That’ll be carved into my tombstone. 
I always found it to be a cosmic irony that I was the guy picked for this job if that’s even the right word for describing my life’s mission.  But trust me this was not the path that I chose for myself.  
Today is the anniversary of when I lost Malcolm – he was a gift from an ex from some distant land some distant time ago.  I didn’t know a damn thing about dogs back then other than I didn’t want one.  I worked 12 hours a day times 7. I was the chairman of this, the director of that… the creator and entrepreneur and my life didn’t lend itself to distractions.
And that’s what a dog was to me. A distraction.  
You see Malcolm & me was no easy thing.  He balked when I wanted him to obey and for six long months he and I were at war.  I didn’t know back then but I believe now he was fighting for my soul. 
And isn’t that the lesson?  No spirit should be secondary.  Not to anyone or because of anything.  
It’s been a decade since lung mets sent him into congestive heart failure and Malcolm died in my arms.  It was an inglorious death to a giant and only those who understand, understand.  
damn dog. i miss you. damnit. 
YBD’s Notes: What better way to celebrate Malcolm’s life than by damning him. I’m quite certain he would’ve done the same about me.  He was a beautiful boy.  
I should’ve been fasting these past 10 days out in the hinterlands of Tennessee.  All alone in my trusty tent starving myself of sustenance in order to achieve some greater clarity, understanding and context that occasionally is lost to me.  Heck I was packed up and ready to head out and then something stopped me.  Can’t say what for sure – but the cascade of events set in motion since have been nothing short of metamorphic.   
Recently, I met a man who showed me another way and for the past two weeks I’ve been doing some serious transcendental shit; acupuncture, chanting, Reiki and sensory deprivation (not like Altered States – I’m already a beast of a man but more internal, intrinsic).    If I didn’t know better I’d think I’d been smoking some serious Humboldt county style Boo-Ya.  Yes, yes I got a PhD in weed on the west coast.  
Sure, I’ve acknowledged the possibility and potential of and even dabbled in these Eastern type practices but never personally, truly, and profoundly have I explored them.  And now I’m down in it.  
So where is it going to take me?  What’s the endpoint of it all?  To this, I am as yet uncertain.  But here’s what I have learned thus far on this new path.
The Fallacy of ‘What Should Happen Should Happen’
I was never any good at Logic – not the concept or application of it – but in the scholastic sense and  as a subset of philosophy.  So in attempting to make sense of the sequence of events that led me here to this time and place – I made up this fallacy which is basically the basis of flawed logic. 
People often ask me why did you walk those thousands of miles.  Oh sure, I’ve got a pocket full of reasons.  The fun, flippant one – everything is bigger in Texas and when we lose a dog to cancer down there we don’t walk around a park, we walk cross country.  Then I’ve got the media sound bite version – sharing Malcolm and Murphy’s story from town to town to raise awareness of the epidemic of canine cancer. I’ve got many more but you get the point.  
Perhaps they are all truths or variations of the same one but for me it’s because I believed walking from Austin to Boston would help heal my loss of Malcolm, to soothe my savage heart. And then within weeks of the final mile, Murphy was diagnosed and, well, most of you know the rest of that story.   
And so I walked another 1,700 miles doubling down on the belief that THAT would heal me.   
You see the fallacy in this logic?  That because I believed it should, it should’ve.  But it didn’t.  
Luke 4:23
You know, it’s commonly thought that the origin of my name is ‘light giving’ and the best known example of it is the apostle Paul’s traveling companion and doctor.  This proverb – I had to look that up since, um, well I usually skipped Bible study in search of less pious pursuits shall we say – in Latin reads cura te ipsum  – ‘Physician heal thyself’ something that’s been a bit of an impossibility for me it seems.  
I suppose my post-facto rationalization has always been – I never spare myself any emotion for Malcolm and Murphy no matter how painful.  I can endure it.  Just like so many nights on the road and asea, I can weather this storm.  But I have suffered so.  
Self-imposed or not.  
Disconnection
Back to this newfound friend of mine, whom I barely even know. He showed me that pain can be a way to separate yourself from others.  To disconnect from them.  Furthermore, he said that people like me unknowingly use tragedy to spare themselves from the need and necessity of love and letting others in.  
I’m not sure if I believe all of his bullshit yet – but hey, I’m listening.    You see, it’s one thing to turn tragedy into action – oh, I’ve done that and then some.  It’s quite another thing to allow that experience to truly transform you.  And it’s here I find myself at this intersection.   
Life Off Road
Not to put too fine a point on it but I’ve become a bit of an expert on backpacking the byways, highways, back roads and farm roads of this incredible land of ours.  But take me off and away from it and I tend to fall apart.  Perhaps it’s because I’m always in pursuit of an idea, a belief, a cause – our cause – that remains elusive to me.  Or maybe it’s as simple as finding sedentary existence unsettling and like Carthamus I’m damned to a life of wandering and wondering.   
And while I have been pretty good at chronicling and sharing my journeys on the road with you, I’ve been decidedly deficit in talking about it off, especially post west coast.  From now on, that will change.  I won’t let fear, doubt, uncertainty, darkness or utter despair disconnect me from you again.  
In part because some of you have said to me you find the latter much more inspiring and relatable if not essential than the former.  And in part because my new friend tells me to.  
That and I need a simpler formula for existence.  I live.  I learn.  I write.  Something like that… just less cheesy and Julia Roberts sounding.  
Postscripts
Two blogs in draft right now (1) On Turning 36 – My travels and adventurin’ have taken their toll on Yer Big Dog so I lick my wounds and tell tales about it; (2) The Theory of Cancer – lately my thinking has gotten so abstract and theoretical about the evolution of cancer. Where is it going and how can that affect our thinking about the future of therapeutics? On societal and civil re-engineering?  Reflections on my conversations with thought leaders and a whole host of other ideas – this will definitely be a multi-part project. 
There are more… lots more but I’m attempting to do a better job of prioritizing my crazy.
——–

