Thursday, December 27, 2012

Winter in the White Mountains

Once the Summer of Murphy Tour reached its conclusion we knew we had to have a stable quiet environment to edit the hundreds of hours of footage and terabytes of data into a documentary.  

And it just so happened we had some friends in one of the Easternmost reaches of the Appalachian Mountains in New Hampshire, Larry and Donna and their two kids, Grettie (a Westie) and Sophie (a Pyr).  


We've set up shop here for the winter months since it typically takes a project of this magnitude four months of editing at a bare minimum. 


And while we've only been up here a few weeks, it hasn't been 'All Work, No Play', the snow has been falling and some kinda fierce today.  Nearby is a pic of the snowball fight with me and Indiana which would've been fair if he minded snowballs in the face.  

Lil Nana thinks I was lobbing love grenades at him, god bless em.  

Hudson's having a ton of fun up here, too, and it's earned him a new moniker.  But that's another story for another time.

Hope the Holidays find you and yours well...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pet Sitters

Tonite we're leaving the boys behind for a quick day trip into the city and I've had to find a pet sitter to walk them while I'm away.  

Even though I vetted the sitter thoroughly I'm still somewhat queasy with the notion of leaving the fabulous fuzzybutts with someone else if only for a brief time.  There are only a handful of people in whose care I entrust them.  

One of the projects I'm working on is sorting and organizing all of the thousands of photos, notes, and writings since Malcolm came into my life in trying to make tell this whole story and it just so happened I came across a Word document I wrote up in 2003 for my pet sitter in Boston.  Re-reading it for the first time in some ten odd years later made me laugh and cry and it kinda scared the hell outta me.  

But it's also helped me understand my own evolution a little better.  Here were my instructions to her.  
_____________________


PET SITTER CHECKLIST & TASK SHEET

Taking them Outside

§  Enter from the backdoor
§  Pet Malcolm & Murphy & get them to settle down
§  Take Malcolm outside first.  Use the green leash
§  Before you take Malcolm out, get Murphy to lie down far away from the door (like in middle of living room) so he won’t try to run out of the door.  If need be, take the newspaper off the entertainment center & slap it on your hand firmly until he lies down.
§  CHANGE – USE GATE TO BLOCK OFF FRONT DOOR AREA & PUT UP RED BOX IN HALLWAY.
§  I’ll show you where Malcolm does his business (Both of them should only have to urinate so take back inside when they’re finished).
§  Once inside, get Malcolm to lie down
§  Get Murphy’s leader (the wider one – it’s adjusted to fit him perfectly.  Remember, it fits snuggly behind his ears) from the basket on top of the entertainment center & put on.  Attach leash to leader. 
§  I’ll show you where Murphy does his business

Checklist

§  Once finished taking them outside, check their water bowl.  It should be ¾ full.  If need be, rinse it out & fill.
§  While in kitchen, get 1 dog biscuit for each (Science Diet on countertop)
§  When feeding them, get them both to sit first.  Make sure the treats are swallowed & cleared.
§  Do a physical exam of dogs (spot check & rub them for any pain, etc.)
§  Check temperature of room.  Ideally, it should be around 75 but should NOT exceed 80.  If so, check the wall A/C in the living room.  CALL ME if it’s running at maximum but the temp’s over 80.
§  Check the room for anything left out that dogs can get into, such as glasses, hair items, pens, papers, etc.  If so, put them in the basket on the entertainment center. 
§  TV should be on with volume around 25
§  Make sure the shutters are drawn on window
§  Make sure there are no toys out in living room
§  Make sure front door of the house is unlocked but secure.
§  If you lower the gate, make sure it’s put up again @ correct height.
§  A copy of this checklist will be on kitchen countertop
§  Sign & date daily log also on countertop
§  Exit through the back of house & lock back door.
§  LAST THING – CALL ME ON MY CELL ONCE YOU’VE LEFT

___________________________


Postscripts.  My pet sitter in Boston, my first, was a true gem and I was fortunate to find her, and more importantly, that she tolerated me. 

Recently, on the Summer of Murphy Tour, I gave a presentation at the Pet Sitters International Conference in Austin and it was great to spend time with so many passionate pet sitters who have to put up with the likes of people like me.  Here's to all of you!   

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Scentsy Fundraiser for 2 Million Dogs



Out of all of those nights the boys and I slept in a tent, I've had my fair share of wet, stinky fuzzybutt smell.  And maybe I had a mighty good stink on myself a time or two.  

A few months back a dear friend of ours from Bowling Green and dog rescue coordinator, Deana Wehr, turned me on to Scentsy candles and this holiday season, she is donating a percentage of sales to 2 Million Dogs.  

Click on the nearby pic of Pooki bear or here to purchase some of these clever candles and they don't burn with a traditional flame so there's no risk of setting the house on fire.  The fundraiser is from today until December 18th, the last day to place an order and receive it by Christmas day.  

Thank a ton Deana and Happy Holidays to all our friends in the City of White Squirrels!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Raising Indiana: EPI

Pretty much since I first adopted the FLP (Funny Looking Pyrenees) it's been impossible to put weight on him.  Plus he's been like a stomach on four legs with an insatiable appetite and he resource guards food like Louis CK takes to Cinnabons.  

Now we think we know why.  

