Kottmeier is greeted by Indiana, one of two Great
Pyrenees dogs owned by Luke Robinson, of the
"2 Million Dog" crusade, who spoke to
dog owners at FYDO Land in Elgin, Illinois about
links between human and pet cancer.
ó When his beloved Great Pyrenees dog Malcolm died
from bone cancer in 2004, Luke Robinson was sad and
to his loss: Nobody could tell him why.
didnít even know dogs could get cancer," Robinson
in 2008, Robinson and two of his other dogs, Murphy and
Hudson, walked from his home in Texas to Boston to raise
awareness about cancer in pets and links to human
cancers as well. With stops and starts along the way,
and Robinson and the dogs camping or staying with host
families, the journey lasted more than two years.
on the cross-country walk I had this dream, this vision
of taking the two dogs, walking 2,000 miles and making
that into 2 million dogs," he said.
so his lifeís mission was conceived. After the walk
ended, the not-for-profit 2 Million Dogs was founded
with the hope that eventually that number of canines and
their owners will participate in walks to raise
awareness and money to fund research to eradicate cancer
from pets and people.
share no direct genetic link with dogs, yet each dies
from the same types of cancers in astronomical numbers,
Murphy was diagnosed with nasal cancer less than a month
after arriving in Boston. He died a year and three days
Murphy further strengthened his resolve.
think dogs are the canary in the coal mine," he
said. "I think that they hold the answer. They
drink the same water we do, are exposed to the same air,
environmental toxins. I canít help to think since we
donít share a genetic link, there must be something in
the cancers we get, they are getting too," he said.
"And that is strange. Ö We share no evolutionary
line with dogs. We donít come from dogs and dogs donít
come from us."
recently visited the Chicago area with Hudson and Indy,
his newest "fuzzybutt," on what he named the
"Summer of Murphy Tour," a cross-country
journey in his van that he began in September.
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Massey, owner of FYDO Land, dog day cares in Elgin and
Huntley, said she was so moved by the mission at an
event she attended last summer she became a co-chair of
the local group.
being in the business Iím in, I have lost a lot of
four-legged friends to cancer," she said. "Itís
not only about fighting cancer in canines, but about
fighting cancer in everybody. Itís an all inclusive
2010, through events called Puppy-Up walks, 2 Million
Dogs has raised $270,000, said Karyn Vasquez, a dog
lover and member of the board of directors of the
organization. About a third of the money goes to
research, with the rest going toward education and
me, just letting people know that our companion animals
really do get cancer is a huge step in the right
direction," said Vasquez, who lost her own dog,
Chelios, to lymphoma on New Yearís Day 2010.
year the organization presented a $50,000 grant to
Princeton University to fund the schoolís study of
canine mammary tumor development and progression.
tumors are the most common tumors in intact female
dogs," she said. "In humans, breast cancer is
the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. Mammary
tumors in dogs and breast cancer in women have many
similarities, both in terms of risk factors and
in the mission has grown.
2010 there were Puppy-Up walks in 12 cities across the
United States. In 2011, there were walks in 27 cities,
and this year there are about 32. So far, about 3,000
dogs and their owners have participated, said Ginger
Morgan, executive director of 2 Million Dogs.
are still looking for many dogs and their owners to help
us in our fight against cancer," Morgan said.
"When we hit 2 million dogs, we will still continue
walking. Weíll walk until we find a cure, until we can
find out what is causing cancer and how we can prevent
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Neal, of Aurora, Ill., also believes that cancers, as
well as other ailments, in both humans and canines are
caused by the environment we live in, the food we eat,
the water we drink and the air we breathe.
owns Cadence, an 8-year-old standard poodle, who last
year received treatment for osteosarcoma, a malignant
bone cancer. After undergoing chemotherapy, the
amputation of her right back leg, a switch to a raw food
diet and a daily cocktail of herbal supplements, Cadence
is doing much better and today is cancer-free.
is vibrant, full of life, energetic," Neal said.
"Being on three legs has not stopped her at all.
She is like a tornado."
believes humans have a spiritual connection with their
dogs, and that dogs are the key to unlocking the
mysteries of cancer.
are more than just pets to us; they are a family
member," she said. "Letís do what we can to
cure (cancer). It will be good for dogs and human
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Tiffany Leach, a veterinary oncologist who works at
Specialty Vets in Buffalo Grove, Ill., said there are
cancers that behave the same in humans and dogs, and
there are also treatments that work on both human and
example, sarcomas behave the same in children as they do
in dogs, and there are medicines that can be used to
treat both, Leach said.
oncology is so important to us because we can take a lot
of the human cancers and get information to use for dog
cancers," she said.
a resident at Purdue University she worked on a study of
bladder cancer. It was found that the same treatments
used for human bladder cancer were effective when used
to treat bladder cancer in dogs.
also been proved that pediatric osteosarcoma, or bone
cancer, displays the same behaviors in children and
dogs. And doctors are able to use the same treatments as
veterinarians in treating it.
also believes environmental factors play a role in
canine and human cancers. But she also believes certain
breeds tend to be prone to specific cancers. For
example, she said, a Bernese mountain dog is prone to
histiocytic sarcoma, an aggressive cancer that begins in
the muscle tissue.
herself knows firsthand the pain of dealing with cancer
on more than one level. Her grandfather suffered with
prostate cancer, which first led her to studying
oncology along with veterinary medicine.
2005, she was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma, or
kidney cancer. Though she declined to go into detail
about her health, she has gone through treatments and at
least two surgeries, and simply said, "Iím
handling it. Iím still able to go to work and lead a
pretty normal life."
there are her two beloved Irish wolfhounds, which each
have dealt with their own cancers. Gideon, 6, had a
soft-tissue sarcoma. The dog has had surgeries and
radiation and is in remission. Jiggs, 9, was diagnosed
with chondrosarcoma, a type of a bone cartilage tumor.
Jiggs underwent surgery two months ago and seems to be
in remission, she said.
of these situations have confirmed that the profession
she has chosen as her lifeís work is exactly where she
should be. She knows the struggles of cancer. She knows
the heartache of a pet having a life-threatening
disease. So when sitting with a pet owner and telling
them their pet has cancer, she can honestly say she
knows how they feel.
can at least genuinely say, ĎIíve been through this
and I understand,í and you can really mean it on a
level I couldnít have had," she said. "Iíve
been lucky in that respect. Iím an undying optimist. I
like to take the positive out of all of this."
meanwhile, is off to another city. His message is for
all people, those with and without pets, and those who
have or have not been affected by cancer.
are facing natureís perfect enemy," Robinson
said. "No man, woman, child or companion animal is
spared its killing field."