Taking the dog for a worthy walk | Klaas

Bone cancer took Jimmy’s left front leg but not the dog’s zest for life.

Rhonda Geiger knows as much. Her 17-year-old miniature poodle is a survivor.

“He went through five chemotherapy treatments, Geiger said. “He is here with us today.”

Jimmy was one of several “tri-pawd” canine amputees who joined their owners for the inaugural 2 Million Puppy Up! Walk at Auburn’s Roegner Park.

The recent two-mile walk, which raised awareness and money for canine cancer and comparative oncology research, drew an estimated 100 walkers who basked in Sunday morning sunshine.

“It met every expectation,” said Ja Cee Crull, event organizer. “Even the weather cooperated.”

Auburn was one of 12 cities across the country to hold a Puppy Up! walk on Nov. 7, part of a national effort organized by 2 Million Dogs, a non-profit organization committed to discovering the common links between canine and human cancers and the causes of the cancers through comparative oncology research.

Dr. Luminita Sarbu, Ph.D., DVM, smiled as she took in the festivities in south Auburn. Sarbu’s clinic, Veterinary Oncology Center in Renton, was one of the walk’s sponsors.

“It’s wonderful to see a lot of people come out to bring support and awareness (to the cause),” she said. “We want to let people know that there are options … that there is a good quality of life for dogs.

“Everyday advances in veterinary medicine are giving pets and their families the promise of hope.”

Dogs of many breeds, dispositions and descriptions came out for the walk. There was Dakota, a 4-year-old chihuahua, dressed in goggles, a scarf and tiny sneakers, pulling along a stroller occupied by 2-year-old Aiden Selby. There were the friendly boy-girl Boxers, Harry Truman and Abbie, belonging to Andy Jones. And there proudly pranced gentle giant Julian, a 7-month-old, 150-pound English Mastiff leading the way for his owner, Pam Wiltzius.

There also was a group representing tripawds.com – a national support network for owners of three-legged dogs and dogs with cancer.

“It’s very inspirational to see all the support here,” said tripawds.com co-founder Jim Nelson, accompanied by his three-legged German Shepherd, Wyatt, the dot.com’s unofficial mascot. "It's important to get the word out, and it's enlightening to see people show up."

The 2 Million Dogs Foundation was spurred by the story of Luke Robinson, who lost his beloved Great Pyrenees companion, Malcolm, to metastatic bone cancer four years ago.

In 2008, Robinson, along with two of his dogs, walked 2,000 miles, from Austin, Texas, to Boston, fulfilling a promise to Malcolm to raise awareness of canine cancer – one mile, one city, one person at a time. His journey, which took him two years to complete, established a nationwide grassroots movement.

Robinson's vision is for 2,000,000 dogs to walk simultaneously across the country for cancer. The Nov. 7 event attempted to do just that.

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