Back in Cincinnati I had Dr. Carey at the Care Center take a look at him and after I gave a thorough history, he suggested Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency or EPI as a diagnostic theory.  His bloodwork got screwed up so we decided to start him on pancreatic supplements to test the theory and in less than a month, lil Nanna has put on 7 pounds.  

Hudson and Indiana are with Mommy G in Memphis for the next month while Tish and I are finishing up filming for the documentary but now that the Tour is over, I'm trying to learn as much about the disorder as possible.  

But what I know of it so far is it's nutritionally manageable with pancreatic enzyme supplements and, thank god, it shouldn't limit his longevity at all or prevent him from having a happy, normal, baby Moose life.

It's only been a few days but I miss Moosey and when I see him in December, I'm gonna buy him a Cinnabon.  

Friday, November 2, 2012

2 Million Dogs Funds Bone Cancer Study

Bone cancer is a curious thing.  Fairly rare in humans.   Fairly common in large breed dogs.  And even though we share no evolutionary link with our canine counterparts, it looks the same, spreads the same so what's up? 

I wasn't able to discover any answers before I lost Malcolm to this aggressive form of cancer back in 2006 and walking across 16 states to find out why didn't give me any greater insights.  

So I'm pleased to announce that 2 Million Dogs is donating $20,000 to Broad Institute for an osteosarcoma study.  I'm sure many of you, like myself, have never heard of Broad before and I highly recommend that you learn more about them.   

They're a collaboration between MIT, Harvard, Mass Gen, and Dana Farber, and they're also the folks behind mapping the canine genome. I've toured their facilities in Cambridge and let me tell you, it's state of the art.   Broad is a game changer in genomics research and comparative biology and this is what appeals to me most as what we are trying to accomplish at 2 Million Dogs has never been done before.  

I could not be more pleased with funding a study there and I want to thank the Board of 2 Million Dogs and our fearless leader, Ginger Morgan.  We set the bar high this year and 2013 is going to be even bigger.  And a shout out to all of the city organizers and sponsors, also fearless leaders, who make this all possible.  

"There's nothing like a dream to create the future" Victor Hugo

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Malcolm I Still Ask Why


Three promises I made
Before the needle stuck your vein

Years and years passed
Miles and miles steadfast

All the streets
And silver sheets

Malcolm, I still ask why

--------------

Happy Birthday.  This poem was inspired by Ozzy's 'Mama I'm Coming Home'

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Shop at our New Puppy Up! Store

Fall is fully underway and 2 Million Dogs has a new Puppy Up! Store for your shopping pleasures.  

Here you'll find cold weather apparel, bandanas for the fur babies, custom made jewelry, and a whole host of other accessories like this awesome 2 Million Dogs decal (pictured nearby and hey, this is the first time I've seen this and it's frikkin awesome.  Thanks Toki Poki!).  

You can also pre-order the Cancer Can't Keep a Good Dog Down Calendar there but I'll post a separate blog about that because it's a beautiful homage.  

Get your Shopping On!

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Homeless Chef: Rustic Rosemary Roast Stew

I've only been in the kitchen a couple of times during the Summer of Murphy tour and it was time fer me to get back in there and make a sammich damnit!  

Except it was chilly in Connecticut at Dawn's house and I was in the mood for a hearty, savory, rustic stew.  Here's what I worked up:

Fry a half pound of bacon, remove, then add a stick of butter to the grease to sear the pork roast on all four sides.  reduce heat and saute garlic and onions in the pan with the roast.  

Fill the pan up with beef stock and bring to a boil.  I would've made my own if I had time but I used Swansons a base and built the stock up from there by adding maple sugar, Sriracha, red wine, and a few other savory seasonings like cumin and cayenne pepper.  Remember, when it comes to sauces it's all about sweet and heat.  

Next, add fresh rosemary and lemon thyme sprigs to the broth and simmer for a couple of hours depending on how many pounds the pork roast is packin.  About an hour out from serving time, add mushrooms, carrots, and fingerling potatoes to add to the heartiness of the stew.  

I'm always trying to build up layers of flavors you can saute the mushrooms in wine and butter first and I also recommend roasting the potatoes and garlic, too.  Just didn't have the time for that.  

I think next time I make this I'm going to use roasted autumn veggies like butternut squash and brussel sprouts for the stew... Until then... Puppy Up and Chow Down!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hand on Balls

Some of you know I have a thing about heights and it's been put to the test countless times on our travels - bridges, gorges canyons, ravines, and even skyscrapers (Top of the Rock when we were in NYC for the Today Show).  But the South Rim took em all.

I won't waste your time with descriptors about the Grand Canyon... no writer should.  Either you've been there or you haven't and neither words nor pictures will do it justice.  It was my first time and an unscheduled detour between Albuquerque and Las Vegas.

Back to my acrophobia.  It's my only fear and by fear I mean holy effin sh*t scared I am of heights.  And it's nothing I can control.  It's a physical and physiological reaction that's non-negotiable and down and outright absolute.

For reasons completely unknown to me, it starts in my private region and radiates outward.  And NOT in a good way.  When I was a boy, I tried to describe it to my father in, well, childlike terminology.  I said, "Dad, my Popo tingles".

Coming in from the Flagstaff side of the Canyon you're kinda caught off guard.  It's a pleasant enough drive with scenic vistas and then it's like you're ten feet from a 2,000 foot drop off and certain death.

