Saturday, December 27, 2008

Chat Live with Yer Big Dog!

Luke and The Boys will make a special appearance in the Live Tripawds Chat Room from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. (PST) this Monday, December 29. Drop by to say "Hi!" or ask any questions about their life on the road, so far.

Visitors can view the chat but you must register or log in to participate. Registration is free, subscribes you to Jerry's Three legged Dog Blog and enables access to your own profile in the Tripawds Discussion Forums.

Plenty of three legged friends and their people are eager to hear what Yer Big Dog is up to, and how Hudson and Murphy are doing. Hope you'll be there too! See ya online.

Yet Another Winter Risk to Worry About!


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day Romp

Hudson Meet Watson, a one year old Old English Sheepdog. Kinda makes me proud of the little tyke...

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from everyone at 2 Dogs 2000 Miles

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Two Dogs Walk 2K Miles for Cancer

Here's a great article published on 12/11/08 on ZooToo by Amy Lieberman.

December 11, 2008
Two Dogs Walk 2K Miles for Cancer

Luke Robinson and his two Great Pyrenees dogs are walking from Austin, Texas, to Boston, Mass., in name of one beloved dog and the untreatable cancer that took his life.

NEW YORK -- Luke Robinson's Great Pyrenees, Malcolm, died two years ago, but he remains committed to giving the dog's memory the walk of a lifetime -- all the way from Austin, Texas, to Boston.

Robinson and his two other Great Pyrenees, Hudson and Murphy, set out from Texas on foot -- and paws -- in March, in no hurry to reach their final destination.

"I have devoted the rest of my life to canine cancer, to raising awareness for it," the 37-year-old said.

The former business consultant says he was not a likely candidate to follow a risky course -- quit his high-profile job, sell his car, place all of his possessions in storage and transport his urban life to the backroads of the country.

But after Malcolm, then age 6, was diagnosed with cancer in 2004, Robinson's previous sense of purpose was thrown out the doggy door.

"It really shattered my world," Robinson said. "He was my boy. He wasn't my blood, but he was my boy. My days rose and set with him. He was a part of me."

Laying Malcolm to rest two years after his diagnosis, however, didn't lead Robinson to relinquish his battle against the fatal cancer.

The man who used to sing Malcolm bedtime songs began to ask questions: Why did this have to happen to his otherwise healthy dog, especially at such a young age? And, if Malcolm was only one of many dogs plagued by cancer, why weren't people paying more attention?

The latter is a question that too few people are actually broaching, Robinson says.

"There really is no chemo treatment for dogs," he said. "The vast majority of drugs out there only slow the progression. There really isn't that much out there, and when I began to fully appreciate the disparity between human and pet medical science, I realized there was a huge problem."

Most pet owners fail to recognize the serious threat of canine cancer, from which around 50 percent of dogs will eventually die, says Gary Nice, founder of the National Canine Cancer Foundation.

"Their pets get diagnosed, and then people come to us all the time, saying 'I didn't realize it was that bad of a situation.' "

Like Robinson, Nice decided to take action and establish the foundation after he lost his golden retriever, Bailey, to bone cancer several years ago; he has since seen two more of his goldens succumb to the same disease.

Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Flat-Coated Retrievers and Bernese Mountain dogs are predisposed to cancer, Nice says. Pedigree dogs, especially show dogs, like his own, also tend to experience more diagnoses, given their smaller, exclusive breeding circuit.

Around $5 million is spent on canine cancer research every year in the United States, compared with the $500 million that human cancer research receives annually, Nice says.

Unable to brush off these statistics in the aftermath of Malcolm's death, Robinson transmitted his grief into energy -- enough to sustain him and Murphy, 2, and Hudson, 7, as they complete their nearly 2,000 mile trek.

"I just wasn't willing to let his loss go in vain," Robinson said. "Whatever we do, we have to get the awareness out there for this issue."

Robinson and "the boys," as he calls them, planned the journey as an 11-month excursion, a goal that could be met if they traveled eight to 10 miles a day. Obstacles along the way, however, have slowed their progress -- as they now near Bowling Green, Ky., the trio has so far walked around 921 miles.

Steering clear of major interstates and highways, Robinson, normally weighed down with a 90- to 100-pound backpack, likes to take things step by step.

Robinson's volunteer team of six is crucial in coordinating his itinerary, which can be tracked on his blog, 2Dogs2000Miles.org.

"We are always trying to find someone who can pick him up off the road, find someone to take him to someplace warm, or let him spend the night at their house," said Ginger Morgan, the spokeswoman of Robinson's team.

"I sometimes feel like I am trying to find a place for Joseph and Mary."

Morgan generally finds success in persuading strangers, from veterinarians to church employees, to assist Robinson and his dogs in some fashion.

Relying on the kindness of strangers, though, is becoming more challenging, as Robinson heads north, away from the Southern community with which Morgan, who lives in Memphis, Tenn., has contacts.

Donations partially sustain Robinson's relatively frugal lifestyle, but his personal savings also bolster his budget, which lends to a regular diet of ramen noodles and trail mix.

When staying with strangers is not an option, Robinson doesn't mind shacking up with "the boys" in his tent. Come nightfall, the dogs take turns cuddling with their owner in his sleeping bag, in order to stay warm.

During days off, they sometimes perform meet-and-greets with spectators, who turn out to catch the trio while they can.

The dogs are troopers, Robinson says, and can outlast him any day on the walking trail.

"Hudson and Murphy are the stars of the show," Robinson said. "I'm just the guy carrying their luggage."

The team will soon weave through Kentucky, then cut north to pass through major cities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and finally, Massachusetts. Robinson hopes to arrive in Boston by this summer.

He doesn't know where his pursuits will then take him, but doubts he will return to the world of business.

"This is my life, now," Robinson said. "I loved Malcolm. He is the inspiration and motivation that enabled me to gear myself up for this journey. This is just the first step."

A first step that will stop at nothing short of 2,000 miles and a lifetime to spare.

Please also take time to read the generous and positive comments posted after the article.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Smooch!


Hudson is definitely a lady's man! Here Hudsy is getting a big smooch from a young admirer, Tory, at the Christmas Parade in White House, Kentucky.

Not one to be denied, Tory kept puckering up, trying to steal a kiss from Handsome Hudson. Luke finally caught this picture. Hudson, his usual charming self, accepted her admiration with humility and a wink.

Welcome, Sarah Elizabeth!

Congratulations to Dawn and Mark Robinson and Uncle Luke! Sarah Elizabeth Robinson arrived at 8 pounds 3 ounces (the last time she will ever divulge her weight).

Luke is excited and grateful to now be an Uncle six times over (his 6th niece). This is Dawn and Mark's first child and, needless to say, Uncle Luke is very happy too. Well, now we'll have to rechristen him from Yer Big Dog to Uncle Luke!

Welcome to the world, Sarah Elizabeth!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Calendar Contest Winners

“Announcing the top 13 submissions is bittersweet for us. All of the 82 stories and photos touched us deeply and we wish there was enough room to feature everyone.”

