human cancer research.

“The focus is on finding more targeted therapies,” explains Dr. Lindsay Thalheim, a veterinary oncologist affiliated with CUVS, who notes that mutations and genetics can play a role in how cancers respond to treatment. “The goal is to maximize the response for the tumor type and even limit toxicity” by providing more personalized therapies.

Unfortunately as this issue was going to press, Bill and Barbara got news that Chase (now thirteen) has the same cancer that took Clancy. Bill says that lavishing attention on Chase and spearheading Clancy’s Cure has helped him process the grief. “So many people have lost pets to cancer, but this helps keep Clancy alive.”



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