I come to you slightly abashed to ask, but determined to do what I can to keep our dogs and family members alive a little longer. This is the third year in a row I have raised money for Puppy Up! (formerly called the “2 million dogs” campaign), which raises money targeted to cure cancers found in both people and dogs. Our group (Pet Pals) and our town (Madison) has kicked butt, I say with unabashed pride. Our local program brought in $86,000, a record-setting amount. In May, 2015, our second walk raised yet another record setting $128,000. What’s even better: We know exactly where the Puppy Up money goes. For example, the Puppy Up Foundation awarded $96,000 to the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of stereotactic radiation for dogs with bone cancer (osteosarcoma, a cancer that affects dogs and children). Over $100,000 was granted to The University of Texas & UC Davis to study immunotherapy using a dog’s own immune system to fight cancer.
Blog readers have been instrumental in helping to support this cause, and for that, I am extremely grateful. And so I come to you again, paw raised, head cocked, in hopes that you will consider joining me in this very good fight. There is so much going on in the world that we have little control over–a fact that many of us find deeply disturbing. Frankly, I find it a relief to do something that I know will make a difference. We can fight the good fight together and know that our actions really mean something. Whew.
I began writing this blog thinking I’d write a completely new post, but then decided to add on what I’d written in 2014. I hope you will pardon the repetition, but I just don’t know how to express my love for my dogs any better than I have here. Besides, I can’t resist looking at Tu Tu’s shining face again. I still miss her so much.
Here’s what I wrote in March of 2014:
For almost twelve years, my Great Pyrenees Tulip was the farm’s jokester, a shiny-eyed, smiley-faced cross between an oversized seal pup and a benevolent polar bear. For twelve years she multi-tasked as the farm’s protector and its own personal stand up comedian. She died in my arms several years ago, and is buried just a few feet from the front porch, where she used to stand and bark at the coyotes who yip-howled their way down a ravine toward my young lambs. No coyote, or canid of any kind, ever bothered our sheep when Tulip was alive, yet she loved everyone equally, dogs and people alike, unless they appeared to be a threat.
Once I was awoken at 2 AM by hushed and hurried voices coming from my front yard. Alone that night, I peered out the window to see three shadowy figures moving around behind the spruce tree that anchors the yard. One of them darted out of the gloom and began to run–and I mean run–toward me and the house. I took Tulip by the collar, all 100+ pounds of her, and walked onto the porch. Tulip was barking as only a huge dog can; deep, thundering WOOF WOOF WOOFs coursing through the air as I said “Stop right there! I’ll let the dog loose if you don’t.” Of course, I knew that Tulip was most likely to run up and lick his face if I let her go, but my “visitor” didn’t. He stopped in his tracks and said “Oh gosh, sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. But my motorcycle broke down and I wanted to know if I could leave it here until morning.” His words weren’t quite so, uh, clear, being influenced by something I’d guess was at least 40 proof. “Uh, sure, no problem,” I said. I might have mentioned that it would have been more polite to just leave it there and not wake me up in the middle of the night, but he left and I went back in the house and sat down with Tulip and took her head in my hands and thanked her for being there for me. Having her stand there beside me that night made all the difference in the world.
Here is a difference I would like to make in her name. I’ve joined the Puppy Up! campaign to help raise funds to combat cancer in dogs. It was started by Luke Robinson, who lost one of his beloved Great Pyrenees to cancer, and committed to walking his two remaining Pyrs 2,000 miles to raise money to fight cancer. (My second Great Pyrenees, Tulip, didn’t die of cancer, but my first Pyr did (Bo Peep), as did my Border Collies Misty and Lassie.) That evolved into the 2 million dogs project, which evolved into Puppy Up! The rest is history, and what an impressive one it is.
So I’m in. I’ll be walking with friends (many from the UW Vet School Pet Pals program) in Madison on May 4th. Everyone who registers commits to raising a certain amount of money. I’ve set my goal at $3,000, but would love to do better than that. If you are so inclined, you can CONTRIBUTE HERE. (Was that subtle enough?) Be sure to name someone you’d like it in memory of, if you so desire. I love reading the memorials, they make me all wooshy.
Whether you can afford to join in or not, I’ll love hearing memorials to one of your special dogs. Here is my Tulip, in a photo taken by one of our country’s best dog photographers, Amanda Jones.
Here is our last photograph of Tulip, resting in her grave, covered with the tulips that friends spontaneously brought to the celebration of her life, a few hours before we sent her over the bridge. She is resting in peace, but I’ll be joining millions of people and dogs all around the country, in an effort to keep our beloved dogs alive, just a little longer.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Here is last Saturday’s weather report: Snow, followed by sun, followed by a blizzard (horizontal snow, 30+ mph winds), followed by sun, followed by hail, followed by sun, followed by sleet, followed by sun, followed by the exhausted sun finally disappearing beyond the horizon, no doubt disgusted by Wisconsin’s weather in early April.
It was so crazy that it was laughable. On Sunday a friend and I drove to work with Gordon Watt, a world class sheepdog handler/trainer. It was brutally cold, 35 degrees F and very windy. Later that day it was sunny and 74. As I said when I spoke at a Veterinary Conference in Madison, “Welcome to winter/spring/summer/fall”. But it was great to have another chance to work Maggie under Gordon’s wise eye. (Poor Willie is recovering from a minor injury, probably an iliopsoas strain. I think he’ll be fine soon.)
Here’s Miss Maggie Mae (her list of nicknames is growing) focusing in on the flock, about to move forward closer:
And here’s Mr. William, highlighted by the hardy crocus who have endured a ridiculous amount of bad weather in the last two days. It’s cold and cloudy today though, so I don’t have a shot of them in full bloom, but you can still see how lovely it is to add color to the ground this time of year.