But it's strange that the 'Popo Tingling' isn't just limited to me.  Tish was taking photos near the edge and vicariously, I felt the danger in my loins.  But the Murphy Mobile was a safe place for me and it was there I found my 'safe' word or words.

Hand on balls

If you're anxious, just say it and you'll feel better.  Even if you don't even have em.

Hand on balls

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Second Always

My love and admiration for Austin TX couldn't have been better exemplified by an experience I had this morning while looking for a place to breakfast by my hotel.  Yelp wasn't much help so in driving around I came upon a steely shelled structure with a simple, circular sign that said 'Biscuits and Groovy'.

It was seven til open so I sat on a picnic table and and waited trying to figure out what exactly it was.  It has wheels but isn't quite a food truck and has flower planters up front that implies permanency.  

I was first in line as the window rolled up to a slight and genial looking fellow still looking a little sleepy.  After placing my order I scrounged through my pockets only to realize much to my chagrin I left my wallet back at the hotel.  A crinkled fin and one spot was all I could find, not near enough to cover the $12 bill and I turned to go when he said I could pay him whatever I had on me.  

Despite feeling like a huge boob, I took him up on the offer and awaited my Philly Nelson and side of bacon for the fuzzybutts.  Whiling away the time on Fark.com, my favorite productivity wasting pastime, a couple walked up with a stroller and three puppers, one of which seemed to be a beagle mix and a blind one at that (pictured nearby). And if wasn't already cool enough, the guy had on a hound rescue shirt.  

I could talk about Zilker, Travis, and Town Lake, the bats, Hippy Hollow, 6th Street, hiking the Hill Country, Eeyore's birthday party, Blues on the Greens, and even the homeless musicians on the Drag.  But none of those would give you a more simple, perfect sense of Austin's energy than this.  

And although I lived here for almost a decade, a lifetime full and a lifetime ago it feels like, it still and will always remain my second home.  

I don't know where or when home is for me anymore but I know enough now that that isn't up to me.  The path takes us for as long as it takes us.  I often refer to myself as homeless, and it drives some of you nuts, but I do so for purposes no other than simplicity and consistency. 

I felt a kinship with that food stand and when we leave Austin this evening in route to Santa Fe NM, our next tour stop, my thoughts will reflect on this experience.  But I wanted to share it with you before we get back on the road.  

If you have a moment, visit the Biscuits and Groovy website or friend them on Facebook and  thank them for keeping Austin weird.  And, if you're still at the PSI conference, the food there is excellent... stop by if you can...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Savage Mountain Two

On the last day of my holiday, Ginger and I met Marei at the Deal PA Trail head to see the magnificent vista from the highest point on the Great Allegheny Passage - an image forever etched in my mind and a memory with so many, many meanings to me now.  

But the intent I thought was one last grand hike before the start of our non-stop, back-to-back two month tour turned out to be a ruse.  Sort of.  As we were rounding our second mile, it was time to rest and water the fuzzybutts.  The entrance to Savage Tunnel seemed an ideal place for respite but Ginger pointed out a bench under a shade canopy that was closer.  I was some twenty paces ahead of the girls and nearing the spot when I saw some of the engraving... something about dog and a 2 and some zeroes.  

"What the hell?" I was thinking, quickening my pace.  "This is MY trail.. Who... What..."  And then it came into clear sight.  

..."Who did this?  Did you know about this?"  The two tricksters had caught up with me by that time and were giggling like a coupla school girls.  

My shock and surprise was down right and absolute and I couldn't help getting choked up from the gesture.  From the depths, thank you Ginger and Marei for immortalizing our journey at such a special place!  

Postscript

Hudson awaits...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Summer of Murphy Tour Trailer and News

Tomorrow, Hudson & Indiana and I are setting out on an adventurous two month, 25 city, 6,000 mile tour in the Murphy Mobile. Watch the nearby trailer...

 

For tour dates, events, stories, and updates, the website is www.SummerofMurphy.org

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Bud Man Abides

Some say we anthropromophize our dogs because we need to believe they have a soul.  

I say, if you can't see the great spirit inside them, you aren't f*cking looking hard enough.  

My God has blessed me with that ability, to open up to that beautifully complex and unspoken companionship.  

I reflect on it today, the one year anniversary of the passing of one such great soul, Buddy Morgan, Ginger's heart dog.  

I wrote a ballad about him in which I referred to him as 'Bad Beat Buddy' because he never had it easy in life.  Not much was known of him in the early years except that he was from N'awlins LA and a Katrina rescue and that's how he came into Ginger's life.  At the time she was Executive Director of the Memphis and Shelby County Humane Society.  

Buddy was starved and had a half gnarled leg which appeared to have been tangled up in barb wire that he had to chew off to survive.  Buddy also had buckshot in his arse presumably courtesy of a farmer he had made the unfortunate mistake of trespassing on their land.  

His strife didn't end there - once rescued, Buddy was adopted out to several families in Memphis all of whom returned him for various reasons and by reasons I mean stupidities, so he became a ward of the shelter.  

Ginger ultimately adopted him as her own.  

I had the great fortune to spend time with the Bud Man in the last months of Murphy's life.  He, Hudson, and Murphy and I stayed in Ginger's living room and became known as the notorious Couch Potato Kidz, and it was then and there that I got to know him.  

Buddy had two forms of expression that I described as 'The Bud Man Abides' (inspired, of course, by my love of the Dude) and 'The Bud Man is Not Amused'.  The picture nearby personifies the latter cause he really hated when Ginger dressed him up for photo ops.  

