Marissa Ella Hendrix

Marissa Ella Hendrix
Marissa Ella Hendrix

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 individuals in regards to the explicit wants and care of this breed — it doesn’t matter what position they hope or think about the canine will tackle.

“They’re versatile,” Hendrix says whereas petting her golden retriever Raye as she talks. “They can be service or therapy dogs, family companions, hunting companions. Originally, they were bred to be a gentleman’s hunting dog, a companion who could do work in the field. Now they’ve kind of molded into life as companions and friends alike.”

Pure State Golden Retriever Membership is a nonprofit group that shaped in Could 2021 and is the primary membership of its sort in Arkansas. Whereas it has an workplace on the Heart for Nonprofits in Rogers for workshops and conferences, it serves your entire state and a few surrounding areas. In October, it will likely be totally licensed with the American Kennel Membership, then it will likely be eligible to use for full approval and recognition by means of 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 canine and exhibitors since winners should 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 goal for the club is to be totally inclusive,” says Betsy Reithemeyer, who turned to Hendrix to be matched with just a few golden retrievers and located pal. “She shows and breeds and has the highest standards you can have with breeders to associate with. The support group she’s built is wonderful; it’s for the health and well being of the breed and to support families loving those dogs.”

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 exhibiting their canine, however preserve them as cherished pets and companions.

“The people are open and welcoming and supportive,” she says. “It’s a group that I’ve so loved getting to know that really celebrates each other’s victories.”

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

“We were immediately struck by Marissa’s passion for the breed, her warmth and her enthusiasm,” Chris Johnson says. “We enjoyed that visit so much that we said, ‘We wish we had a Golden Retriever Club in Arkansas.'”

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

“It seemed like an enormous challenge to us … but Marissa knew the people to contact to get started,” 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 have been able to have their first organizational assembly. It could double because the membership’s first enjoyable match to fulfill AKC necessities for an official membership.

“She was dynamic, charismatic and brought a diverse group of people together that day, inspiring all of us to work to serve the breed of dogs we love,” Johnson says. “It was clear from her leadership skills at the match and meeting that we had a president.”

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

“Marissa’s newly founded club will benefit all by promoting responsible ownership for the breed by making sure everyone is concentrating on improving quality within the breed and not just quantity,” Russellville veterinarians Drs. Dale and Jeana Kaufman say by e-mail. “She’s a very good client who takes responsibility to help build knowledge and educate people on the value of golden retrievers.”

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

“Marissa’s and our goals are simple,” the Kaufmans’ e-mail says. “Put a healthy puppy in a healthy family and watch the relationship grow.”

Hendrix hopes that going ahead the membership will be capable to set up a golden retriever rescue company, since anybody concerned 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 learning 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 breathtaking horse,” she says. “She was a dream horse. I decided that I wanted to try an embryo transfer out of her and have another 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 venture have been unusable by that time, and she or he was out of funding.

She tried to give attention to having fun with her dream horse, however her thoughts saved going again to her rising up years together with her household canine, Maggie. Marissa may do something with that canine. At first that meant taking part in make-believe collectively, by which Maggie was a fake horse that younger Marissa would prepare to go in circles.

“They’re just your friend,” Hendrix says. “You snuggle them and have that ability to make all those things better. They’re gifted in that way.”

Whereas nonetheless a school pupil, Hendrix flew out to California, acquired 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 may preserve a pet from the ensuing litter. She requested in regards to the male’s well being clearances, which the breeder mentioned have been nice, so Hendrix did not confirm for herself.

When the 13 puppies have 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 faculty programs. All of them survived, however Hendrix was exhausted.

Later, she would study by means of 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 saved. It ended her hope to have pedigree from her first canine, however she believed it was for one of the best.

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 have been born, the breeder mentioned she misplaced her reservation and had bought her pet to another person by mistake. Moderately than undergo that coronary heart wrenching course of once more, Hendrix traced the pedigree to the supply, somebody with a canine in a special 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 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) grew to become Marissa’s basis golden retriever — she’s now three generations from her preliminary pedigree. Her breeder had accomplished 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 at present look after 15 canine, a every day process that she describes as much like caring for 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 its eyes. All of them stay on 20 acres within the Russellville space, the place the canine 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 at some point. In addition they lately constructed a technical pond, the place they may be capable to 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 duty 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 means of packages to grow to be extra adaptable and assured and carry out temperament testing.

