2 Million Dogs – The Blog

Cancer. Touches. Everyone.

2 Million Dogs founder visits Denison, Texas

Posted by Erich Trapp on September 15, 2012

Jeri Waterloo, Luke Robinson, and Pamela Pyle.

As part of the Summer of Murphy Tour, Luke, Hudson, and Indiana were recently in Denison, Texas.

Here’s the article, written by Lynette George and published Friday, September 14, 2012 from the Herald Democrat.

When his beloved Great Pyrenees dog, Malcolm, was diagnosed with and died from cancer, Texas native Luke Robinson knew his life was changed forever.  He discussed that tremendous change recently when he visited Denison in support of the Puppy Up! fundraiser to be held Nov. 4 at Waterloo Lake Park.

Puppy Up events are held throughout the nation in support of Robinson’s non-profit 2 Million Dogs program.  The program was created in 2010, specifically to help fund comparative oncology research which focuses on finding the common links between canine and human cancers and their causes.  2 Million Dogs has already provided $50,000 for a study at Princeton University.  The study involved comparing cancerous mammary glands in dogs and those in women.  An upcoming study to be aided by 2 Million Dogs will involve comparative oncology studies which will be a collaborative effort between Harvard, MIT, Mass General and Dana Farber Cancer Institute.  Robinson says the hope in the relatively new world of comparative oncology is to find genetic markers between canine and human cancers which can lead to finding and possibly eliminating the causes of both, as well as finding cures.

“It’s like we are going on a fishing expedition,” says Robinson.  “If we fund enough of these comparative studies, we will find that big fish … I truly believe dogs hold the key to curing cancer in humans.”

Robinson continues, “Cancer is cancer.  It touches everyone.  Under a microscope, cancer looks the same whether it’s from a dog or a human.”

The determined Texan got the idea for 2 Million Dogs after making his own 2,000 mile trek across the country with his dogs to raise awareness of canine cancer.  It was an unexpected turn of events in Robinson’s life.

He earned his bachelor of business administration degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio.  While still an undergraduate, Robinson began a management consulting company, later honored with the prestigious “40 Under 40” Award by the San Antonio Business Journal in 2002.  He moved himself, his two Great Pyrenees dogs Malcolm and Murphy, and his company to Boston, Massachusetts in 2003.  The next year, Malcolm was diagnosed with cancer and lost the battle two years later in 2006.  It was during that time that Robinson began an educational journey to learn about canine cancer.  He discovered that cancer is the number one natural cause of death in dogs over the age of 2, and that dogs and humans get the same types of cancer.  He also learned that studying existing cancers in dogs can lead to developing better treatments for dogs and for humans, and that comparative oncology studies can help reduce the treatment costs associated with canine and human cancers.

In 2008, Robinson sold most of his belongings.  He, Murphy and his new Great Pyrenees puppy Hudson, would walk from Austin to Boston in an effort to raise awareness of the similarities between canine and human cancers and to promote comparative oncology research.  The walk lasted more than two years, the threesome carrying all their necessities in back packs, camping in a pup tent, and telling Malcolm’s story to anyone who would listen.  Along the way, Robinson also helped at animal shelters, met with veterinarians, and he was the topic of many publications and interviews.  He appeared with his two dogs on Dogs 101 on the Animal Planet in 2010, and was named one of the “Top Ten Not So Ordinary Pet People of the Year” in 2009.  He was also awarded the 2010 Humanitarian Awareness Award from Fetch a Cure and received the 2010 Caninatarian Award from the Association of Pet Dog Trainers in Atlanta, Georgia.  The walk resulted in the formation of 2 Dogs 2000 Miles.

“When I left Austin, I had maybe a couple of hundred bucks in my pocket,” remembers Robinson.  “Just when I’d be down to my last few dollars, somebody would always give me a $20 or something … The generosity of people’s hearts is amazing.”

At the end of the 826-day walk on June 19, 2010, Robinson was so encouraged that he came up with another plan.  If he and his two canine companions could walk 2,000 miles promoting cancer awareness, then why not have two million dogs walk two miles to continue the mission?  2 Million Dogs was born.  The urgency of raising public awareness was increased for Robinson about that same time when Murphy was diagnosed with cancer.  The faithful dog died in June of 2011.

To get the public involved, Robinson, in 2010, began Puppy Up! walks, not just to raise funds for comparative oncology studies, but to educate the public.  In November of 2010, the first Puppy Up! walks wer held in 12 cities across the nation.  In 2011, more than 25 cities, including Denison, hosted Puppy Up!, raising a total of almost $150,000.  This fall, nearly 40 cities nationwide, including Denison, are taking part.  It’s not as many as Robinson had hoped, but that doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm for the cause.

“I’m from Texas and we dream big down here,” says Robinson.  “I have a dream and it’s great to see it unfolding.  I just wish it would be unfolding a little faster … I’m an ambitious person and I had hoped we’d be having 500 walks across the country by now, but it hasn’t happened yet.”

Though Robinson’s continuing journey isn’t all tail-wagging good times, he continues on.

“It’s sometimes frustrating … My whole life is cancer.  People send me messages every day about their dogs having cancer … My life is already filled with tragedy … How can I just set on my laurels?”

Denison was Robinson’s second stop on his visit to 23 Puppy Up! locations throughout the nation.  He and his small crew, only one of whom receives a salary, were feted with a meet-and-greet at the Hickory House Restaurant upon their arrival Sept. 7, followed by a gathering in Sherman later that evening.  Robinson and his two canine companions, lovingly referred to as the “fuzzybutts,” also led the Bark & Paw Parade on Sept. 8.

 

UPCOMING — Denison’s Puppy Up! Walk takes place on Nov. 4 at Waterloo Park.

In addition to the Walk, the Denison Puppy Up! event will feature a pet adoption fair, live music, vendors, food, prizes and more.  For details, call 903-327-3081.

If you’re in Facebook, you can keep up with news of the Puppy Up! Walk in Denison here.

Special thanks to Jeri Waterloo and Pamela Pyle for their continued hard work!

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