There was no middle ground with him and I think that's what I loved best about him.  

Not too long after Ginger became a part of this our story, Buddy's left eye started bulging out and the diagnostics revealed he had a cranial tumor.  Radical surgery removed it along with his eye and part of his jaw, too.  But despite her heroic efforts, the cancer spread to his lungs in the winter of 2010 and slowly sucked the life out of him.  

After Murphy died I went on an 18 day fast in Tennessee.  Within a week of my return from my fast Buddy slumped over and passed away from congestive heart failure.  Ginger says he was waiting for me. 

I miss him deeply and absolutely, and whether you believe that to be true, I've been witness to many things most people wouldn't ever believe... 

Open up... Puppy up

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Stonecrop


It's two days til Tish gets here and this morning she sent me a text from the 'Free CS Lewis Quotes', a daily App she subscribes to I suppose. Here it is:

'Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.  God is holding back to give us that chance.  It will not last forever.  We must take it or leave it.'  

CS Lewis is significant in this our story in so, so many ways.   

Tish chose.  She chose to leave two sons, a job she has worked for 13 years and a town that she has lived in for 42 years for this cause.  

The Fuzzybutts and I were recently in Maine and we happened upon a architectural marvel pictured nearby somewhere between Cape Neddick and Ogunguit.

Stonecrop was built in the 1920s by the singular determination and vision of a woman named Grace Merrill, stone by stone, and beam by beam that she reclaimed from old barns and farms in the area.    

She's an inspiration to us all.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer of Murphy Tour is ON

The Fuzzybutts and I are taking a couple of weeks off and the tour will pick back up after Labor Day in Memphis TN and here are the other 22 cities on the tour and approximate dates.  

09.06. Little Rock  AR
09.07 Denison TX
09.08 Belton TX
09.09 - 09.10 San Antonio TX
09.11-09.13. Austin TX
09.12 - Presenting at the Pet Sitter's International Conference in Austin
09.14 Albuquerque NM
09.16 - 09.21 Las Vegas NV
09.20 First Annual Puppy Up Charity Golf Tournament in Las Vegas
09.22 - 09.25 Denver CO
09.26 Garden City KS
09.28 Liberty MO
09.29 Chicago IL
10.03 Indianapolis IN
10.05 Cincinnati OH
10.07 Fairborn OH
10.08 Columbus OH
10.10 Pittsburgh PA
10.12 New Castle PA
10.13 Monessen PA for their Puppy Up Walk
10.15 Clinton NJ
10.16 Jersey City, NJ
10.18 New Milford CT
10.20 Madison CT

Stay posted here as we schedule event dates and time in each city.  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Japan. Je ne sais quoi


Why walk across Japan?  


The first most obvious reason is that cancer is pandemic and I must take our message and mission international and next year I go to do just that.  

The second reason is Japan is the most progressive society when it comes to animal rights.  When you lose a companion animal federal law mandates a day off for mourning.  Having been there before, it's more than that.  I saw the statue of Hachiko at Shibuya Station (LINK) and his story has stayed with me since even well before Malcolm first came into my life.

Japan is also a technologically advanced society and it'll be a fact finding mission for me about canine cancer as well.  What's the incidence and prevalence of cancer?  What is the exposure to environmental risks and what's the difference in diet and nutrition?  These things I shall discover.  

There are a few other reasons that, well, I'll talk about later.  

The nearby image is a picture I crudely drew in my moleskin of our next challenge, walking from the Southern most island, Kyushu, to the Northern most, Hokkaido.  From cape to cape it's roughly 2,000 miles.  

Friday, July 6, 2012

Ten Days Til Tish


Today bears some significance in this our story.  In less than a fortnight, Tish will travel to Boston to be a part of Team Fuzzybutts, setting aside a year of her life to tell this story and leave behind a family in Texas to do so.   

I had asked her to write a blog in her own words about the implications of her decision but it became too personal.  So I'm writing it in her stead... until she's ready to jump in.     

I know the feeling.  When I committed to March as our launch date 2008 some months earlier, it was pretty intense emotionally and spiritually.  And it was lonely, too.

My brothers thought I'd gone off to the loony bin and my father was sternly against it from a medical risk standpoint.  It's difficult to undo decades of being a doctor to be a dad.  The week leading up to our launch I got a call from him just about every night lecturing me about ticks, mosquitoes, and all the diseases they bear and how he wouldn't support the walk because of the dangers.  

Hell, even my oldest friend wouldn't back us even though I had put together a pretty thorough spreadsheet for success. But the hardest thing was leaving my mom who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's the year leading up to the walk. 

And yet when Hudson, Murphy and I left Walter E. Long Park March 16th, my entire family was there to see us off.  

I hope Tish's family steps up and sends her off the same way but if not, it's up to us to welcome her with open arms as making such a sacrifice does not come without controversy and internal strife.  Nothing great ever did.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The War of 2012


I spent yesterday on a cruise of the Tall Ships in Boston Harbor, which sailed here from around the world to commemorate the 200 year anniversary of the War of 1812.  It was absolutely stunning as the pics portray but it was as equally informative.

I profess a previous ignorance as to the significance of this chapter in our history but I am now enlightened.  And inspired.   (Warning this is a nerd rant.)