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

“We’re here for the lifetime of their dogs,” she says. “This person is someone I’m going to be in contact with for the next decade plus. It’s a huge commitment, taking on all those stages … A lot can happen, but we’re there for everything.”

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

“We received a huge surprise when I got pregnant with Emma; she is the gift of a lifetime,” Hendrix says. “I’m so proud of her heart and the person she’s becoming. She’s officially the best puppy snuggler here.”


Individuals who get golden retrievers from their household contact Hendrix for all method of issues, from the easy questions of what flea and tick preventive to make use of, to the extra complicated issues like the best 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, understanding they are going to be met with real curiosity and care.

“She’s so open … she knows each puppy, each personality and works hard to match the puppy with the family,” Reithemeyer says. The primary cellphone name that they’d was almost an hour lengthy and now she is aware of Hendrix is at all times a cellphone name or textual content away, even for the bizarre stuff. “She’s someone I can text in the middle of the night and say ‘My dog is eating (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 have been lifeless ends, saying they’d no puppies.

“She was nice, kind and easy to talk to,” Nunley says. “Being from Arkansas, I was glad to see that someone was doing things right. … She always researches things about their health and the breed, and the decisions inform the next one, which is 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, trustworthy, a down-to-earth individual.”

Hendrix was there for troubleshooting early on and always ready with advice for handling and grooming. Then she encouraged Nunley to try the dog sport Rally with her dog Rocket, and the pair earned their first title after some training.

The next golden retriever Nunley got from Hendrix, Evie, was a show puppy who has gone on to earn several titles. Hendrix gave Nunley her first show lead, a three foot purple and gold one that every time Evie and Nunley use it, they win.

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

Providing proper care for a golden retriever starts with initial health clearances, such as checking heads, elbows, having an echocardiogram done and taking the dog to an ophthalmologist, Hendrix says, but it goes far beyond that. Even those initial screens can be a challenge to some new owners, since not all specialists are nearby.

While there’s an ophthalmologist in Little Rock, golden retriever owners have to drive to Dallas, Kansas City or Oklahoma for the cardiologist. After those are done, it’s about learning to manage nutrition and finding things to do together that both the dog and person can have fun with, Hendrix says.

“Do issues the canine enjoys,” she says. “Canines give a lot to an individual, there is no option 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 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 might include being at a dog event, but otherwise our family is usually home having a regular day with our golden retrievers.

• MY FIRST LITTER OF PUPPIES: Was stressful, challenging, yet made me realize how a puppy can affect someone’s life.

• THE QUESTION DOG OWNERS ASK ME THE MOST: What type of dog food to feed. The answer to that is based on what works for the digestibility for that particular dog. You need to feed them what works for them … and watch their weight.

• I FIND INSPIRATION FOR PUPPY NAMES IN: Everyday moments. We were putting together a puzzle and realized what a cute name that could be. Her registered name is Arkgold Amica the Missing Piece. We have a male upcoming puppy named “Ozark” because I love the Ozarks and he seemed like a natural.

• SOMETHING I THINK EVERYONE SHOULD TRY AT LEAST ONCE: Volunteer in your community in a way that interests you.

• MY FANTASY DINNER GUESTS: I would love to have dinner with the late beloved Betty White and trailblazing lady of Arkansas Alice Walton. Both inspiring woman have been loved by golden retrievers and I would love to swap dog stories.

• THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE IN TERMS OF GOLDEN RETRIEVERS IS: Working through the grieving process 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 research. Invest in learning about the commitment of care and needs involved in living with a golden retriever. Consider opening your home to a rescued dog or fostering as your first option. And if you decide to get a puppy from a breeder, really dive into the pedigree of the cross, because that is where you will get your predictability in your own dog.

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

  Marissa Ella Hendrix  “Dogs give so much to a person, there’s no way to ever give enough back. That’s why I fell in love with them. I didn’t realize how wonderful life could be. It changed my life completely.” – Marissa Hendrix (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)
  photo  “She was dynamic, charismatic and brought a diverse group of people together that day, inspiring all of us to work to serve the breed of dogs 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 leadership skills at the match and meeting that we had a president.” (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)  

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