“Thanks to all of those who submitted photos and stories, and all who voted. The response was overwhelming and perfect proof that cancer can’t keep a good dog (or cat) down. Most of these companions have left us, some many years ago, but it is evident that their spirits are still present in, and part of us, our families, and our friends. It is truly an honor and privilege to offer this tribute to our beloved companions touched by cancer.”

“So that all of their stories might be told in their entirety, we have launched our puppy up! blog where people will be invited to share the stories of their loved one’s undaunted puppy up spirit. Over the next few days everyone who submitted a story for the calendar will be invited to participate as a guest author to share their companion’s stories in their entirety.”

Thank you all,
Hudson, Murphy, and Your Big Dog

Congratulations to our top 13 winners and to ALL who participated in the “Cancer Can’t Keep A Good Dog Down” Calendar. Your enthusiasm and generosity honors everyone listed below.

1 Princess Daisy - 1025
2 Arnold - 583
3 Clondike - 578
4 Snowbear - 578
5 Jerry - 503
6 Elwood - 461
7 Maggie - 461
8 Hannah - 430
9 Coatey 427
10 Rosco - 427
11 Trina - 416
12 Jayce - 337
13 Lily 333
14 Tigger 322
15 Buster 317
16 Echo 300
17 Raven 291
18 Codi 275
19 Bond 215
20 So-Lei 191
21 Harry - 186
22 Chewie - 172
23 Carrier - 155
24 Cinnamon - 127
25 Harriet - 111
26 Brody - 90
27 Cagney - 87
28 Indiana - 87
29 Cheyanne - 81
30 Ephram 78
31 Buster M. - 71
32 Harlow - 65
33 Stella - 61
34 Bear - 56
35 Bella - 55
36 Nosey - 55
37 Big Tex - 53
38 Hershey - 52
39 TT - 50
40 Nika 46
41 Ellie 40
42 Jillianne - 35
43 Winston - 35
44 Nikita - 33
45 Zoe - 26
46 Malcolm - 25
47 Griffin - 21
48 Bo Peep - 20
49 Abigail - 18
50 Teddy Bear - 18
51 Drago - 17
52 Murphy - 17
53 Beau & Benny - 16
54 Bingo - 16
55 Sturmie - 14
56 Holly 13
57 Mali - 13
58 Linga - 12
59 Debo - 11
60 Genie - 10
61 Ophelia - 10
62 Finnegan - 9
63 Luna - 9
64 Sunshine - 8
65 Gunner - 6
66 Kiah - 6
67 Remy - 6
68 Coco - 5
69 Pennbo - 4
70 Winston L - 4
71 Boston - 3
72 Boyfriend - 3
73 Brandi - 3
74 Brittagh & Gryffin - 3
75 Brock - 3
76 Cedric - 3
77 Daisy M. - 3
78 Guinness - 3
79 Nutmeg - 3
80 Rascal - 3
81 Schatzi - 3
82 Shilo - 3

Thank you for your patience while we counted and recounted every vote. We will have more details on the calendar soon, as well as information on becoming a guest author on the Puppy Up! blog. For more timely updates, please consider subscribing to the 2 Dogs Daily email.

Puppy Up!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Warm and Toasty Wish List


Hudson here. I'm probably not supposed to be playing around on The Bloginator's computer, but if I have Murphy vacuum off all the white hairs and dog prints, and squeegee the screen where I kinda slobbered, I should be pretty safe. And, after all, what The Bloginator doesn't know won't hurt him.

Look, this is the thing. You may have noticed that our Papa, Luke, has skin, not fur. And he's going into cold and snowy weather, which Murphy and I like (pretty much) but which could freeze Papa's not-so-little tootsies off if he doesn't have the right stuff for the trip. And if he freezes his not-so-little tootsies off, he can't walk, and if he can't walk then we can't walk, and then where will we be? So, we put together a "Wish List" for our Dad and went down to this really cool store in Memphis called Outdoors, Inc. and had stuff put on lay-away. Yes, stores are doing lay-away again after all these years. We understand from The Bloginator (who is really really old in dog years — heck, he may even be mummified for all we know) that law-away is something people used to do all the time when he was a kid and the Earth was still cooling. Instead of charging something, people put it on law-away and paid for it on time until it was all paid for, and then they could cart it all home with them. Aren't humans clever?

Anyway, I digress. Murphy and I put together a list of some of the things Papa needs to walk this winter without freezing his bum off. With the assistance of some pretty nice humans at the store called Outdoors, Inc. we have some great things put on lay-away to help Papa stay warm while he's walking in the ice and snow and wind and sleet and blizzards and avalanches (well, maybe not avalanches) of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and, well, wherever we're going. (OK, I can type but I don't read maps. That's why we have Papa.) But we need your help. While Papa feeds us really good, and hugs on us a lot, he doesn't give us any allowance (can you believe that?), so we need help buying these neat things to help keep him warm. You see, if he's warm, we're warm. Does that make sense? Murphy said it would.

So here's the list (it's called "Luke Robinson's Lay-away Items") and the phone number to Outdoors, Inc. is 901-722-8988, where you can call and help us pay for the lay-away stuff. You can talk to a nice lady there named Robin — she knows all about the lay-away stuff — and she can help with any amount of money you'd like to give to help pay for the stuff Papa needs. If Robin is not there, you can ask for Rachel or Callie because they know about the lay-away stuff and they're very nice too.

So here’s our List called the "Luke Robinson's Lay away Items" from Outdoors, Inc. in Memphis:

(1) North Face Red Point Jacket - size XL - price is $170.50. (That is with the nice 15% discount they gave us because we're really nice dogs). This is a great jacket with a hood and is water resistant. Murphy did some research and learned that layering is the way to go for people without fur. So Papa can put this over the shirts he wears and stay toasty warm.

(2) North Face Venture Pants - size XL - $59.50 (with our doggie discount). Papa really does already have pants, but these are water resistant and will help him keep dry in the rain and snow.

Papa also has a neat Registry on-line for other things he will need along the way. So if you’d like to see some of these things, you can follow this link.

Any dehydrated food packs for Papa would be great. Vegetarian please. While Murphy and I eat meat, Papa is really a plant eater. Gross, I know. But he likes veggies. You can find a list of the veggie packs he likes on the registry. But maybe you could take it easy on the stuff with beans in it? We have to sleep with him in a very small tent.

Oh, and if you'd like to help Murphy and me, since we might need some extra warmth too, Papa has put up a link on the registry for some warm and toasty fleece dog warmers we'd really like to have, if you'd be so kind. You can see them here and read all about them here. Murphy would like a size XL in green and I would like the size X in red, please. Not only will we be nice and warm, but we will look very stylish!

Oh, please remember — if you do help buy the lay-away goodies (any donation, big or small, will be greatly appreciated) please email our friends Ginger at ginger@2dogs2000miles.org or Lori at lori@2dogs2000miles.org and let them know who you are, how to contact you, the amount you donated and for what stuff. Lori would like to be sure and send you a thank you card (she is very thoughtful), and Ginger needs to keep track of how much is donated and by whom (because she keeps track of things like that).

We would be thankful for ANY donations to Papa’s list of stuff. He has a great sleeping bag and other things for the trip, but he could really use the jacket and pants to keep him warm and dry. And of course, he doesn’t eat Honest Kitchen food like we do, so he could use some food packs. He’s really a good cook, but it’s hard to cook on the road, especially in the cold and sleet and wind and ice and blizzards and avalanches (OK, Murphy said enough with the avalanches).