The war of Independence established our freedom from tyranny and oppression but the war of 1812, for the first time, defended it.    And it all had to do with the open seas.  Back then our survival as a new nation depended on international mercantilism, the inflow and outflow of people and technology, something that the UK took exception to.


They didn't beat us the first time so they thought they could put a stranglehold on us by regulating maritime commerce.  Basically, they tried to beat the sh*t out of us into submission by sinking our ships.

It didn't work and we did not submit.

This history lesson has inspired me that although we were founded by people who took risks, though sadly we are now governed by those who only mitigate them.  The vast majority of legislators today are lawyers who create laws to justify their space in office and ill equipped to defend us against the greatest modern threat.  

Let me be clear, we are still at war though the threat isn't from cannon fire or fodder, it's cancer.  Cancer is the sum of all of our fears; it's global and is no contender of age, ethnicity, gender, or species and it's time for us to collectively work to eradicate it.  


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Murphy San ミッスタ ー マーフィー

ミッスタ ー マーフィー

I host a monthly Meetup Group, Sushi.Boston, with over 80 members and this past Thursday was a special event at Stephanie's house in honor of the companions we have recently lost.  

On the menu was a Lily blossom - a tempura onion (like an Awesome blossom) with sushi rice, spicy ranch and a pan seared scallop on top.  The inspiration for this dish was when, we first met her on a walk at Shelby Forest in Memphis, I picked a water lily blossom for her.  Lily passed away last week after a long battle with cancer.  

Next on the menu was Sunny Side.  Whenever I make sushi I'm always thinking about different ways of doing things.  We lost Sunny last week as well and aside from her beautiful spirit, her most striking feature was two different colored eyes.  So in honor of her, I made a Hamachi (Yellowtail) and Maguro (Bluefin) sushi with a single cucumber spear and a Wasabi rice cracker with tobiko on top.  

And since it was also the anniversary of my boy's passing last week, on the menu was Murphy san sushi sammich - pictured top and left.  Many of you know about his notorious sammich from previous posts.  I topped a near burnt tortilla brushed with hot chili oil with red scallions, tobiko filled avocados, cucumbers, and tuna dressed with my special spicy soy sesame mayo sauce, a recipe that would've made him proud.  

From my limited understanding of the Japanese culture, they try to balance beauty and sadness in everything they do.  It feels like lifetimes ago when I wrote a blog when Murphy was still with us (LINK) about an untranslatable expression 'Mono no aware'.  

Even, after my darkest hours have receded, it guides me still.  


Dividing By Zero

I was attempting to consolidate my blogs on Blogger.com last week and in the process I deleted myself from them which in any normal, rational, logical world would be seemingly impossible.  Since, after all, I started the blogs in the first place. 

And yet I found myself in an insane version of Descartes theorem 'Cogito Ergo Sum'. In reverse and in binary.  

How can one delete their own thoughts? And yet I almost did.  And the scary thing is four years of this our story were almost tragically lost.  

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for technology and it sometimes serves a purpose.  But does it truly serve our purpose?

I could write an entire book about how many times I tried to use Twitter to keep everyone involved   and informed on our walk from Austin to Boston but it failed almost everytime.  Granted it was a relatively new technology in 2009 but, for example, when we were trying to build excitement for crossing the Purple People Bridge into Cincinnati, I'd been uploading photos leading up to it that didn't even get posted until hours after the event and in reverse order. 

This isn't just a Twitter rant - it's regrettable that all new technology companies think they can come up with the next novel idea, give it away for free, and take it viral.  And when and if it does they offer no support to the users as once they've duped you into using it their money comes from advertisers even though the ad dollars are based on you.  

It's a failed model and to prove it to yourself - take out your iPhone, open up the calculator app and divide any number by zero.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Murphy's Memorial Video

This Memorial video honoring the first anniversary of Murphy's passing I'm reposting for a few reasons.  When I first posted the link I couldn't type anything other than the link because I couldn't see through my tears.  

The director of this video, Deana Wehr, who we were destined to meet walking through Bowling Green KY, the city of the White Squirrel, did such a beautiful job of portraying my boy.  Her artistry and passion for animals are an inspiration.  Please take a moment out of your day to thank her for this video.    

I've had a lot of questions about the song choices.  

1.  I have a long, long history with Gulf Coast Highway the duet of Emmylou Harris and Willy Nelson and it was trail magic and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream of mine that our paths would cross with her one day.  And that she spent an afternoon with Murphy, it was written in the sands of time.

2. Hudson's always been the hugger and dancer that Murphy never was.  There's an Ellen DeG story in there somewhere, but on 'Dance' night at Mommy G's house shortly before he was given rest it was all about Murphy.  She played this song by Garth Brooks and as soon she and Hudson took to the dance floor Murphy cut in.  It was his night.  

I'd never heard that song before nor had Mommy G and it came for us from Michelle and Ramsey on the night I posted on facebook the question of when you go what song will you go to.  

3. Wynonna wasn't an easy choice for the final track.  Heck another country song was the last thing I wanted cause it'd be too obvious given my Texas roots.  But I sang this song to Malcolm twice - before limb amputation and on the way to his final rest.  That Murphy was my last living connection to Malcolm it couldn't have been more fitting.  