YBD’s Notes 1: The name of this blog has a special meaning to me.  Back when I was a businessman in Texas I would often take Malcolm up to my office in the evenings and that inspired a series of writings I entitled Midnight with Malcolm.  Dunno what the change denotes quite yet…

YBD’s Notes 2: I stuff hyperlinks in my blogs if’n anyone wants to learn more about things that fascinate me but be forewarned – logic will make yer eyes water.  

YBD’s Notes 3: Upon further reflection ‘What Should Happen Should Happen’ SHOULD be a fallacy. Oh boy.

YBD’s Notes 4: Coincidentally, whilst recently consolidating all of my scant worldly possessions from around the country, I found this photo of me taken at the blessing of my childhood home.  I’ve seen too much of this world in this life to believe in coincidences.  Thanks to my sister-in-law Linda for preserving it.  Nice bowl cut, Mom
YBD’s Notes 5:  I should choose a name for my new friend – he’s not imaginary.  I Promise.  At least in my mind.  In this room.  That’s white.  And padded.  

YBD’s Notes 6: Perhaps it’s still too early for me to write – no, I’m always doing that – to publish about these transcendental, metaphysical experiences and experiments.  But hey, at least I’m rounding again.  
November is #PetCancerAwareness Month.  Now I don’t know who made this month but for more than a few reasons, there’s a cosmic irony about it.  The first of which is Malcolm (the first dog I lost to cancer and whose death inspired our travels) – his birthday was the eve of.  

It’s been many years since his loss and I don’t reflect on it oft but his light of life emanates from me still. And recently, it was all brought back.  

I was grateful to be invited to participate at the Connecticut Shoreline Puppy Up Walk last Sunday October 30th and it was an absolutely gorgeous day – a bit balmy but cloudy at times.  Everything was going great though the proceedings seemed to be delayed until the news came down.  The Dog Cancer Hero, Medalla, whom we all had been awaiting her arrival, collapsed in the parking lot, was administered CPR by her vet, but tragically passed away en route to the clinic.  

And everyone’s crying and the microphone was given to me to keep the proceedings ongoing.  Those of you who know me I’m not usually at a loss for words but I wept, too, and publicly something I hadn’t done so since Murphy.  After a moment of silence we all soldiered on and walked the two miles at Guilford Fairgrounds.  All of us except Medalla.  

Perhaps that’s why I wept.  Some of us cross the finish line.  Some of us don’t.  And with Murphy it was close. 

