Monday, September 30, 2013

THE ROCK: Chapter 15 Part 1: Sponsors. Shit

"To believe in this living is just a hard way to go."  


I have a BBA in Finance and Accounting and I understand a few things about business but none of my education could have prepared me for the byzantine and bizarre world of sponsorship.

You could say I was a naif and you'd be mostly right.


But it was a noble belief.  After all, who wouldn't want to wrap themselves around a storyline that goes like this:

Man doesn't like dogs.  Man gets dog from stripper.  Man v. dog.  Dog wins. Man learns to love dog.  Dog gets cancer. Dog dies.  Man dies, almost.  Man walks 2000 Miles with 2 Dogs for cancer.  Dogs win.  

But it was more than a grand idea.  I not only had a clear vision of what I hoped to accomplish, I also had a well thought out plan.


I'd done my due diligence on the risks, hazards, dangers and challenges that would confront us on a daily basis.  I spent weeks building a spreadsheet on poisonous plants and trees alone and their native habitat.  

Growing up near the Gulf Coast, I knew that Oleanders are so deadly that their toxin suffuses the surrounding soil.  But I had no idea where Yews yewed, rhododendrons rode and Sagos sat.  All, too, could've been lethal to our kids and after compiling worksheet upon worksheet about fatal flora I was getting pretty freaked out.  

It was like I was a risk manager trying to balance catastrophic chances with potential benefits in irreconcilable columns.  And I was still a junior analyst.  


Flora v Fauna

Sure I was worried about toxic trees and plantlife since Murphy pretty much ate anything and everything that seemed edible to him.  But that was down on the risk list as I was more concerned with a clearer more present danger - feral dogs.  

Down south, it's not uncommon to come across a pack of attack dogs and they can take down cattle.  Since we would all be tethered together, they scared the holy hell outta me so much so that I bought a can of bear repellent that I carried in my micro (read fanny) pack.  

But the biggest threat that would present itself to the three of us, Hudson, Murphy and me I determined was, well, you.  On the road I mean.  


A, B, or ZZ

One of the first questions people always ask me is, 'How did you pick your route?'

At some point when you're planning to walk cross country mountains come into play and for us, that was the Appalachians and there were only two sensible choices.

Option A: Hug the Gulf Coast to the Atlantic seaboard and the range wouldn't be a concern. But that would entail us walking through Florida, the lightening capital of the country.  Pyrenees don't conduct electricity all that well so that wasn't going to happen.  

Option B: Nix FL for GA since that's the southernmost extent of the Appalachians. Still, we'd have to traverse the Gulf Coast and the heat and humidity from the sea level states just don't suit mountain dogs' disposition.  

Instead, I chose to Zig and Zag.  Get as far north as fast as possible for cooler more favorable temperatures for the boys and then dog leg east to our destination. But that would mean a longer trek. By a few hundred miles.  Every decision has opportunity costs even though when making life ones, the math doesn't always add up.  


Risks assessed and our course mostly set, all we needed was a few essentials like food, outfitting, and even after selling my Pathfinder for $2000 I didn't have much of it to spend. 


As I was soonly schooled in gearing up for 2 Dogs 2,000 miles, there were a ton of people looking for hand outs for 'charitable causes' and I was merely one in a long, long waiting line.  

Two things made this walk happen: the difference between corporate integrity and gimmickry.  Well that was one of them anyway.


YBD's Notes 1:  At UTSA, I was the President of the Financial Management Association and I lead the most successful fundraising campaign there to get our members to a national event in Chicago.  The theme was industry against academia in an arm wrestling event and I had professors battling it out with stock traders, brokers, and financial managers.  In the end, it was House v Tank.  A 6'6 goliath against a five foot five ton of steel.  Tank won and that taught me a lesson way back when. 

YBD's Notes 2:  The odds never add up unless you take into consideration 3 things.  

Yeah, I went the hard way.  I know of no other way.

YBD's Notes 3:  Part II:  Faith, Love, and Fight.    

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Non Resectable

"I'm sorry.  It's inoperable."

How many of you have heard these words? That diagnosis from Steve Withrow about Murphy's nasal tumor still haunts my thoughts some two years post mortem.  

2 Million Dogs is funding a two year, $80,000 drug delivery study with Animal Medical Center in Manhattan and Sloan Kettering.

The first phase of the study is urogenital cancer in dogs since, at the point of diagnosis, the prognosis is pretty grim.  Less than 30% of bladder cancer patients respond to traditional treatment and since surgical intervention isn't a viable option, the need for target therapeutics is essential.  

We all know that dosing chemo in dogs is drastically less than that of in humans and if we can get the right drug directly into the tumor, we may achieve therapeutic drug levels at 40X the current regimen.  There are other potential benefits such as cost savings but they are ancillary to our aims.  

Speaking of... here's my press release statement:

"It is an honor to work with two prestigious institutions in the fields of veterinarian medicine and cancer research.  2 Million Dogs' scientific objectives in funding cancer studies are collaborative and comparative in both spirit and scope and this study is a shining example of that.  Cancer touches us all.  It is a cross species disease and now more than ever it is imperative for us work together to end this epidemic." 

More importantly, I've come to know the principal investigator, Chick, on a more personal level and I feel he has the vision, fortitude, and fire to make significant strides in the field of comparative oncology.  


Photo from left to right:  Drs. Richard Goldstein and Allyson Berent; Yer Big Dog; Chick Weisse; Kate Coyne (CEO of AMC); Ginger Morgan; Nicole Leibman and Ann Hohenhaus.  

