While at dinner with my family in San Antonio last week Jon said grace and in his prayer he thanked God that ‘Our lost brother has come home’.  
Today I leave Memphis to return to New England to tell this story.  As you know I’ve tried in the past and either the timing or platform or partners didn’t pan out.  Events that have transpired in recent months have convinced me the time is now.  
Admittedly the problem has primarily been me or more specifically the standards I set for it.  Just as with the two walks I wanted to do something no one else has before and relegating the story to the Christian book market or a PBS special was unacceptable.  Even a film festival documentary didn’t seem sufficient.  
The epidemic of cancer in our companions demands and deserves the widest audience possible and I’ve always pushed and pushed to that end.  But one lesson I’ve learned repeatedly is you cannot depend on anyone else to realize your vision and like life on the road it’s you and you alone.  
I now know how to tell this story and the manner in which to tell it so once again I set off into uncharted waters. 
Brother, I am lost no longer.  
YBD 2.27.17
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.
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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.  
Six years ago this Sunday, Hudson, Murphy and I walked the final mile from Back Bay Fens to the Boston Common alongside hundreds of friends and hundreds of canine companions who traveled from 21 states to be there that day. 

When I started out on the road from Austin, TX, I didn’t have much – just a couple hundred bucks in my pocket and a few friends helping me out.  The focus is so intense on each and every step and each and every mile it seemed unfathomable just how far and how long our journey would take us.  And we have gone far! And as we celebrate our sixth anniversary the Puppy Up Foundation has achieved so many incredible milestones. 

Recently I traveled to Madison for their record breaking year, over 1,100 people, and over a $130,000 raised. It’s such an exciting energy to be a part of Team Madison and during a speech by our Scientific Chair, Kai Shiu, said how great it was to be a part of Puppy Up USA.  And I thought, ‘Wow, that’s neat.’ 
 

But then I thought ‘Our reach is international and all of us really are brought together by a common thread that spans border.’  In many ways I feel like we’re becoming an institution and that’s when it hit me.  We are a Puppy Up Nation!

I feel like that at every walk I’ve had the privilege to personally participate in.  I am often asked, ‘What are you most proud of?’  And my response has always been, to go from town to town and see how excited the communities are and successful they’ve been putting on walks – that makes me the proudest.’ 

And that’s why I wanted to share this inspiration with a commemorative T-Shirt to celebrate our 6th anniversary.   And as a way to say thanks to everyone who has made this such a successful organization and as a reminder that we all are together in this and we stand in solidarity.  You can order a shirt here.  
Thank you.  All of you for being a part of Puppy Up Nation!

Hudson, Indiana & Luke

I took time out of my crazy busy schedule to watch the debates last nite. I wish I didn’t but I’m glad I did.  It’s time to face facts folks.  No politician gives a shite that you lost a loved one to cancer or that you yourself have it.  DC has a ‘deaf ears’ policy towards cancer even though it is the greatest global killer ever.
Check out this graphic
Every scientific and medical organization agrees that cancer is the deadliest and most pervasive pandemic afflicting not only adults but innocent children as well.  It no longer discriminates.  
And yet as we bear witness to a cross species scourge that’s killing not only millions of people every year but millions of companion animals as well, what does our president do – a systematical and systemic reduction in funding for the National Cancer Institute.  I wrote previously about this and put forward the facts in my blog #NotMyPresidentDay 
Now I’m not just Obama bashing since the past two administrations are guilty of hamstringing the NCI budget but the most egregious sin Obama committed was funding $6.2 billion in Ebola virus research – almost twice the budget of NCI for a disease that claimed only a few lives in the US.  
Oh and nevermind that he gave out over $20 billion last year to ‘renewable energy’ concerns that failed so piss that money down the toilet. 
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From all of the death and tragedy I’ve witnessed on my travels, I’m truly at a loss why cancer is not front and center in any and all national debate and discussion.  
Yes I’ve heard all of the reasons and rationalizations but my conclusion comes down to this: cowardice and political expediency.    
We used to be a nation of hope and resolve.  Of dreams and ideas.  It took us only 10 years to put a man on the moon defying all odds and previous scientific limitations.  
But now we either relent because big pharma is making so much money from selling blockbuster cancer drugs and politicians are in their pocket or we’ve given up as a nation and accepted the inevitability of complacency.  
There is no one in this world that has put their life and the lives of their dogs at risk for as long and far as I have for this cause but given the current political environment, every day I ask why?  
We’re only a couple of fuzzybutts and yes, we’ve shown what two dogs can do for the world but it’s not enough.  It’s time to make cancer a national referendum or else..
#CancerWins2016

Sydney didn’t make it.  She was due to be discharged this morning but an unexpected cascade of events occurred last night that was unstoppable.