And while, at least for now, we don’t know why, we should all give thanks that we’re shadowcasted by the great brilliance of those we have lost. 

This month, more so than others, give some goddamn great love to your companions, with whom your time together is transient but will walk aside you for thousands of miles until the end.  

I want to thank MariAnne for sharing Medalla with us all and nearby is a bit about her in MariAnne’s words.  



——–

Medalla was a mixed breed rescue from Puerto Rico. While I was there on business, we found each other on a secluded beach in the small town where I was staying.  She was just a puppy, between 3-4 months old.  From that day forward, she was the most loving and faithful friend I could ever hope for.  She never left my side. If you asked anyone at Guilford Vet Hospital, they would say she was a shy, quiet dog, but like most children, at home she was very talkative and the alpha of her pack.  

At six years old, Medalla was diagnosed with Lymphoma. After Chemo, she immediately went into remission.  This summer, she came out of remission for the second time. This was her third round of treatments. She immediately went back into remission again.  She was such a little trouper and took everything so well.  Unfortunately, I lost her to a heart attack, before she could finish her Chemo.  I want to thank Guilford Vet Hospital and all canine cancer research for giving me an extra 3 years with my wonderful baby girl. 
We all know the famous line from Apocalypse Now, “Charlie don’t surf”, but there’s a lesser known one from my travels, “Pet parents don’t golf”.  
Never understood why really since alot of public courses let you take your companion with you. That’s actually how Malcolm, my first great Pyrenees, and I became eternal mates.  Golf.  

That’s him with Murphy’s mum at the Alsatian golf club. He rode shotgun in the cart, never barked in my backswing, and gave me, ahem, a mulligan here and there.  What more could you ask of a mate?  
Well, he did have a bit of difficulty with yardages.  And squirrels. 
I’ve always wanted to promote golf as another way to spend more time with your companion and coming up in August, we’re hosting the first annual ‘Puppy Up and Putt it In’ golf tournament in San Antonio, TX.  
It’s hosted at the beautiful JW Marriott TPC Canyons Course and the proceeds from the event go to funding comparative oncology research and education and awareness about cancer in dogs.  
Come out and play 18 with us for the cause and to learn more about how you can participate as an individual golfer or sponsor, download the PDF or please contact lorraine.rose@marriott.com 

And yes’m we keep the tradition alive.  That’s Indiana Jones at a golf course in Atlanta GA.  The question I get most about this pic – was he putting for par?  
That and is Hudsy giving him a read on the break?  
Puppy Up and Putt It In.

I often joke that after Malcolm died I sold my truck and put my stuff into storage but it wasn’t just a soundbyte.  Nothing I do or say ever is.

But after almost a decade, tucked away on the I-35 corridor in a 10×10 closet, it was time for a reckoning. That’s an interesting word.  Reckoning.

Its origin can be found in old English which gave rise to such concepts of calculation and conclusion.

2014 is the 10 year anniversary since Malcolm was first diagnosed.  How many miles, how many years have I walked since then?  How many people have we touched and inspired?  How many lifelong friendships have we forged?

It’s incalculable.  Just like love.

Another true joke is that in short order, in 2004 my dog got cancer, my girlfriend left me and she took the truck.  The pathetic irony is well, I’m from Texas.  But that year I was all alone I watched a movie Love Actually.

You see, I’m the last person to watch romantic comedies or really anything to do with Hugh Grant but it spoke to me about the messiness of life and love and how little I knew about it all.  But I’ve watched it every year since and today is no different.

Happy XMAS.  Love actually.

——–

YBD’s Notes 1:  There was a reckoning tho – I cleaned out my storage locker most of which ended up in a landfill, the rest I’ve given away to friends and family.  I am unencumbered.  Except by love. 

At 11;30 PST, in the shadows of the Laguna mountains we walked the length of Coronado Island to the edge of Oneonta slough and Hudson, Indiana and I completed our border to border West Coast walk.  
And like most of our Southern  California days, it was sunny and 70.  Indeed, it was a glorious day.  

And like all great endings one not without its comedic twists, cosmic ironies, and poignant moments. 