YBD's Notes 1: To date, we've funded genetic or lab research with long-reaching prospects.  This study represents our first foray into the clinical setting.  

YBD's Notes 2:  Ginger amazed Chick with the fact that the $80,000 was raised $20 at a time.  To me, that's a perfect testament to the courage and conviction of all of the volunteers, city organizers, the board members of 2 Million Dogs, and all of those who keep the faith and puppy up!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Two Towers Four Paws

A beautiful blog by Teri Modisette

last remaining dogs
Eleven years ago today, the Twin Towers slipped from the sky and plummeted to earth as America watched in shock. As that once beautiful Autumn day wore on to evening, news outlets reported many people still trapped, slowing dying in the avalanche of metal. How did they know? Those people used cell phones to call their families from beneath the remains of the World Trade Center. One by one, they said final goodbyes as the last of their cell phone batteries blinked out.

No one yet knew the death toll would reach nearly 3,000. All the rescue teams could do was send help. That night as pictures and “Please help me find my son” and “Please help me find my daughter” flyers went up around NYC, help arrived at Ground Zero on four legs.
Several sets of four legs, to be exact.
Emergency workers had flooded the area with light, enabling them to pair with public volunteers in a desperate search for the living, but they needed help from something with better hearing and a better sense of smell than the average human being. They were helped by Moxie and Tara from Massachusetts, Guinness from California, Kaiser from Indianapolis, Bretagne from Texas, Red from Maryland, Hoke from Denver. It was a long shot to call in search and rescue dogs. As good as the dogs were, 9/11 was undeniably a large-scale tragedy.
Search-and-rescue dogs are trained to pick up certain scents on the ground and in the air. Well-trained search dogs have proven to be the fastest way to locate a victim in the aftermath of a disaster like an earthquake or hurricane. Disaster search-and-rescue dogs are trained to find people in incredibly unstable environments, where smoke or chemical smells might affect the results of the dog’s search.
Three hundred and eighteen search-and-rescue dogs were trained to find the living who may have survived 9/11. Unfortunately, the terrorist attacks were a true disaster, making it a fruitless search. Despite this, the dogs at Ground Zero were seen doing what dogs do so well– comforting the firemen and first responders during the darkest hours of their lives.
In total, 950 canine dog teams served in response to September 11, 2001. They served at Ground Zero, the Pentagon, and that field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Eleven years later, 2 Million Dogs remembers the day our best friends experienced  alongside all in this great nation– and the sweet snuggles and tail wags as our tears rolled down.
We will never forget.
Teri's blog and all of the blogs posted by her and Erich Trapp can be read at the 2 Million Dogs Blog
YBD's Notes 1: Thank you, Teri for this beautifully written tribute to the service dogs of 9/11.  
YBD's Notes 2:  Lest we all forget, dogs are essential to our survival and the very essence of our goodness.  

THE ROCK: Chapter 13: Ridiculous Part 3

"Cast before a silver sheet,
Tracing lines that never meet."

Those are the first two lines to a poem I wrote a long, long while ago, even way, way before Malcolm was diagnosed, and they made little sense to me at the time. 

They do now.


YBD's Notes 1:  Though I have plenty more ridiculous things to say and do, I'm done with this chapter and it's time to move on and bring the first book, The Rock, to its conclusion.  

YBD's Notes 2:  Sailing is an inexact metaphor for life.  Ashore, the time to jibe or tack doesn't always translate but I've come about now.

YBD's Notes 3:  Next chapter I'll talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of sponsorship and that'll set the stage for the final chapter.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

THE ROCK: Chapter 13. Ridiculous Part 2

Here. Now

I was born in the year of the dog.  1970. And maybe that's what sealed my fate.

The ridiculous thing is I didn't even realize that until well after we were on the road.  I was in some jerkwater town at an all-you-can-eat Asian restaurant supping by myself and they had those Chinese Zodiac placemats on the table.  The thing you never read unless you're alone.  

After my uncle Jamie passed recently, I've had a tough time composing the next chapter of the story.  As a writer, adventurer, philanthropist - cum chef you never know when your next word, idea, undertaking or meal is your last.  

But we dogs.  We don't care.

What comes next isn't up to us.  The only thing that matters is here and now.


YBD's Notes: There may be a part 3, 4, 5 to this chapter until I figure out what I have to figure out.  My apologies.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

THE ROCK: Chapter 12 Ridiculous

"To do a great right.  Do a little wrong."  Shakespeare


Fall 2007.  San Antonio, TX

“Hello?  Columbia Sportswear?” 

“Yes, how may I help you?”

“I’m interested in obtaining a sponsorship. I’m going on this really cool cross country hike with my two dogs to raise awareness for cancer in pets and…” 

“Are you a professional athlete?”

“Um, no.”

“Do you have an agent?”

“No, ma’am.”

“You need to get an agent.”   

“How do you get one?” 

“First off all you have to be an athlete.”

“But all I really need is a couple of pairs of shorts and shirts to get me started and…”

“Sir, we only sponsor athletes that we can design a line of apparel around”.

"Umm.. can you at least donate a pair of socks?"



YBD's Notes  1:   In a world of inanity, be ridiculous.  

YBD's Notes 2:  Don't seek sponsorship.You don't need it.  

YBD's Notes 3: Seek sponsorship. You need it.

YBD's Notes 4: Socks that is