Puppy Up! Walk: Canine Cancer Awareness
What is Puppy Up!?
Puppy Up!, formerly known as 2 Million Dogs (both names are still being used currently as the transition takes place), officially started in 2008. Their mission is to educate people about human and canine cancer through seminars, speaking engagements, social media, and events, as well as fund and promote oncology research to discover the links between canine and human cancers. www.2milliondogs.org
In 2006, Luke Robinson, the Puppy Up! founder, lost one of his Great Pyrenees, Malcolm, to bone cancer. Two years later he decided to make his first journey, in honor of Malcolm, on foot, from Austin to Boston. Luke walked this distance of about 2,300 miles with his two best friends, Hudson and Murphy, two more Great Pyrenees, until he finished in 2010. Along the way he shared the story of how he lost Malcolm to cancer, and spread awareness about this terrible disease.
On this journey he came through Memphis, TN and was looking for a place to hold an event. Ginger Morgan ran the Humane Society at the time and decided to share her space with him. She told me that she fell in love with Murphy when she met him! Ginger said that she asked Luke what his big picture plan was, and when he told her that his plan was to walk…...she decided that she should offer him some support and maybe some structure. She began to make connections for him from town to town on the rest of his journey and eventually became Executive Director of 2 Million Dogs.
Luke's Current Journey
Luke is currently walking across the country for a second time. This time it is in the memory of Murphy, who sadly passed away from nasal cancer about one year after completing the 2,300-mile walk with Luke. This journey is on the west coast, and began at the Canadian border. It will end when Luke and his traveling companion, Indiana, reach the Mexican border. This walk will be approximately 1,700 miles. Luke is currently in Elk, CA (as of 9/11/14), which is apparently a very small town with spotty cellular service. Ginger has been communicating with him when they are able to get in touch. Luke is about one month behind schedule at this point because one of his Great Pyrenees companions, Hudson, had been having some allergy issues with his feet and they had to stop and rest frequently. Hudson has now traveled to Memphis, been checked by a veterinarian, and determined to be a little lazy and mischievous. Hudson is fine and now resting up while Luke and Indiana continue the journey at a much swifter pace. They are planning to make it to San Francisco around October 1st.
To this date there have been more that 100 Puppy Up! walks across the country, and this year alone 30 cities will have held a walk! These walks are not quite as ambitious as Luke’s. These are two-mile walks that everyone can be involved in, and the goal is to get 2,000,000 dogs walking against cancer across the country.
Upcoming Puppy Up! Walks
Hudson will be attending Ginger’s Puppy Up! walk here in Memphis, which is coming up on Sunday, September 28th. It is going to take place at Overton Park, near the Overton Bark dog park area. Registration starts at noon, and the walk will start at 2pm. There will be a blessing of animals, so definitely come out and bring your furry friends! There will also be food vendors so you can grab lunch while you’re there, and entertainment by Lexi Noel, www.leximusic411.com. At each walk there is a human and a canine Cancer Hero. Wendy Santee will be the human cancer hero this year at the Memphis walk, and Hudson will be the canine cancer hero. Hudson had a tumor removed last November, so he is Luke’s third dog to be affected by cancer in 7 years. The fundraising goal for Ginger’s walk this year is $15,000, and she is almost there! Come out, show your support, and walk for cancer prevention!
There is also a walk coming up on November 1st, in Little Rock, AR. This will take place at the MacArthur Park Pavilion. Registration starts at 11:00am, and the walk will begin at 1:00. This will be a day of fun for the whole family! A silent auction will start at 11:00 and end at 2:30, and prizes will be awarded to the top three fundraisers! The Little Rock Puppy Up! walk is at a little over a third of it’s fundraising goal of $12,000, but with 44 days to go, there’s still time to help them meet their goal by registering for the walk and doing some fundraising! The Cancer Heroes at this walk are David McLain, and Bo Robinson!
Where Do Donations Go?
The money raised by Puppy Up! walks and any other donations received is used to spread awareness and educate the public about cancer, as well as fund research that benefits people and pets alike. Puppy Up! has donated over $80,000 to a Princeton study of mammary tumors, or breast cancer. More recently, $20,000 was contributed to fund a study on bone cancer at MIT and Harvard’s Broad Institute, and $80,000 is also being provided to Animal Medical Center of New York and Sloan Kettering to study transitional cell carcinoma.
Cancer Affects Everyone
- 4-8 million dogs are touched by cancer each year
- Cancer is the number one killer of dogs over 2 years old
- Cancer is the number one disease killer of children
- 16,000 companion animals are diagnosed with cancer daily
- 46,000 people are diagnosed with cancer daily
- 46 children are diagnosed with cancer daily
- One out of 330 people will develop cancer before the age of 20
Early Warning Signs of Canine Cancer
One of the main goals of Puppy Up! is to educate people and spread awareness about this disease. Here are ten early warning signs, or the “Ten L’s” of canine cancer of which you need to be aware:
- Appetite Loss
- Weight Loss
- Loud Odor
- Loss of Normal Body Functions
- Loss of Blood or Bloody Discharge
- Labored Breathing
What Can I Do?
Two big contributors to cancer are environmental factors, such as pesticides, herbicides, and cleaning products around the home, as well as a poor diet and poor nutrition. These are things you can control and may lead to prevention or better management of cancer. Of course there are genetic components to some types of cancer, but the quality of life you provide for your pet can work with, or work against, whatever genes he was dealt. Use green cleaning products and don’t expose your pet, or yourself, for that matter, to harsh chemicals. Feed your dog a good quality food. READ THE LABEL!!! Cheap grocery store brands are harmful to your pet, just like eating only processed foods, chips and ice cream every day would be harmful to you!
Ginger (and I) also believes that watching your dog’s weight and getting him plenty of exercise will be helpful. People who have a positive outlook and are able to move around and enjoy their lives have been shown to do much better at holding disease at bay, so why wouldn’t this be true for your dog? If you do these things, you will at least be one step ahead of the game!
Ways to find out about a Puppy Up! walk near you, donate, find out more information, and stay in touch: