Tuesday, November 23, 2010

44 Stones

There's a difference in life between a path and a way.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Half an hour before arriving at Fossil Creek Park in Fort Collins to lead the first of the 2 Million Dog March puppy up walks, gale force winds descended down from the Rocky Mountains at times gusting up to 50mph by my guestimate.

As Hudson, Murphy & I walked up to the pavillion I had already decided to scrap the speech I had prepared opting instead to literally go where the winds took us. The violent gusts drowned out the amplifiers making it hard to even hear myself speak but I'll try as best I can to sum up its essence.

To me, the winds were a sign. Now I know that's partly my romantic interpretation of things but what an appropriate metaphor on an awfully important day.

Growing up in farming country you learn there are only two types of wind - helpin & a'hurtin. It's easy in life to curse the head & crosswinds, but say a prayer of thanks for the tailwind. I myself did that upon occasion on our cross country walk. But the surest timber stands tall and true in the greatest of adversities and those are the people of 2 Million Dogs.

You launched 12 walks in 9 states with only two months of tarmac to plan and prepare these events and the response was nothing short of spectacular. Ginger will post the results here soon but the flags we planted Sunday November 7th 2010 send a strong message about our resolve and the strength of our community of cancer families and supporters & sponsors.

For me personally, what made me most proud was the news coverage and stories - listening and watching the people that hosted us on our travels being on the radio or TV for the first time in their lives... that was so cool. Signe & Patty who held fast the Purple People Bridge in OH; Brock Ketterman a handsome young fell'r and friend of the fuzzybutts in Pittsburgh who now has a day named after him for being the Marshall of the event there; Robin & Kerry who walked twice Sunday - in Poughkeepsie and in New Milford CT alongside one of our best friends, Chief; Our friends at Fetch a Cure in Richmond, and our new friends in Washington State and Colorado who you'll hear more about in the coming months.

I wanna thank Ginger Morgan, the Chief Puppy Officer of 2 Million Dogs, and our Board of Directors for continuing the vision I set forth March 2008 and their commitment to eradicating cancer in both pets and people. And thanks to all of the city leaders, their volunteers and participants, & everyone else involved.

What a great thing we started together and while we're no oak trees yet we're definitely a bunch of nuts blown all over this land standing our ground.

puppy up! y'all

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Malcolm

Malcolm would've been 13 Sunday. I didn't realize it until now that his birthday comes on the eve of Pet Cancer Awareness Month.

A year or two ago I might have said that was curiously coincidental but I've witnessed way too much in my travels and I know otherwise now.

Last night I was fortunate enough to listen to Dr. Steve Withrow's talk about his lifelong work in comparative oncology. The title of his presentation tells all, "Some Science. Some Stories. Some True." It was both enlightening and invigorating, and I hope everyone of you has the opportunity to hear him speak some day.

One of the most interesting points he made was that despite breakthroughs in understanding and technological developments, "The dumbest cancer cell is smarter than all of us." My father, a nephrologist, used to talk to me at length when I was young about the amazing complexity of the human body and the intricacies of its individual yet interconnected systems. A few months back in a blog about Murphy I described cancer as nature's perfect enemy. It uses that complexity against its victims.

Dr. Withrow also talked about his efforts in convincing the National Institute of Health of the importance of studying cancer in companion pets. In his words, "NIH never questioned the science but the relevance and the ability to extrapolate it into humans." As a consequence, comparative oncology or translational studies are not even a rounding error in the billions of dollars spent on cancer research in the U.S. every year.

Public perception is still another problem and one I can speak about personally. While on our cross country walk I was invited to a number of human cancer rallies and at every one, I was introduced as the 'Dog Cancer Guy' or on a few occasions the 'Dog Cancer Boy' which made me sound a little like a circus act. Don't get me wrong I was grateful for every opportunity we had on the road to share our story but most of my time at those events was spent on, "Yes, dogs get breast cancer, too, and by working together we may find a common link or a key."

It's important this month, Pet Cancer Awareness Month, to keep in mind exactly what we're up against; the greatest epidemic facing companion pets, limited government funding for research, and even public perception.

That's why participating in the 2 Million Dog March this November 7th is so imperative. We've got to send a message to the media that this isn't just an "Aww, puppies" story and to the general public that the only way to eradicate cancer in both pets and people is through partnership.

We're not going to get 2 million dogs to walk in the 12 cities this year or any where close to that but it's the start. You know when Malcolm's cancer spread to his lungs he had hard days and when he struggled, I whispered to him, "We don't give up, we don't give in until the end, my friend." That's where 'puppy up' came from...

I miss you Malcolm. Happy birthday & puppy up!

To participate in a puppy up walk near you, go to http://2milliondogs.org/walks