Postscript:  out of the tens of thousands of photos of Murphy it was exceedingly tough to select only 150 for the video.  Disinclusion was harder still and I apologize for those who were.  The pics are in the archives and not forgotten.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

This Our Story


When we were still walking through Texas there was a journalist of national repute who wanted to help tell our story.  It would have been an auspicious opportunity but at a cost of thousands of dollars per month in consulting fees and with only a couple of hundred bucks in my pocket at the time, it wasn't tenable so I figured we'd just have to bide our time. 

Four years later, there have been countless other offers to tell this tale that in of themselves could justify a book alone.  

After the final mile I headed out to Colorado Springs to work with Ed on the book. It was supposed to be simple. Man loses dog to cancer. Man and 2 dogs defy odds and walk 2300 miles over 826 days.  That was the story. 

But I was soon to learn that that was only Chapter One.  

Even still, Ed and I worked tirelessy on a book proposal.  Christian publishing houses were all over the story because it was alot about my own personal struggle with faith and belief in God.  But they didn't like my, umm, use of descriptive language.  Like F*ck Cancer.  And Chapter titles like 'Arc Goddamnit' when I danced around a campfire naked outside of Hancock MD (oddly ironic, the town name, now that I think about it). Or my euphemism for when we were in a pickle. Pickle.   

It became clear the Christian market was no place for our saga as there was no way I was going to compromise it or sanitize it for them.    

So we presented the manuscript to other publishing houses with understandably mixed results.  Though their initial rejections were heartbreaking, I didn't need them to tell me something I already knew.  It was unfinished.  I knew that the moment Murphy was diagnosed.     

Even though our manuscript got turned down and 2011 saw multi-million dollar book deals for Snooki and Sarah Palin's kid and the sort, it's what had to happen.

The three act play is ingrained in human nature from Shakespeare to Puccini to Aaron Sorkin.  I could've gotten a ghost writer to tell this story but then it wouldn't have been ours.  It'd been reduced down to a simple formula, packaged, and sold off cheaply.  That is something I can never permit.

But I've bided my time and learned a few things along the way.  How you tell a story is as important as the story itself.  And I've learned that I can no longer tell it by myself.  

So in three weeks time, Tish is moving to Boston and giving up a year of her life to help me tell this, our story. And tell it right.  

Inflection Point


For the first time in a long time, I had a really good day Friday, on Murphy's Day. Walking the final mile again; the beauty of Back Bay Fens and the Emerald Necklace, walking through the Rose and Victory Gardens, down Commonwealth Ave to the Common, it felt so good.  

Then afterwards we went up to Essex for fried seafood and clam cakes at Woodman's with the kids. Murphy was always a passionate eater - he would've been proud.  Later that nite when it was just me and my thoughts I thought I'd write a serious and deeply reflective blog but instead I kept watching that Three Amigos clip and laughing. 

In differential calculus, an inflection point is a point on a curve at which the curvature or concavity changes sign from plus to minus or from minus to plus.

I do not know yet whether it was that so many monumental events took place last week and that put things into perspective or I've finally taken the turn since losing Murphy.  Time will tell.

What I do know is that I found my voice again.  There have been fits and starts, moments of profound sadness and then extreme exaltation and all of the silence in between.  

Heh.  If you look at my dashboard here I have as many drafts, perhaps more, on this blog as I do posts. 

A lot of you have asked, 'Why haven't you published your book yet?' and that's a fair question that I'll answer in my next blog.

For now, I'm just deeply grateful.  For Malcolm. For Murphy. For the Mission.  For Fuzzybutts 3 and 4. For being blessed with our adventures past and future. And for you for having the courage to keep the Faith.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

In Famous

This past week we saw Indy's birthday party on the 16th, Father's Day on the 17th, the 2nd anniversary of the Final Mile in Boston on the 19th, the Toyota competition on the 20th, and today one year since Murphy was given rest.  

What an exhausting roller coaster of emotions week it's been.  

But will it be remembered as infamous or in famous? Reminds me of a scene from the Three Amigos.  

I started to write a serious blog tonite but I don't think he really wanted me to.  Murphy never took things too seriously (xcpt for food and pyr paw and snuggle snuggles). 

Like the DH Lawrence poem, Murphy was a wild thing, never sorry for himself.  


That we didn't win the Toyota competition was disappointing but we've crossed this bridge before countless of times on our travels.  Having faith is momentary.  Keeping it isn't.  

The Summer of Murphy Tour starts in September and as it stands will include the following states: Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut.


In the spirit of Murphy, it'll be a celebratory tour thanking all of our supporters, making new friends, and showing the world that cancer will never keep us down.  There's much much more in store and we'll post exact dates and cities in the coming weeks.

Maybe we should call it Murphy's In Famous Tour?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

We Got Beat

Team Fuzzybutt lost the 100 Cars for Good competition and I'd like to share a few thoughts about the experience.  

1. Thank you to all of our friends and supporters who took extraordinary efforts to take us over the top and that we didn't reach it is by no means a loss.  All of us who have been touched by cancer have been beat down but we learn to get up again and fight so long as god may grant us the strength to do so.  

2. I want to thank Toyota for their tremendous and generous philanthropic program.  They are a thought leader for other corporations around the world to emulate and to show how to step up to help small non-profits who are trying to make a difference.  

3. Our warmest congratulations go out to the Central Aroostook Humane Society on winning the competition.  Since I have volunteered at dozens of animal shelters on our travels I have witnessed first hand the rampant problem of pet overpopulation and abuse. However...