Thank you very much for your help.

Your friends,

Hudson & Murphy

2,000-mile trek focuses on canine cancer


Activist uses grief over stricken dog in a positive way

FRANKLIN — Dog owners know that their pups like going for walks. But for Luke Robinson and his two Great Pyrenees, this just might be going a little overboard.

Robinson and "the boys" — Murphy, 7, and Hudson, 2 — are walking more than 2,000 miles from their home in Austin, Texas, to Boston to combat canine cancer.

Still less than halfway to their goal, the trio was passing through Williamson County when they stopped at Winstead Hill, the Confederate overlook during the Battle of Franklin in 1864. The symbolism wasn't lost on Robinson as his two big, white dogs took a breather at the picnic table.

"A great battle happened here a long time ago. But when we started this walk in March, this became our own personal war," Robinson said.

Personally, Robinson knows the sorrow of losing a pet to cancer. His Great Pyrenees Malcolm was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2004 and passed away two years later. To use his grief in a positive way, he decided to spread the word to those who had never heard of canine cancer.

"Our goal is to get the message out about the canine cancer crisis," he said.

Robinson opens his jacket to reveal a T-shirt decorated with names such as Marshmellow, Tango and Duchess written across the front.

"I'm a walking memorial. These are 160 names of the pets touched by cancer. They are my walking angels," he said.

To accompany him on the long hike, which is known as "2 Dogs 2000 Miles," are playful Hudson and the more stoic Murphy. Robinson calls himself — the leader of the pack — "The Big Dog."

Memories made

Robinson was very impressed with the Williamson County topography.

"I've got to say, this area has some of the most beautiful landscape and most unique terrain I've ever seen," he said.

An unseasonably cold wave that gripped the Middle Tennessee area this week didn't bother the dogs. They enjoy walking in cooler temperatures, Robinson said.

Usually, the trio hikes eight to 10 miles each day. The dogs wear booties to protect their paws from rough pavement. And Robinson walks closest to traffic just in case he needs to quickly push his traveling companions out of the way of danger — a scenario that's happened several times on this trip.

During their travels, Robinson also has been mistaken for homeless and for "some dead guy on the side of the road." And there was that time he and the boys battled a brown recluse spider infestation in a way station in Texarkana, Ark.

These adventures and more can be found on their blog. (Visitors to their Web site also can buy merchandise.)

But mostly, he's impressed with the generosity of those he's met. One woman who had lost her dog to cancer drove hundreds of miles just to meet The Big Dog and the boys.

They plan on completing the journey when they pull into Boston, probably in May or June.

"We're not even halfway there. And I can't tell you all the colorful characters and wonderful adventures we've had.

"I used to watch that show with the crab fishermen — The Deadliest Catch — and think they were fearless. But now, that's nothing," Robinson said.

Thanks to Bonnie Burch bburch@tennessean.com and The Tennessean for writing this article.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

On The Road in Franklin, TN


The Williamson Herald newspaper just published a great article and photo about The Boys as they passed through Franklin, Tennessee. Written by Mindy Tate, Williamson Herald Editor, the article, entitled "A Man and his Dogs," reprinted below, tells a bit about the Boys and their journey so far.

By Mindy Tate, Williamson Herald Editor
mtate@williamsonherald.com

It might have been Luke Robinson’s idea to walk 2,400 miles across the United States with his two Great Pyrenees dogs to call attention to canine cancer, but in fact it is Murphy and Hudson who are walking Robinson, not the other way around.

Robinson is making his way across Williamson County this week and will visit Happy ReTales in Brentwood’s Creekside Crossing off Old Hickory Boulevard Saturday, Nov. 22, from 2-5 p.m.

He’s en route to Boston with his two “boys,” whose combined weight is close to 180 pounds. They left Austin, Texas, in March with a mission — to raise awareness of canine cancer and raise funds for the first-ever nationwide epidemiological canine cancer study.

For Robinson, it is personal. He lost “his boy” Malcolm, another Great Pyrenees, to osteosarcoma in 2006. Robinson was working a 90-plus-hour work week when Malcolm was diagnosed as the founder and head of a high tech and life science business consulting firm, but when the dog became sick, his perspective and focus changed.

“I rarely left his side after that,” Robinson said in a break from the road. “It was truly a life defining experience and one that’s made me re-evaluate my place in the world and what my contribution can be.”

Murphy, who is about 7 years old, and Hudson, just a pup at 2 years old and 55 pounds or so, are the real celebrities of the walk, Robinson said.

“I am just the guy carrying the luggage,” he said. Each of them is armed with a backpack, although the ones carried by the animals contain mainly their snacks and supplies while Robinson is carrying a tent and things to sustain the trio along the road.

They set out from Austin in March headed for Boston, which is Robinson’s home. They expected to be further along the route than they are, but as fate would have it, Murphy had his own brush with canine cancer and there was some recovery time spent just after the walk began.

Robinson remembers mosquitoes “as big as sparrows” while walking through the Arkansas Delta in July. They hit Memphis in late August and have stopped along the way to volunteer at different shelters or humane associations to volunteer. Each time they do, Wagatha’s Extraordinary Biscuits for Dogs donates a 10-pound bag of treats to those shelters.

Those days volunteering has also given Robinson the chance to interact with animal lovers, experts, caregivers and those doing research into canine cancer and perhaps only deepened his resolve to get a national dialogue started.

“Definitely it has made the experience richer and fuller after hearing all of the stories,” he said. “It has helped to tighten the focus of the mission. People want to know what is causing canine cancer and we have found that canine cancer is a crisis. Not only is cancer significant in dogs, but it is also hitting them at a younger age. It is so prevalent that some dogs are having their life spans downgraded.”

Malcolm was only 6 when he was diagnosed, Robinson said, and 8 when he was given what Robinson describes as rest. He is making the trip with the trio though, as Robinson wears one of his claws and some of his ashes in memorial around his neck, and carries a St. Francis medal in his pocket given to him by his mother, herself a breast cancer survivor.

While walking, people often stop and talk to Robinson about what he is doing or offer to let him stay in their homes. But be forewarned, the three come as a package. If they dogs aren’t welcome, then Robinson will choose to camp out with them.

“When we are walking, we are working,” Robinson said. “When I get on the road with them and they get a rhythm, we work well together…the first 15 minutes, they are just pulling me.”

They average eight to 10 miles per day and at that pace won’t make it to Boston on their original timetable. Instead they will brave the winter months and hope to arrive to a celebratory event sometime in the spring.

Robinson’s Web site, www.2dogs2000miles.org, has a lot of information regarding the walk and “puppy up” products you can buy to support their walk and the mission of canine cancer research, but there are things you can do if you see the trio on the road.

“If they lost a companion pet, we have a memorial shirt,” Robinson said, showing a shirt with the names of animal’s lost to canine cancer. “Whenever we have to dig deep, all I have to do is look at my shirt to know there are angels walking with us.

“Another thing people can do is stop and give them hugs,” Robinson said of the dogs. Hudson greets all visitors by standing on his hind legs before throwing his paws around your neck.

