You’ve probably noticed the pretty blue posters with the paw print around town, at your local veterinarian’s clinic or in your Instagram feed. But you may not know much about The Puppy Up! Foundation. I know I was curious what it was all about.
Updated: In 2019, PuppyUp Nashville will be held at:
Global K9 Protection Services Property
1836 Old Natchez Trace
Franklin, TN 37069
Sunday, May 5th
12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
September 29, 2018
This is definitely an organization you’ll want to be familiar with, for your health and the health of those you love – including your dog.
Cancer. Touches. Everyone.
I recently spoke with Karen Clemente, the powerhouse organizing The PuppyUp Nashville Walk. As an avid pet lover and former professional pet photographer, Karen has been blessed with healthy dogs. But like the majority of us, she has faced the loss of several family members to cancer.
“It is incredibly important to our Foundation to educate pet parents about cancer in companion animals and what the early warning signs are,” Karen says. “Our Founder, Luke Robinson is an amazing storyteller.”
And what is the story Luke wants to tell?
You might have seen Luke’s story on different news channels like People.com, The Today Show or Animal Planet. Luke was devastated when his dog, Malcolm, was diagnosed and passed way from metastatic bone cancer in 2006. That frustration was channeled into action as he and his two other dogs, Murphy and Hudson, hit the road to walk over 2,000 miles across the nation to bring awareness, education and raise funds to research cancer in pets and people.
But that was not the end of it.
At the completion of the walk in Boston, 2 Million Dogs (now known as The Puppy Up Foundation) was born, an organization whose mission is to “discover the common link between human and canine cancers and the cause through comparative oncology research.” Shortly thereafter, Murphy who had just finished the Walk from Austin to Boston was also diagnosed with cancer.
Comparative research is fairly new. It looks for the common denominator between human and canine cancers. Amy K. LeBlanc, DVM, director of the NCI’s Comparative Oncology Program explains: “Veterinarians have been drawing parallels between dogs and humans for decades, observing certain clinical patterns as to where tumors grow, how they spread, and how they respond to therapy,” she said. “Our challenge now is to understand the molecular and genetic underpinnings of canine cancer to help understand where they share landscape with human tumors.”
In case you’d like more details into ‘comparative research’ and why it’s especially important in discovering the cause of cancer, check out this link. You can also find out more with the book Heal by Arlene Weintraub. (Go Dog Nashville gets a small percentage if you buy this book through our Amazon page.)
In the years since that first walk, Robinson’s organization has donated $1.2 million towards education, awareness and cancer research. Since Day One, owner education has been a huge part of the mission.
Why is owner education so important?
Just as in human cancer, the earlier you spot potential signs of this disease, the earlier you can begin treatment. Success rates are much higher. Says Dr. Matthew Breen, PhD, CBiol, FRSB of the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences at North Carolina State University (NCSU) College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh : “Dogs generally get about 10 times as much cancer as people do. In this country, it’s estimated that there are about 80 to 85 million pet dogs and about 6 million new diagnoses of cancer every year, so it’s a huge problem.”
But this grass roots movement wasn’t finished yet.
Puppy Up Walks are organized around the country – there have been more than 180 Walks in 30 different states. After a pretty rocky start that forced a cancellation due to severe spring weather, PuppyUp Nashville Walk will take place on Saturday, Oct. 27th from 10:30 am – 3:00pm at Edwin Warner Park, Shelter 11 (rain or shine). This one-mile walk is family and dog-friendly. And dogs are encouraged to attend – the more the merrier!
At the PuppyUp Nashville Walk, you’ll be able to:
- walk to celebrate a cancer survivor’s victory or honor the memory of someone, canine or human, who battled bravely
- You’ll be helping to fund comparative research.
- And you’ll be part of a community of dog owners, enjoying the local sponsor and vendors, listening to some great local acoustic music, and noshing on delicious food.
- You and your canine companion can also participate in a Halloween costume contest with some sweet prizes if you win!
In order to “bring it home” and give all of us a face to the mission, each Puppy Up Walk selects a human and a canine cancer survivor to be the “Cancer Heroes” of the event. Nashville’s Heroes are Kathy von Broembsen and Penny.
Can’t make it to the walk? You can still support The Puppy Up Foundation in more ways than you might think. Visit their website to see all the ways you can make a difference, join in the walk or volunteer your time and talents.
Their website also contains a wealth of information and resources – check it out!
Thanks to The Puppy Up Foundation for use of photos.
Cancer Heroes portrait by Michael J. Patton Pet Photography.