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
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.

“With every damn dog I love, I learn something I didn’t know.”

Since I’ve been off the road from the West Coast Walk and perhaps what I witnessed while on it, I’ve been wondering why Hudson has had 3 mast cell tumors in less than 2 years despite favorable path reports and negative genetic indicators.  

Even though we’ve had two allergy tests on him for some odd reason I never thought to consult an allergist.  Until Tuesday.  We met with Dr. Shanley at Hope Vet Specialists in Malvern PA on our way to the Puppy Up Walk in Madison WI and our conversation confirmed that I’m not alone in my suspicions that there may be a correlation between allergy prone dogs and mast cell tumors.  


That Hudson is my third son with cancer, I always feel I’m so far behind no matter how far I walk.  

  

Twelve days til touchdown in San Diego.  We made it to LA and ironically, we’ve had only four rains days the entire West Coast walk, through Washington, Oregon, and Northern California and the week we arrive in LA, we’re greeted by a monsoon.  
Completely drenched in Malibu and now navigating around mudslides and flooding, we’re making our way through the 75 mile swath that is the LA area.  
Still, we’ve been trudging onward in the dreary drizzly, record breaking rainstorm sharing the message and spreading holiday cheer, the nearby pic was walking on Rodeo Drive, 
We’re on schedule to walk the final mile to the Mexico border Sunday December 14th and our friends are making final plans for the day’s events.  Between now and then we have a couple of events planned leading up to the final mile:  
Saturday Dec 6th.  4-6PM.  The Shore Break Hotel. For details, 714-465-4528.  
Tuesday Dec 9th. 2-4PM. VMSG. 31896 Plaza Dr. San Juan Capistrano.  
It’s been great having folks coming out and walking with us on our final stretch. To find out where you can join us for a mile or a day on our historic trek, the following sites will be posting our locations: 
www.facebook.com/PuppyUpFoundation
www.2dogsAgainstCancer.com
Or on my Instagram – 2dogs2000miles.  And on Twitter hashtag #GoFuzzybuttsGo
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

I’ve got one more night in this hotel until we start the next leg of the journey to 20 and up into the mountains and my thoughts return to High Street.

I almost got hit by oncoming traffic like a half dozen times and I do not exaggerate here.  I took this photo of a warning sign about falling rocks and I was like, screw that, beware of the rocks in the heads of the drivers coming down this mountain.

There was one driver who came around a hairpin curve texting and she came within inches of hitting me.  And I swore to the top of my lungs at her.  And then came the voice from up high.  

——–

‘Hello’  

Shaking, almost pasted against a rock wall in hesitation to continue up this mountain, I looked up and there was this old guy calling out to us.  ‘I saw you on TV’, he said.  ‘I was worried about the dogs’.

‘You and me both’ I thought to myself unsure how to respond or what to say to this godlike figure although his Lebowski-esque attire didn’t fit the whole supreme being image in my head.

‘Is it always this bad on this road?’ I inquired hoping for a hail mary.

‘Yep’.

——–

Don’t Should Me

‘You should’ve taken 7th Street’, he answered.  I’m a poker player and there’s always a 4th and 5th street bet that you called or should have laid it down but when you’re in a hand, you’re down in it.   And that’s where we were.

Ginger Morgan, the Director of our foundation, taught me that lesson.  There is no ‘should’ in life.  And I thought about that after almost getting killed on High Street.

I thought alot about why.  Why put myself and moreover and more importantly the lives of my boys at risk?

——–

‘Do you need help?’

The old man asked me. ‘No I don’t’, I replied.  And I lead my boys up to the top of the mountain unscathed and untouched.

This week has seen the third anniversary of Murphy’s passing and Indiana’s 3rd birthday and to me, the two are inextricably intertwined. And this photo captures it.  
On Instagram I entitled it ‘Between a Rock and a Jersey Wall’ but there’s greater context to it.  
——–
Indy the Scrabbler

Didn’t have a good feeling of 99E south of Oregon City so I chose to take Google Maps alternative route High street and after scrutinizing it on my iPhone it looked suitable.  So we took the Promenade Park and were greeted with sweeping views of the Willamette River (don’t even try pronouncing it).  

I should’ve known that just like Long Island was, well, long, High street was high and that miscalculation by me nearly cost us our lives.  
Don’t have time for the details of the harrowing experience but we made it to the top and in no small part to Indiana who, like Murphy would’ve, lead the way behind me with Hudson willfully following.  
——–
Murphy Smiles
Still.  In each of us.  
In one of my training blogs I wrote about how I suspected that I’d have to keep up with Lil’ Nana on this walk and he has not disappointed.  I see so much of Murphy in him.  
The good, the bad, and the fuzzybutt.  
That’s the birthday boy with Vince and Diane and their gal Lucy.