4.  As well planned and orchestrated the competition was, it's unfortunate that Toyota pitted our two organizations against each other.  They say that a couple of million dogs are euthanized every year due to owner neglect but at least twice that are diagnosed with cancer.  But statistics don't matter.  We share a common enemy. 

2 Million Dogs recently funded a $50,000 study that took mammary tumors from shelter dogs at the University of Pennsylvania to analyze their DNA and try and understand how breast cancer metastasizes in women.  

It's a model that speaks to the fact that our mission and that of humane societies across the country are not mutually exclusive and I hope we can all do a better job of collaborating against the worst epidemic facing companion animals and people.  

5. Although I'm licking my wounds - and the fuzzybutts are just licking themselves - in the interest of good sportsmanship, I'll be sending Aroostook a picture of Murphy, after whom the Toyota was to be named. Use it well.  

6.  Now, I've gotta go.  I have a Dachshund to kill, make Indy eat a rat, and plan for Murphy's 1 year tomorrow. 

Cancer Can't Keep a Good Dog Down 

Keep the Faith & Puppy Up!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Father's Fathers Day Wish

Late December 2010 when it became evident that Murphy's initial course of radiation had not only failed but a new tumor, a sarcoma, had developed I knew his time was running out.  And even though I made the hard decision for a radical second round of radiation, my mind was already planning one final farewell tour:  To the cities we had not walked through and for those who hadn't met Murphy and witnessed his indomitable spirit.  

The handful of my confidants, who were in on the early discussions about the tour, were resoundingly against it for they feared the stress would compromise his already battered body.  Although I fought fiercely for it, within a few weeks his health deteriorated and I knew they were right and the tour was canceled.  

Almost equally painful than resigning yourself to the inevitability of losing your child and the absolute sense of helplessness was the sad realization that Murphy would never directly touch lives like the thousands he had on our walk.  

I saved this blog for Father's Day because as a father you do everything you can to save the life of your child and when that fails you do everything you can to carry their memory and beauty forward.  

On the eve of the first anniversary of his passing, we have the possibility of fulfilling that dream.  We are planning a 20 city Summer of Murphy tour and the Toyota 100 Cars for Good has given us the chance to realize it.  

The Murphy Mobile, as it will be christened, will be a beacon of hope and belief at every stop it makes for everyone and anyone who has been touched by cancer.  It'll be both a place of celebration and remembrance and a reminder that our work is not done.  

I wish I could have saved my boy.  I wish I could bring him back.  But I hope and pray I can keep his legacy alive. This is my Father's Day wish.

And to do so, I need your help.  Please vote for 2 Million Dogs to win a Murphy Mobile. Even though voting doesn't begin until 10AM EST on the 20th, right now you can go to www.100carsforgood.com, type 2 Million Dogs in the search box and click on 'Remind Me' and an email reminder will be sent to you.

Keep the Faith, Puppy Up, & Happy Father's day.  


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Indiana's First B-Day Party














When: Saturday 16th 3ish - 5ish

Where: Blue Hills Reservation -  Nahanton Hill Scenic Overlook.  The hike is about 1/2 mile up onto a plateau of rocks that have an awesome sweeping vista of Boston.

I plan on arriving early to grill up some tapas for the picnic.

What to Bring:  I have it on the highest authority that what lil' Indy really needs for his bday is a Sea Ray 350 Sundancer Sports Cruiser with a T-MerCruiser 8.2 MAG ECT Bravo III 375 hp Sterndrive.   

Or 20 bags of Nature's Variety Raw Boost Bite treats, two dozen of their split beef knuckles (for the knucklehead), and a can of worms (just in case).

Or just bring yourself and your puppers for a ton of fun at one of Boston's most stunningly beautiful parks.  If you haven't already RSVP'd - send me an email at 2dogs2000miles@gmail.com.  

Weather Contingency:  Looks like it'll be a gorgeous day but in the event of rain, we'll still meet at the Scenic Overlook then take our party to one of the nearby pavilions.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Jumping Off Cliffs

I was a big fan of Ray Bradbury growing up and his books The Illustrated Man and Fahrenheit 451 influenced me as a precocious and scientifically curious young lad.  I recently learned of his death while listening to NPR and the segment reminded me of how much he believed in the human spirit and our propensity to achieve greatness and goodness.  

It reminded me of one of his most inspirational quotes, "Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down."  It was one of several that would shape my life and instill in me the conviction that an ordinary person could pull off the seemingly impossible.  

What saddens me most, perhaps, about Bradbury's passing is that I fear there's a paucity of successors who will carry his hopes, dreams, and preternatural prescience forward.  

I highly recommend listening to the NPR segment on Bradbury.  And if you don't, I sure as hell hope it's because you're jumping off a cliff...


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Reflections of a Colonoscopy

As some of you know I had my first colonoscopy yesterday and although I am only 41, I have a familial history of colon cancer and early screening can often determine the difference between life and death.  Colorectal cancer ranks second or third in total annual cancer related deaths in the U.S depending on the source and it's very serious.

This blog isn't.

But it's a blow-by-blow (please pardon all puns herein - intended or otherwise) account of my experience.

May 31 2012. 7 PM.  Magnesium Citrate first dose.  The protocol for the procedure at the Endoscopy center where it was conducted called for two - 15 ounce doses one the day prior and one the morning of.  The label of the 'MagC' as it's commonly known as, says it's a 'Pasteurized Sparkling Saline Laxative'.