The morning began with a seven mile hike to the meeting place for our Final Mile which Ginger joined us though I’d quickly learn less for the honor and privilege of partaking in such a powerful experience but more for showing off her new kilt.  Really Ginger???  There can be only One Who Rocks The Kilt…

A couple dozen friends met us to walk the final mile, some we had met along our travels, some were new.  But to my utter shock and surprise, two of my oldest and dearest friends were there:  Jim and Renee with Tripawds.  Man was that way awesome.  And it made a circle round.  You see, they were in Austin to launch our first walk and now at the ending of our second.  Yep I got all choked up. Thanks for the avocados guys – only noticed yesterday you put them in a poop bag.  Hee hee.

Inspired by another of our friends, John Stalls, who walked from Delaware to San  Francisco, I had hoped to jump into the Pacific Ocean to punctuate our tremendous accomplishment but was greeted by this sign.  Apparently Tijuana thinks the slough is a dumping ground for their sewage sludge.  Precise opposite of the pristine Canadian border where began our adventure but the two constants throughout all of it were mountains to east and the ocean at our west.  And my companions by my side.  And that includes not only Indiana who made the entire trek but Hudson who made it to the California border and Malcolm and Murphy in spirit.  

——–
There are so many people to extend great thanks to – the friends we made along our path, kind and courteous strangers, and even the idiot drivers who although from no lack of trying, didn’t kill us on the PCH.  Walking through and across 19 states now, I know of no more treacherous stretch of road.
Thanks to my team and all of the volunteers who helped out in various capacities to ensure our safe passage and make this experience matter, to those who walked the virtual final mile with us, and to our sponsors.  
I have lots of thanking and reflecting to do in the coming weeks but without a moment’s rest, I leave now for Texas to catch up on a lot of work, rest a bit, and spend a week with family….

It was no choice
That set this course

Astep, astride
The road abides

And through its length
I cried,

‘Oh beauty burns
Your trail etern.

The silence of your roar
That swept me neath

No more. No more.’

——–

YBD’s Notes1:  The west coast walk was long and hard, harder than any stretch of the road we’ve been on before.  But the much bigger lesson here is we’re in this together if we have a ghost of a chance to eradicate cancer in us and our companions in our lifetime, puppy up damnit

YBD’s Notes2:  Happy XMAS

Of course there’s a zombie foot on our travels.  This was on the sidewalk in Florence OR

Curious moss covered listing ship in rogue river bay

Ummm did someone contact the marketing dept before putting a spout on the company van grill?  

The head shed?  Ok

It’s never the moving forward that’s the hardest thing on a long journey.  It’s the leaving behind. 

Tuesday August 5th at 12:30 The fearless fuzzybutts and their kilted mate crossed the stateline into California alongside a dozen or so lovely companions.  The folks of Brookings OR really rallied together and gave us the perfect send off (or they were anxious to kick our fuzzybutts into the next state).

We were greeted by this sign at the Blue Coast Hotel and Zoe, the concierge was most gracious to us during our stay.  The warm welcome and generosity of the folks from Brookings couldn’t have exemplified our Oregon experience better.  



From L to R: jan (dog less), Tracey & Greg (with canyon, willy & red) Marlene, & carol with Oso.  Not present in the photo are Donna, the mastermind behind team Brookings, Arliss the chamber of commerce head who helped out a ton, and Suzy Q. Can’t thank team Brookings enough for making our last stretch in Oregon so special.  


We found this garden of Eden, smallish white flowered meadow just large enough to accommodate our tent above the cape Sebastian beach.  One of the most magical places we’ve tented out here and it’s significant in that it’s the closest we’ve camped to the water for a few reasons.  High water mark isn’t easy to discern and even if I could the tides are semi-diurnal meaning 2 high and low tides per day.  Plus with the mountains most of the coast has been either too far down or outland.
There’s a saying that’s taken me awhile to learn, ‘Don’t turn your back on the pacific.’  
Mountain mists and fog banks are a daily occurrence here. High temps from the valley east of the coastal mountains pull cooling air off the Pacific Ocean.  Though they consume the coastline and make visibility limited on the coastal highway, they keep the mornings and late afternoons cool. 




Previous three photos were taken at cape Sebastian beach.  We’ve seen so much native beauty in Oregon but this place will always hold a special place in our hearts.