“We are fine with pitching a tent on the side of the road, but we are also looking for safer places to stay,” Robinson said of church yards or halls, private homes and other facilities that allow the dogs to stay with him.

“Last and most important is to help get the message out there of canine cancer,” Robinson said of the things that people can do.

Thanks to Mindy Tate of the Williamson Herald for covering the story.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Tripawds Connection

Another guest blog here, this time from Jim and RenĂ© of tripawds.com – Jerry's place for three legged dogs and their people ...

Hudson and Murphy party with Jim and JerryThe bonds we share with our animals strengthen even more when they become sick.

Only people who have been through the battle with cancer in their dog can truly understand how strong this bond can be. In turn, they easily develop tight bonds with others who have shared the same experience.

Case in Point: The Tripawds / 2 Dogs connection.

We met Yer Big Dog online after receiving a comment from him on our three legged dog videos of Jerry – our own canine cancer hero. After learning about Malcolm and the 2000 mile walk Luke is undertaking to help raise awareness and funds for cancer research, we bonded immediately.

But let us step back a bit ... Jerry was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the fall of 2006. After his amputation we decided to sell our home and business to travel the country with him. He was given only about three or four months to live and we wanted to spend all that time with him.

Three legged dog Jerry reaches the AtlanticWe hit the road in our RV, exploring the country and spreading the word that it's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four. We traveled from one coast to the other while Jerry continued to amaze us, outliving all the doctors' expectations, and developing a community of support along the way through his Tripawd Discussion Forums.

After reaching the Atlantic ocean in Maine, and spending time on a farm in Florida, we were headed back west when we heard of the launch date for the 2 Dogs 2000 Miles walk from Austin to Boston. A launch party was in order.

What a pleasure it was to meet Luke and the boys in person (and in dog). We gathered at a park where a handful of three legged dogs joined us for food and fun times.

Tripawds team meets Big Dog and the Boys

The next week, Hudson and Murphy would lead Yer Big Dog on the beginning of their amazing journey. But not before we produced a video interview and had a major sleep-over party – three people and three big dogs in a 24' trailer.

Soon we were both on the road. Each heading our separate ways – but both crossing the U.S. – with a common cause. To spread the word about the scourge that is cancer in dogs. Granted, we have it a bit more comfortable in our trailer, while Luke hikes and sleeps on the ground. But he does have Hudson and Murphy to keep him comfortable.

Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Jerry on October 3, nearly two years after his amputation. But our hike shall go on. And we will continue to support the efforts of everyone here at 2 Dogs 2000 Miles.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bloggin' With Bob

Today we have another very special guest blogging with us. You may be familiar with his blog, "Daisy and Bob's Blog." Bob has a unique perspective on the world, and we hope you enjoy our conversation.

How did you get started writing a blog? I kinda just inherited The Blogging Business when my BFF Daisy passed away. She wouldn’t let me help her because she said I was too dumb to write a blog, but after she passed away, a lot of my friends thought I should have a chance. I was so scared in the beginning and lots of time I am still scared when I have some real reporting to do, but I think I am doing a pretty good job.

Why would a dog write a blog? For the same reason that two-legs write a blog. Daisy (and now me) want to share our stories with you, and all our other friends.

How do you manage using the keyboard? Fortunately, I was able to watch Daisy in action and I got lots of lessons from her, even when she didn’t think I was listening. Daisy really did think I was – in her words: “dumb as a stump.” I don’t actually use the keyboard, I just think things into my Mom’s head and she uses the keyboard for me.

The title of your blog says “Daisy and Bob’s Blog.” Who is Daisy? This is sort of complicated. My 2-legged Mom is named Patti and her 2-legged daughter is named Lydia. So technically that makes Lydia my 2-legged sister. Daisy was the four-legged daughter of my sister, Lydia. This made my Mom into Daisy’s Gram and technically this made Daisy my niece. But normally nieces are younger than their Uncles, right? So I just thought of Daisy as my own sister and most importantly as my BFF.

One time Daisy sent a letter to Regis & Kelly because she wanted them to help her be on The Bachelorette (this was a long time ago, when Daisy was just a sweet young thing). This is how Daisy described herself:

"My name is Lewsen’s Princess Daisy Dawg and as you can see from my photo, I am an English Bulldog. I am very talented and I am a good writer. I know you are familiar with other famous bulldogs, and perhaps you know of that Zelda dog who has a lot of costumes? She is not a good writer, and I am. That is why I am a princess and she is not."

How did you hear about 2dogs2000miles.org? We heard about 2dogs2000miles from our dear friend Tracie Hotchner. Lydia got to be on one of Tracie’s radio shows and Luke got to talk a little bit before Lydia got to talk and Tracie thought that Hudson should be running for President of our Country and maybe Daisy should be the Vice-President.

Tell me something about yourself that you’d like to share with readers. I know they can visit your blog, but perhaps tell them something special about yourself they may not have learned from your blog. I am very proud of my four-legged Mom and Dad. People only hear bad things about us (Pit Bulls) all the time, but my Mom and my Dad were National Weight Pulling Champions. They trained very hard to compete and to let other people know that Pit Bulls could compete in the right kind of championships. It takes a very, very special Pit Bull to do this, and that would NOT be me. I hope my Mom is as proud of me as I am of her even though I don’t want to pull heavy weights.

Sometimes Pit Bulls can be very misunderstood. What would you like people to know about Pit Bulls? Pit Bulls are by nature very kind and very gentle. The way people think about me after they read my Blogging is what I truly am and what most of us really are.

Why do you and your people support 2Dogs2000Miles? Who would not support you after they learn about you? Oops….. Mom says that sounded smarty pants. Sorry.

We support you because “We Have a Dream”. We believe that there will be a CAUSE for Cancer discovered because of all of Luke and Hudson and Murphy’s thousands of miles of walking. And we believe that when the CAUSE for Cancer is found, then the CURE for Cancer will come racing right along behind.

Our Daisy-Girl had an awful tumor on her heart and this caused her to cross The Rainbow Bridge much sooner than she would have. If I --- me --- Bob ---- can do even one tiny little thing to help with our dreams coming true, then I will use all of my stubborn side to do it. Soon.
Who is Lily? After Daisy died it was very sad in our home. I did feel like I had lost my bestest friend ever and I didn’t know what I was going to do. My Mom said the loneliness was pouring out of our houses and then we found out about Lily. And the sunlight started coming back. Since Lily is (like Daisy was)…. The 4-legged daughter of my sister, Lydia, then that makes her my Niece. I really do feel like Uncle Bob this time, because Lily is so small and I am almost two years old so I am all grown up and ready for that responsibility.

Lily is 9 weeks old and she is an English Bull Dog. She was born in Big Stone Gap, Virginia and her true name is Lewsen’s Lily of the Valley. She has a full set of very sharp baby teeth.

Your people have been some of our best donors to 2Dogs and we really thank them. Why do you think they do this? We want to help however we can, and since we aren’t on the Walking Trail, we thought some money would come in handy to help the research. If we were closer to where Mr. Luke is walking, we would come and walk with him. I really like Hudson and Murphy and I would like to meet them sometime. And also when we donate to help this cause, we also have a way to remember all of our wonderful clients who passed away. We try to help get their names onto Luke’s shirts.