I want to personally meet the marketing knucklehead who came up with that tag line.  It's as though they wanted me to envision myself enjoying a glass of Pouilly Fuisse on the Champs Elysees.  The bottle actually has a pic of a lemon on it.

I wouldn't criticize said marketing knucklehead for irresponsible labeling or anything of that sort.  Rather they've missed a unique opportunity to cross-brand or strategerize a marketing synergy or whatever.  Think of a vodka based cocktail:

Magnesium Citratini.  Nip and Purge.  No doubt any one of the other desperate real housewives who like to get drunk and lose weight at the same time will pounce on this opportunity.

JELLO. The only 'solid' food I could have the day prior and I kept hearing Bill Cosby saying "If you have a colon, the first thing you need to do is eat JELLO".  Oh Jeez, it's going to be a long night.

June 1 2012. 1 AM - 2 AM.  Sleep.  "When I woke up this morning my girlfriend asked me, 'Did you sleep good?' I said 'No, I made a few mistakes'." - Steven Wright.  

An hour's sleep is all I got prior to the procedure and it wasn't restful.  It was like I was caught in a collaborative short film by Woody Allen and Tim Burton.  I dreamt I was running through a cheap looking rubbery synthetic colon lined with attacking polyps.

June 1 2012.  7 AM - 8 AM.  Traffic.  The morning drive from Winthrop to Wellesley was hellacious  and during it I added a new phrase to my medical diction.  "Angry Bowels".

June 1 2012. 9 AM.  The procedure.  Hmm... I won't go there.  

Postscripts 1.  The physician removed a 'suspicious' polyp.  The image I got in my head was a camo-fatigue clad polyp with a Beret sporting a goatee smoking Clove cigarettes.  Course I was hopped up on Fentanyl and Versed at the time.

Postscripts 2.  Casting for a spin off of Jersey Shores has begun now that we have Toomey and Paulie.

Postscripts 3. 'Paulie' is being biopsied but the likelihood of him being malignant (unlike the other Pauly) is minimal since we caught it early.  

Postscripts 4.  Two words - Sympathy sushi.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Upcoming Events

Meet the NoToRIouZ Fuzzybutts at the following Upcoming Events

June 3rd 2012 Potter League Animal Shelter's Heart and Sole Walk.  The walk starts at noon and we'll arrive shortly before that.  The folks at Potter League were very helpful to us when we walked through Rhode Island and if you'd like to donate to the shelter on behalf of 2 Dogs 2000 Miles click here for the fundraiser page.

June 10th 2012 Canine Wellness Fair with the Dogs Scouts of America Troop 188 at the Agri-Science wing of Ledyard High School in Ledyard Connecticut.  We'll be there from 10AM til 2PM at the 2 Million Dogs booth.

June 16th 2012 Indiana's Birthday Party.  Come join us at Blue Hills Reservation for an afternoon of hiking, eating, and celebrating Moose's first.  If the weather permits we'll hike up Nahantan Hill to the scenic overlook of Boston otherwise we'll find a pavilion there.  I'll post more details as they materialize.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Memphis

I wish I had a really cool expression for Memphis like in the opening scene of Apocalypse Now... "Saigon.  Shit."  

It's a strange place for me; it's a city much defined in our story by defiance, redemption, and salvation and yet it will always be the capital of my absolute sadness.   

It's where everyone said there was no possible way Hudson, Murphy and I could cross the mighty Mississippi River but we did.  

It's where Murphy was given final rest.  It's where I fasted for 18 days in almost unendurable conditions then lost another mate to cancer, the incomparable Bud Man.  

It's a city that could have broken me many times over. 

But to use an expression from a John Donne poem, Memphis will always be a fixed foot for us and that's because of Mommy G.

Returning to Memphis for the first time was filled with mixed emotions but I did so because it was Ginger's inaugural Puppy Up Walk and there was no way the fuzzybutts and I were not going to be there to support her.  


And as soon as we arrived much to her surprise, she put us to work.  Scripting and shooting the Toyota video was one our top priorities there but her Pete's Pink Garden which I started last year was way up on the list, too.  

I built a raised bed for her and moved two yards of dirt, stripped her side yard of scrub brush and a Holly tree.  Mostly.  I hacked and hacked away at it with machete and chainsaw but like all of the Hollys I've dated in my lifetime, it was just too damn stubborn and got the better of me.

But it wasn't all work while we were there.  We went to Trolley Night - a curious celebration of Memphis Mass transit even though the Riverfront car we wanted to take on trolley night never actually arrived.  

I don't remember why knucklehead is sporting a jesters hat or where that fits into the story here - just like this red penguin. Who took that pic?  Must be a metaphor. 

We also had us some fine Memphis style ribs at Central BBQ with several of the out-of-towners who traveled many, many miles to participate in Memphis' first Puppy Up walk.  

Let's see.  On the left that's Pamela (w/Shaughnessy) and Jesse (camera guy), Hope, Dawn and husband, John (right), Sheila, Ginger, and Jeri.  

That's only some of the people from 11 states who showed up for the inaugural event.  Ginger draws the finest crowd.  

It was a good day and amidst the miasma of emotions from all of us who have lost and suffered and still grieve, it was impossible not to feel the undercurrent of hope and belief. 

Nicely done, kiddo.  You make us proud