Indiana provides quite the comic relief.  His quirky sometimes quixotic character cracks me up.  


Port Orford – the battle rock.  What a stunning vista in one of the smallest coastal towns we’ve been in.  

So many more photos and videos from the Oregon coast but one common problem had plagued us throughout – cell phone service.  It’s so bad I had to get a verizon go phone in case of emergencies.  I hear it’s better in northern CA but around the bend is miles and miles or redwood forest and we take it one mile at a time.

But before we move on I want to thank the people who made Oregon so memorable and historic (in no specific order other than on the top of YBD’s head):  Cathy the Pyrenees queen, Cathy from Portland who took us to the rose garden; Maria & Chris who helped me rescue the damn dove; Rob & Cindy – never got to use your card rob even tho I hoped to pull it out & say something cool like, ‘call this man’; sandy & Anna – thnx for the spacious fenced in lot for us to plop at night and your kind and generous spirits, Vince & Diane – the little green man hopes to see you again on our trek; Candy & the grandkids from the ‘Boo’; Kim, Red & Carlie from Florence; heather from the Florence animal shelter, Laura from FOCCAS in coos bay, the animal shelter in gold beach; Maryanne & Greg who looked after Hudson in gold beach;  Jenny who took us to breakfast at a Toyota dealership – that was strange but good; & grandma carol who cried when she had to return Hudson to the road.  

Though the list not complete and for that I apologize our lives are richer and fuller having crossed paths with you in Oregon.  And though we must move on, you’ll always be in our thoughts. 

——–

YBDs notes: orygun (sic)
A week from today our good friend Valerie from CT is flying to CA to join us on the road for a week.  In her words she wants to experience what our life is like out here and not just walking a mile or a day.  Yep pack, tent, she’ll be carrying her on weight.  I’ve invited her to guest blog here so we can discuss last minute preparations and she can share her side of the adventure.
V – 
I shed my base layers, tops and bottoms in Brookings & I’ve regretted it since.  Temps in Northern California, or at least this stretch of it ave low 60s in the day and 50s at night.  Sweltering heat from the rogue valley pulls high afternoon winds and fog banks and unless I’m in my tent snuggled up with the boys I’m chilled by the damp air.  
But as I’ve found along the coastline from Newport OR to here there are different microclimates distinct to each of the areas.
The redwood forests are right around the bend and I can’t speak to the climate there yet.  My suggestion is pack lightweight base layers – silk, which I prefer, or wicking synthetic.  Fleece just adds more pack weight & don’t think you’ll need the heavier fabric.
Shoes – hope you have that worked out by now. Don’t know why the vasques cause toe cramping – I love mine – but each foot has different demands.  But that has to be resolved ASAP.  Like fletcher wrote – footwear is the foundation – get that wrong and you won’t make it a week.
Don’t worry about packing first aid sundries – I keep sufficient supply.  Also I pack a multi tool, extra carabiners, zip ties etc.  
I’m worldly enough to know NOT to tell a woman what grooming/cosmetics to pack but since you’ll be carrying your own food and water the pounds add up.  I have nail clippers (since I have to keep toes ultra short) razor & cream (travel size) and axe spray for when I’m in public and haven’t had a chance to shower or do laundry.
You’ll probably want to bring soap since most campgrounds have showers but I wouldn’t expect that luxury more than once during the week.  
Other essentials in your pack – a cpl of ziplock bags to keep your electronics dry, poncho (even though I’ve only used mine twice in the 3 months on the road), a chamois or microfiber towel, sunblock (I don’t carry any), a pkg of wipes or rinse free hand soap, bug spray (though I haven’t had much of a problem thus far and I recommend skin so soft rather than a deet based product).  
Pillow – if your body contour requires it but I don’t afford the space for one and instead use my clothes sack plus my pack for a head rest but it’s not terribly comfortable but comfort is a notion you’ll have to divorce yourself of quickly.  
Once you arrive next Saturday and pick us up from the road we’ll have the balance of the day to do a gear check and purchase any last minute provisions.  But these are mostly small coastal communities out here – no walmarts, best buys or REIs.
Hope your training is going well but don’t push yourself after Thursday. Stick to stretching exercises.  As cell service is questionable up in the forests, post your questions or last minute concerns here….