She never made it home but after she was given rest, we got back to Valerie’s house and found Hudson on the pile of comforters and pillows
meant for her as though he was awaiting Sydney’s return.  And Valerie asked me if I believed Sydney’s spirit did make it back.    
Do I believe in that, she asked me.
As a man of both science and faith, I’ve borne witness to many inexplicable, unresolvable things on my travels. Long ago, I wrote a poem whose opening lines were;
“Cast before a silver sheet,
Tracing lines that never meet.”
Reflecting now back on those words I once wrote, I think what I meant was that a life, a love, a mile, a moment in time can be captured photographically but never truly and wholly represented.  
I believe that there is a spiritual connection between loved ones that does and maybe should defy our scientific understanding.  Energy is an expansive thing that is neither created nor destroyed.  And  though the lines never add up and never meet – that connection may change, it is never lost.  

I fought you for 4,000 miles. And the fight has only begun. #companionsagainstcancer

Fiorella La Guardia once said.  “If even a sparrow dies in Central Park, I feel responsible”.

The Interview.  First Episode.  March 16th.

It’s president’s day but I’m in no mood for celebration.  
Oh it’s not because I’m not a patriot as I believe in values like freedom and equality – all of the things that we’ve fought for as a country. That I’ve walked for.
But we have a fight of a different kind now and we’ve been abandoned by our leaders.     
This blog is about the funding for the National Cancer Institute (NCI), this government’s, our government’s, decade long disregardment of, what the World Health Organization called the deadliest disease in 2010 and nothing else.   
Let’s take a look at the numbers.  They represent the total budget of NCI in billions of dollars.
2000 $3.3
2001 $3.8
2002 $4.2
2003 $4.6
2004 $4.7
2005 $4.8
2006 $4.8
2007 $4.8
2008 $4.8
2009 $5.0
2010 $5.1
2011 $5.1
2012 $5.1
2013 $4.8  
Let me give you some context.  This past fiscal year, the current administration earmarked $6.3 billion for Ebola virus research, a disease that affected, what, 1 or 2 people in the US and yet 1/2 of all men and 1/3 of women will be diagnosed with cancer. Nevermind the 2-4 million dogs that develop the same types of cancer every year. Why?
But I get it – it’s politically expedient. Ebola grabs headlines.  
On my first walk, I met with a few legislators and lobbyists and what they said was, ‘Great cause, just get a spokesperson and a celebrity around it and then we’ll listen.’ And so I walked the entire expanse of the West Coast in search of someone who would stand up. No one did.  
Even though celebrities talk about how devoted they are to animal causes.  
In my little world of walking 4k miles for this cause, you get tired of those that just talk and talk
which is why I’ve walked the walk. No one has the right to present themselves as a dog lover unless they stand up to the number one killer of dogs. Cancer.  
I return to DC in June without a celebrity or a spokesperson.   I am no longer a naif.  Having witnessed all of the death I have from cancer I will stand up and be heard.
Divers have to decompress before resurfacing and the greater the depth of the dive the longer the decompression. I’ve pretty much been unplugged and down and out right disconnected since the completion of the West Coast Walk because I needed to.  
But I haven’t just been making angels in the tons of snow that’s blanketed CT – tho Hudsy and Nanners (nice snow stache BTW) have – I’ve been deep in reflection on the enormity my accomplishments but more importantly how to tell it.  The right way.  
The story’s the thing.  
Beginning March 16th, the 7th anniversary of the start of the first walk, I’ll be posting a seven part interview with Yer Big Dog wherein which I will talk not only about the great and the glory of this grand adventure but the trials and tribulations, too.  From the fantastic people we’ve met on our path to the fantastical things we’ve experienced.  
And we’re making it interactive.  I’ve gotten thousands of questions over the expanse of our journey and haven’t always been able to answer all of them so also we’re opening this up to you.  If you have something you’d like to personally ask YBD, send me an email by Feb 15th.  Not via FB or TW or in a comment here.  Hopefully we can get it and we’ll try our best because I have a lot to say.  Over 4,000 miles and 1,044 days, I’ve walked the walk now it’s time to talk the talk.  #4000miles
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.

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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.