You sent us some wonderful pictures. Who is the person who took your pictures? Our wonderful photo grapher (that's what Daisy called her -- a picture taking person: photo grapher) is Bev Hollis and her web site is www.bevhollisphoto.com You should take a few minutes to play with your Mouse Person, get him in a good mood and then ask him to help you look at Bev's photos. You can look at the Puppy Series section under my name (me -- BOB) We would like it very, very much if you added our Miss Bev (who is also a vet doctor) to our Circle of Friends. I used to be her Main Man until Baby Lil came along. Poor me, tossed aside for a prettier face.

I know dogs are very philosophical beings. Do you have a particular philosophy about Life you’d like to share with our readers? My goal in life is to have friends and to love them. My goal is to take care of my family of four-legs and my 2-legged family too. My goal is to learn to Dance and then never to stop dancing. Maybe I didn’t think this philosophy up all by my self, because if you ask your Mouse Person to put two-words (Keep Dancing) into the Google Machine, you will see how many writers and other people use those words to encourage others to always move forward even when times are hard. But maybe your readers don’t understand that dogs can dance, and that we believe in the really, truly meaning of those words! I wonder if I can get a bracelet that says “Keep Dancing”?

From a dog’s point of view, if you could make people understand one thing about cancer, what would it be? Because you are people and have two legs and opposable thumbs, you have the ability to STOP cancer. Maybe not in my lifetime, and certainly not in the lifetimes of all the wonderful dogs who currently suffer from this awful thing -- but soon. Everyone who is doing research needs to start working together and getting along with each other. If all of the research people would forget about the prize and think about the reason they were doing the research in the first place, I think the solution would come much faster.

If you could make humans understand one thing about dogs, what would that one thing be? Dogs have the basic nature and ability to get along with each other unless people teach them not to do that. Too bad people are not more like us.

Very special thanks to Patti Best for her help in translating Pit Bull to English. Please visit Bob, Lily, Princess Daisy, and Patti at: http://blog.everythingandthedog.com/.

Thanks, Bob! Puppy up!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Yummy New Flavor at The Honest Kitchen

One of the things I first personally learned about fighting my dog's cancer was to improve her diet. At the time my sweet Linga was diagnosed with leukemia, I had never heard of The Honest Kitchen, and neither had my vet. But, as many authorities on nutrition will tell you, a good diet for our animals is one of the best ways we can help to protect our companions and keep their systems healthy, and a healthy diet is an integral part of cancer treatment.

Recently I learned that The Honest Kitchen, one of 2Dogs' very first sponsors, has a new product they're offering. If you've never checked out The Honest Kitchen's line of products, please do. I know Hudson and Murphy absolutely love their Honest Kitchen food. Anyway, the company has just developed a new product for those of us on a tight budget, without sacrificing the quality and high standards they're known for. Their newest product is called "Keen" and if you'll follow the link you'll see all the good things that it's made with. All their foods are human grade, and Keen is made from hormone-free turkey, organic oats, potatoes, organic flax, carrots, cabbage, alfalfa, organic kelp, apples, honey and garlic. (OK, now I'm getting hungry!)

If you're like many of us, you've probably thought seriously about making your own food for your animals. And I'm sure some of you do. But for many of us it's rocket science, trying to figure out portions of this, servings of that, what vitamins to add, etc. And if you're out in the boonies, it's often impossible to get hormone-free anything.

So, if you're interested in good nutrition for your companion and are looking to try something new, please check out The Honest Kitchen. They even offer trial sizes, so you can be sure your best buddy will like it before you place a large order. Take a look around their site – they have an interesting history and believe in giving back to the community. Especially interesting is "A Day in The Honest Kitchen" and "Who We Are". Oh, and yes, they do also have a product for cats too. And, of course, they carry treats and other goodies. So, if you're looking for a quality, high-grade alternative to the food you now feed, please check out The Honest Kitchen!



Pictured are: Luke fixing The Honest Kitchen for Hudson and Murphy, and Hudson showing how delightfully happy his tummy is after his Honest Kitchen dinner!

"Keen" photo is copyrighted by The Honest Kitchen.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Home for Buddy

[For the video on Buddy, please visit YouTube.] Ginger of 2Dogs2000Miles.org tells us a bit about Buddy: Buddy came to the Memphis Humane Society right after Katrina hit New Orleans. He was heart worm positive. For a while he had a foster home who kept him through the heart worm treatment, but they couldn't adopt him. He then was adopted and stayed with that family for several months. However, they had to return him to us because their living situation changed. He was with us at the Humane Society for a couple more months and then adopted out to a lady with two small children. Buddy lost his balance one day and knocked the younger little girl over and she was afraid of him after that so he was returned again. In between all the returns to the Humane Society we all fell in love with him, so he became my office dog.

Last November, I started bringing him home with me at night because he would stand at the front door of the HS and watch me as I drove off. I hated seeing his face at the door so he joined my "pack" at home.

He is terribly afraid of storms. I guess it's because of Katrina. I have to either get on the floor with him and hold him or we get in the bed together and I hold him until the storm is over.

We are not sure how Buddy lost his foot. A vet told me that it looked like Buddy had gotten it stuck in something and chewed it off as there are no surgery scars. As you can tell from the video he doesn't let it keep a big dog down! However, I do have to pick him up to get in the bed, unless of course there is a storm -- then he will jump on the bed with me!


At last, Buddy has his forever home, and now is an official member of the 2Dogs family. Welcome home, Buddy! You have that true Puppy Up! spirit.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

“Excuse me, Sir. Are you homeless?”

This was only the start of the questions Luke and the Boys got the other night while they were resting along the side of the road on their way to Mousetail Landing Park. Apparently two college girls had a sociology assignment, and part of that assignment was to find homeless people and talk to them. Seeing Luke and the Boys was all the excuse they needed to pull their little Geo Metro over to the shoulder, get out, and offer him some candy. Huh? Candy? Yup. Poor Luke apparently looked like he could use a handout so they offered him some candy. (I guess they didn’t have any dog cookies on hand for the Boys.)

After he finally convinced them he was not in fact homeless and did not need their candy, but thank you very much, Luke patiently explained that he was on a walk from Austin to Boston to spread awareness about canine cancer. Oooooh! Gee, Mister! He talked with the girls, explaining to them about the walk, the cause, the Boys. And he was doing a fine job too until yet another car pulled up alongside the group. This guy was not so pleasant and wanted to know: “Hey, this guy botherin’ you?” Yes, machismo is alive and well, if not just a little misdirected, here in the Volunteer State. I guess this guy was volunteering to rescue the Metro-damsels from the funny man with the two big white dogs. Or maybe HE wanted some candy. So, once again, Luke had to explain the mission and convince the guy that he, Hudson, and Murphy were not a danger to society or the state of Tennessee. What a night!

OK, there’s more. No, really! Luke and the Boys stopped again some time later to catch their breaths and once again settled down just off the road. In the meantime, some other well-meaning Volunteer State good person called the police convinced there “was some dead guy on the side of the road.” (Get ready for this, Luke. Tennessee is full of well-meaning volunteers!) The cops showed up, discovered he was in fact NOT dead, and wanted to know what he was doing. (I guess the days of being left peacefully alone to pursue your own interests are long gone. Good thing there were no Metro-girls with candy or macho-macho men or well-meaning police during the days of the Pioneers or the settlers would still be making their way out of Jersey.) Luke finally convinced the cops he, Hudson, and Murphy were neither dead nor a danger to society or the state of Tennessee. What a day!

Despite all the delays, Luke and the Boys did make it to Mousetail Landing State Park where they settled down for the night. They headed out again on Highway 100 this morning, and are going to try for about 5 to 6 hours of walking, then find a place to camp as we’re expecting rain and storms for the next two days.

Luke did say he’d been taking some great videos of the area (and the area around Mousetail is quite beautiful with its tree-covered hills, beautiful river, and valleys of dense fog). And of course the Boys love the cooler weather. Luke calls it their “frisky weather.”

So, there you have it. Luke and the Boys, deep in the heart of The Volunteer State.

More soon. Until then, Puppy Up!
Erich & His 4 Pack

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Hoody for Hudson

Hudson is modeling the sweater he got from a friend in Texas who lovingly knitted it to protect him from the colder weather he, Murphy, and Luke will be encountering soon on the road. Notice it even has an attached Tuque! Luke writes: “It's a smart looking sweater that he can wear underneath his pack and he'll need it. Unlike Murphy, he doesn't have the thick undercoat to keep him warm. I considered for a brief time shaving my back hair and having it woven but this'll look much nicer, dontcha think?”

Yeah, Luke – much nicer!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Conversation with Wagatha's Norman Levitz

I had the opportunity the other day to speak with Mr. Norman Levitz, one of the founders of Wagatha’s organic dog treats . We’re very pleased that Wagatha’s is one of 2Dogs’ sponsors.

Our conversation began when I asked him how he learned about 2Dogs2000miles and Hudson, Murphy, and Luke.

I came to know of Luke’s efforts from a mutual friend, Tracie Hotchner. Tracie actually lives a few miles from us down in Bennington (Vermont). She told me about Luke’s efforts and I thought it was just a fabulous idea. I just thought it was great. I’m totally supportive of what he’s doing. There needs to be more of this kind of a thing going on.

I noticed on your web page that an important part of your philosophy is to give back to the community. One of the things that Luke has told me is that for every shelter that he visits, you send them 10 pounds of Wagatha’s Treats.

That’s correct. … The products that we make are 100% organic, we manufacture everything right here in Vermont. Most of our ingredients are domestic and the ones that aren’t are either from Central America or Europe. Everything we do is human quality. We want our best friends to have the best.

You’re the developer of the biscuits yourself?

Yes, my wife and I started making these biscuits about 30 years ago when we were in college, so there’s quite a lot of history behind them.

Can you give us a little bit of the history? Why did you start making dog biscuits?

Well, here’s the thing. Like I said, about 30 years ago my wife and I started making these biscuits in college because we had a lot of friends and family who had dogs and … you know, on a college budget, there’s not a whole lot you can do at holiday time. So we decided to try making dog biscuits. The dogs loved them and it became an annual tradition for us. About 15 years ago we had a bakery in Rhode Island and we started making these biscuits at the bakery just as an aside. We sold a lot of them. I always wanted to do this as a business but the timing just was never right. Then I finally got together with my present business partner [Neil Reilly] who thought this was a fantastic idea and here we are, 2 years later.

So you got started in 2006?

2006, yes that’s right.

Right from the beginning we wanted to be 100% certified organic and we do not do anything that does not fit that profile. We’re also kosher. We didn’t want anyone to have any barriers to why they couldn’t bring Wagatha’s into their lives.

As a professional chef and as a culinary educator, you obviously understand the issues of good nutrition. Do you see a connection between nutrition and the higher incidence of cancer in animals?

Yes, I do. I see it in people too. You are what you eat and your body can only fight off and deal with so many chemicals and artificial ingredients and things of that nature before it begins to rebel. Even more of a reason for us to be completely organic … every ingredient in our treats is there for a reason. Most of the treats are very high in antioxidant properties to help fight cellular damage.

What drew you personally to the issue of nutrition in dogs in particular?

I think it was a number of things. One of the things is, as a culinary educator, nutrition was a big part of what I had to learn and teach to my students. So, to me that really made a lot of sense. And then, the more I researched commercially available pet products and pet foods, it was horrific what I found. I knew if I was going to get involved in this business that everything we did had to be nutritionally sound because I didn’t want to be part of the problem. I wanted to be part of the solution.

I understand that Hudson and Murphy especially like the Tuscan Tomato and Herb Biscuits. Do you know what your best selling product is?

The best seller is our Breakfast Biscuit. In the South we found that the Tuscan Tomato and Herb is the number one seller. In the North it seems to be that the Cranberry and the Breakfast go neck and neck, and on the West Coast is seems the Breakfast is number one. I think it just depends on people’s life style, eating habits … we haven’t found a dog who wasn’t partial to these biscuits!

In the years ahead, do you see your company expanding into dry food, because there’s certainly a need for that?

We are actually doing research into that – whether it’s going to be dry, wet, or raw or some combination of the three we’re not sure yet, but we’re really working hard to find the right direction to go; but no, we’re not going to be just a treat company. We are looking to extend our philosophy beyond the treats.

Do you see yourself moving into less of the canine boutique or on-line ordering and maybe getting out there to mainstream your product?

We’ve really built our business so far on supporting the independent retailer. Once you cross the bridge into the mass market there are a lot of problems that go with that and we really want to maintain the integrity of our brand. So, independent is where we’re staying. But our treats are all available on our web site, you can purchase on-line, and shipping is very reasonable – over $50.00 shipping is free. And we ship almost immediately – we usually ship that day or the next day FedEx ground.

Do you see your company, even as new as it is, leading the way to a new philosophy of thinking about feeding animals?

I think we understand the difference between right and wrong and understand what the health requirements are for animals and I think that we are just reflecting changes in the way people are starting to look at animal nutrition. We’re supporting that in everything we do. We try to get that message out to everyone we interact with -- that by feeding Wagatha’s they’re feeding their dogs the best available products that they can find. We put a lot of research and time into our biscuits and stand behind what we do.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about Wagatha’s and your interest in 2 Dogs?

I think that what 2 Dogs is doing is fantastic and I think raising awareness about canine cancer is really important. I think that grass-roots efforts will raise the awareness of people’s choices when they go into the store and buy what they buy. It seems that every month there’s another food recall, whether it’s pet or people … and why take that chance? For the majority of people, their pets are the center of their lives -- why subject your best friend, your family member to something you don’t have to subject them to? There are choices. And they’re not necessarily any more expensive.

Mr. Levitz, thanks for speaking with us. And special thanks for donating to the shelters Luke goes to.

It’s my pleasure. We live in a world where we all really have to help each other out … reaching out to our neighbors and friends is really what we have to do.

Wagatha's name and logo are the copyrighted property of Wagatha's. Their logo is used with permission.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Parrot Heads Part I

Some of you may remember back in Texas we met a feller named Jackie Bryant, the founding member of the North East Texas Parrothead Club, one of many around the country. Is that like the Order of the Bleating Sheep you ask? Your guess was as good as mine.

As I was soon to learn, Parrotheads are Jimmy Buffet fans but to say they're just that is hugely limiting. Their slogan is "Party with a Purpose" and man do they deliver on both promises. These guys are always finding ways to help organizations and have fun during the process and giving to charitable causes is a requirement. You can't even start a chapter without making that commitment. According to Wikipedia, they collectively raised $2.2 million for charities in 2005 and devoted thousands of volunteer hours, too.

Jackie connected us to the Memphis Club and outside of the animal lover world, I couldn't imagine meeting a more giving and good-hearted group of people. Mark and Brandy, one of the families we stayed with there were the most gracious of hosts. They introduced us to Karen (their President) and her husband, Russell. More to come on this cast of characters and some of the cool stories of our time together while in Memphis...

Even though they don't have a Parrothead Club for the Homeless, I consider myself a lifelong member and can't wait to meet more of them along our travels.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Haven't Received Your Wristband?

It has recently come to my attention that several people who have purchased our puppy up! cause bracelets have not received them. First of all, please accept my deepest apologies.

As you know, we rely completely on volunteers for the walk. While they've done an outstanding job and I am eternally grateful for the countless hours they've committed to the cause, we are in the process of resolving the problem and taking steps to ensure it won't happen again.

We'll be contacting everyone who has ordered the bracelets to make sure they've received them but you can contact me personally at feedback@2dogs2000miles.org in the interim should you have questions or concerns. I setup that email address so that I am always available and accountable for any problems that arise. Thank you for your patience and understanding. YBD

Memorial Shirt #3

The list has been posted to our website - please check for inclusion and accuracy! There are almost 140 names now on our shirt and I'm truly humbled and honored to have each and every one of them walk with us in spirit.

There have been challenges, some of which I'll never share with you guys, that I might not have been able to overcome if it wasn't for the names on my shirt. Thank you!

Please contact us at memorialshirt@2dogs2000miles.org for omissions or mispellings. YBD

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Our First Calendar!

2 Dogs 2000 Miles is pleased and excited to announce our first Canine Cancer Calendar. We hope YOU will be part of the process. Here's how --

PLEASE NOTE: The date for submissions has been extended to November 16th. Also, the size of the digital photo has been changed. Just submit the original digital photo to calendar@2d0gs2000miles.org and our web master will work his magic and adjust the size accordingly! No need to crop, re-size, fold, spindle, or mutilate the photo -- just send it as it comes mysteriously out of your camera! We'll do the rest!

If you (or someone you know) has had or currently has a dog with cancer, you are invited to submit your dog's photo and brief story to 2 Dogs. We ask you to please limit your submission to one digital picture per dog, and limit your story to 1 to 2 paragraphs per dog. So, if you currently have or have had a dog with cancer, here is your opportunity to honor him or her in the calendar. If you have had more than one dog with cancer, yes, you may definitely submit EACH dog's photo and brief story. Please submit your dog's photo and story to: calendar@2dogs2000miles.org. And, of course, give us not only your dog's name, but your name and contact email as well.

When does this start? Right now. The deadline for photo and story submission is November 16th at midnight EST (please note that the date has changed) , which gives you plenty of time to get those photos and stories submitted. You will receive an email notification of receipt of your photo and story. All photos will be available for viewing and voting on at our web site after the November 16th deadline.

How will we decide which dog represents each month? Well, here's where you come in again. EVERYONE gets to decide -- whether or not you've had a dog with cancer. Everyone gets to vote, so please pass the word to friends, family, and co-workers.

Here's how voting will work. Starting on November 2nd, after the last canine cancer patient's photo and story have been submitted and all photos are up on our web site, voting begins. With a small donation of $1.00 per vote, everyone gets to vote for his or her favorite dog(s). For example, if you want to vote 10 times for your best friend Speckles, you would donate $10.00 for Speckles and he would then get 10 votes. Or you can split your votes. If you like several dogs, you would donate X number of dollars for each dog you like and each dog would get that number of votes. Even better -- you can vote as many times as you want. This means you can vote multiple times for one dog, or one time for many dogs, or any variation thereof, and come back throughout the voting period to keep your pick in the running by casting more $1.00 votes. Voting will be open until the deadline. It's really very simple: $1.00 per vote and you can vote as many times as you want for as many dogs as you want. Voting will continue on our web site through December 1st. All money benefits 2 Dogs and the walk to increase awareness of canine cancer and the urgency to find the cause.

Now here's the other great news. No dog loses! While there will be only 12 dogs on the main calendar, each dog not chosen will still have his or her photo published in the back of the calendar. Every dog's photo submitted for the calendar will be published.

When will the calendars be ready? Calendars will be ready to purchase before the new year. These will make excellent gifts. Cost: $15.95 each.

OK, here's a summary:

(1) Submit one photo and one story (1 to 2 paragraphs) per canine cancer patient – submission of photos and stories is FREE and should be sent to: calendar@2dogs2000miles.org.

(2) You are not limited to your submissions. If you have sadly had more than one dog stricken with cancer, you may submit each dog's photo and story. Photos may be of dogs who have passed or dogs who are still here fighting their cancer!

(3) Please be sure to submit a story with your photo. 1 to 2 paragraph limit, please. Don't forget to include your name and contact email. You will be notified when we receive your photo and story.

(4) Submissions begin immediately and continue through November 15th, ending at midnight EST.

(5) Photos of all dogs will be posted on our web site after November 16th, and voting begins at our web site 2 weeks after the last submission and continues through December 1st. Deadline for voting is December 1st, again at midnight EST.

(6) Each $1.00 donation = 1 vote. You may vote (and thus donate) multiple times! Please do! Please invite family and friends to vote as well! Votes will be cast at our website beginning November 2nd.

(7) Calendars will be available for the new year and cost only $15.95. These will make excellent gifts! Remember, each calendar will spread the important news about canine cancer, so please consider giving them as gifts to vet clinics, colleagues, groomers, your own favorite vet, as well as family and friends.

(8) ALL photos will be published in the calendar. While only twelve dogs will be chosen to represent the 12 months of the year, based on the number of $1.00 votes each dog receives, EVERY photo submitted will be published in the calendar. Pictures not included in the body of the calendar will be published in the back pages, so every dog's picture will appear.

This calendar will not only help get the word out about the seriousness and prevalence of canine cancer, but will also be a lasting tribute to those beautiful dogs who struggled with and are still struggling against this disease.

We hope you will be part of this effort. Send in your photos and stories, please pass the word to family and friends, and then, come November 2nd, vote, vote, vote for your favorite dogs!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

HONORING THE ANIMALS CANDLELIGHT VIGIL -- SPECIAL GUESTS LUKE, HUDSON, AND MURPHY

And if I go, while you are still here... know that I still live on, vibrating to a different measure, behind a thin veil that you cannot see through. You will not see me, so you must have faith. I will wait there for the time when we can soar together again, both aware of each other. Until then, live your life to the fullest. And when you need me, just whisper my name in your heart ... I will be there.

This weekend, Luke, Hudson, and Murphy are pleased to appear as special guests at the Second Annual Honoring the Animals Candlelight Vigil at Brown-Forman Amphitheater in Louisville, Kentucky on Sunday, September 14, 2008, sponsored by Chance's Spot, Pet Loss and Support Resources, and will discuss 2Dogs2000Miles, their walk from Austin to Boston, our mission of spreading awareness of canine cancer, and our goal to find the causes.

The memorial service for the animals will be held outdoors at Brown-Forman Amphitheater located on River Road east of Tumbleweed. It will include musical selections and poetry-reading, as well as a moment of silence as candles are lit in memory of beloved animal friends. This event is free and will take place rain or shine. Those in attendance will be able to have their pet's name read out loud.

From their web site, Chance’s Spot writes: “The event will take place on National Pet Memorial Day. For a donation of $10.00 visitors can have their pet's name published in this year's official program. Programs will be reserved for those who can to attend and mailed to those who cannot."

For further details on the service, including driving directions and parking, please visit the Honoring the Animals Web site at: www.honoringtheanimals.org.

About Chance’s Spot: “Chance's Spot was created in the fall of 1998 as a personal tribute to a beloved English Setter, Chance. In February of 1998 Chance was diagnosed with lymphosarcoma and on June 28 he died. The Web site has grown over the years and is now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that assists grieving pet owners.”

“At Chance's Spot, we believe that pets are important and engaging members of the family whose loss results in the same grieving process as would losing anyone close to us. We understand that the feelings generated when a pet dies are real and deserve the same respect as if it were any other family member. Our mission is to advance this notion to the general public and to support an increase in the respect and reverence that is given to the topic of pet loss. Through education, support and information, Chance's Spot assists the public in understanding that the grief suffered when a dearly loved pet is lost is a heartfelt example of how genuine the human - animal bond can be.”

“Chance's Spot provides an online support group, publications on pet loss, hotline numbers, referrals and an online tributes page where pet caregivers can post tributes to their departed pets. Locally, Chance's Spot provides educational presentations on the topic of pet loss o pet caregivers, pet care professionals and rescue and shelter workers. Area shelters, veterinarians and rescue groups also receive support and information about compassion fatigue - the stress resulting from caring for and helping traumatized animals on a daily basis."

“Our yearly fundraisers help educate and support pet caregivers to understand the grief associated with losing a pet. It is our intention for Chance's Spot to be the first and only organization in the country to provide a memorial garden, pet loss education center and trained staff available to veterinarians and their patients."

"Chance's Spot is founded by Gail Heller. Ms. Heller was Chance's caregiver for fourteen years. She has had several canine companions in addition to Chance and currently resides in Indiana with Moses, her pointer mix and Mazie, her Basenji mix."

"Ms. Heller has bred, trained and shown dogs and has worked as an animal control warden where she implemented a Responsible Dog Ownership Basic Training Program. She has also worked as a veterinary technician where she assisted in the care and treatment of sick pets. Her work at Chance's Spot has been featured in the Louisville Courier-Journal Newspaper."

(All quotes, pictures, and illustrations are the copyrighted property of "Chance's Spot" and are reprinted here under Fair Use, Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

III Down in the Delta

It's amazing what you can do when you dig down deep enough inside of yourself. The Arkansas Delta was the most physically challenging leg I've faced thus far. A hundred plus miles of mostly shadeless, shoulderless low lying farmland starting east of Little Rock on Highway 70. Punishing heat in triple digits with humidity hovering around 100%. At night, mosquitoes the size of swallows from all of the fish ponds and rice fields.

If you can lose all that - even briefly - you can appreciate the rich ecosystem that thrives there. Yeah, the mosquitoes are brutal and unrelenting. After four coats of spray I found myself still under constant attack. It was like they were systematically testing my defenses.

But if it wasn't for the abundant mosquito population there you wouldn't find one of the most brilliant array of dragonflies I've ever seen. Like an impressionist painting, some checkered in black in white, others in irridescent greens, yellows, and blues. And feeding off of them are red winged blackbirds, great blue herons, and other egrets indigenous to the area. Simply spectacular the diverse palette of life found in the Delta.

Including people. I was just outside Hazen searching for shade when I saw a sign for Murry's Restaurant. At last - A/C and some ice cold water but when I tried to enter the doors were locked. Open 5pm it said. It wasn't much past noon so I sat on a bench outside, opened my pack, and started snacking on my trailmix. Moments later, a man appeared, shirtless yet wearing an apron. He, too, must've been feeling the effects of the heatwave.

I asked for his permission to rest and repast on his patio. He invited me in and over a glass of sweet tea, offered to make me lunch. That's Stan on the left and he's the chef and proprietor. Should your travels ever take you to Hazen, stop by Murry's. Stan's food is second only to his life stories so make sure you ask him how he became a cook. And try his bread pudding.

It was my last luxury in Arkansas. I went to church that Sunday then walked for the next 24 hours, rested a day, then got back on the road and completed a 60 mile stretch in two days of walking through Crowley's Ridge and almost to West Memphis. One of the most fascinating sights was between Forrest City and Madison, which seemed entirely draped in Kudzu, a highly invasive Southern vine.

If you recall, my last best personal two day record was 41 miles. The Arkansas Delta was too dangerous to walk with the boys but being without them kept me highly motivated. And the heat index encouraged me to keep moving at night. But I couldn't have accomplished it without our host family in Lonoke AR, Larry and Linda. That's him on the left with his two Irish Wolfhounds, Twister and Kermit. We met them through their daughter, Ashley, whose husband, Trey, is over in Iraq. Thanks guys for transporting and providing support to us.

II The Spirit of Malcolm

After noshing at a C-Store grill in Glen Rose, I asked the cashier where I could find a safe place to pitch a tent for the night. Moments of uncomfortable silence followed. Like an RV Park I assured her. There was one a few miles down 67 she said. The sun was setting but if I scooted some serious boot, I could make it. And boy am I glad I did.

JB's RV Park was an unremarkable but welcome sight after being on the road all day and worth the $10 for a tent site. I had just slipped the cash in an envelope under the office door when a man and a boy emerged from a nearby trailer and greeted me. We exchanged pleasantries and I explained I had walked from Austin but being exhausted, left it at that. The boy wished me luck on my journey.

A secluded spot near a bayou beckoned me. I barely had enough energy to make camp and only minutes after I had done so, a truck drove up. What now? The passenger door opened and the boy appeared carrying a plate of food.

As I thanked him and turned towards the tent I saw a dog a stone's throw away staring at me. I must have been too tired to notice the goat pen on the way in but there across from me was a Great Pyrenees puppy. Six, maybe eight months old and covered in mud, he took to me like we were old friends and when I said goodnight to eat my dinner, he jumped into the swamp and swam around the fence line to my side.

Upon seeing this, an elderly man headed him off and after a gentle chiding, returned the Pyr to the pen. And I to my tent but he never left his spot across from me.

Perhaps from exhaustion, the selfless act of generosity a boy showed a stranger, or the spirit of Malcolm I sensed watching over me, I wept. They were tears not of sadness but awe and humility for how could I be blessed by a magical night like this?

And the following morning, I found that puppy exactly in the same spot... He never left my side...