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PuppyUp Foundation Comes to Houston

Cancer Heroes Shelley Piper and Honey.

Cancer Heroes Shelley Piper and Honey. “Photo by Nature Dog Photography”

Its First Annual Walk To Raise Awareness And Funds
For Cancer In Animals And Humans Is Feb. 18

After losing his Great Pyrenees, Malcolm, to bone cancer in 2004, Luke Robinson became grief stricken and extremely angry. As he looked for answers, no one could answer the question why. “I didn’t even know dogs got cancer,” Robinson said.

In 2008, Robinson sold his truck, stowed all his belongings, and set out on a cross-country walk from Austin to Boston with his two Great Pyrenees, Hudson and Murphy. Walking from town to town across 16 states sharing his story about Malcolm, the companion he lost to cancer, he and his dogs braved gale-force winds, sleet, snow, torrential rain, tornadoes, sweltering temperatures, black bears, brown recluse spiders, inhospitable wildlife and the occasional unfriendly person, all for the love of a dog. With starts and stops along the way, the journey lasted more than two years.

“Somewhere on the cross-country walk, I had this vision of starting a grassroots movement to have walks all across the country,” stated Robinson. After the walk ended, The PuppyUp Foundation was founded with the hope that others would join him on his mission by forming walks across the country or participating in walks to raise awareness and money to fund research to wipe out cancer.

Kimmey Piper is joining the PuppyUp Foundation’s search for answers by organizing the first annual PuppyUp Houston Walk on Feb. 18, 2017, at Rob Fleming Park, located at 6055 Creekside Forest Drive in The Woodlands. Onsite registration will begin at noon, and the Walk will start at 2 p.m. Piper is planning a vendor village, entertainment and more. There will be a Memorial Wall where people are encouraged to bring pictures of their loved ones to honor those fighting and to remember those who have lost their battle. Online registration is now open.

For each PuppyUp Walk, the event manager and his or her Walk Team select both a Human Cancer Hero and a Canine Cancer Hero, to be honored during the Walk ceremonies. These heroes are chosen because of their exemplary attitude towards their particular type of cancer, showing bravery and hopefulness in their fight. Representing the Houston PuppyUp Walk are Shelley Piper and Honey, who is a Boxer/Lab rescue.

“What draws me to the Foundation is its commitment to comparative oncology. I personally have not lost a dog to cancer; however, I lost my Aunt Kathy to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, as well as witnessed many other relatives and friends battle this horrible disease. I want to do everything in my power to avoid losing another loved one to cancer…human or canine,” Piper said. She is looking forward to making the PuppyUp Houston Walk a Texas-sized success. Email her at Kimmey@puppyup.org if you would like additional information or to volunteer.

The PuppyUp Foundation is no stranger to the Houston area. Last year it agreed to fund a $100,000 study at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. This funding will be used to study NK Cell Therapy for dogs with bone cancer.

“Natural killer cell immunotherapy uses a subset of the dog’s own immune system that is highly effective at killing cancer,” stated Jennifer Foltz, graduate research assistant. “Since human and canine bone cancer are extremely similar, these studies will be used to improve natural killer cell therapy for human bone cancer as well.”

The PuppyUp Foundation has also funded an additional $500,000 in research in the areas of osteosarcoma, breast and bladder cancer, as well as mast cell tumors.  Recipients of its grants include Princeton with University of Pennsylvania, MIT and Harvard’s Broad Institute, Animal Medical Center with Sloan Kettering, The University of Wisconsin, and Purdue University.

“Cancer affects one in every three dogs, and 50 percent of all dogs over the age of 10 will be diagnosed with cancer,” according to Ginger Morgan, executive director of PuppyUp Foundation.

Early detection is the key to dogs living longer healthier lives. Below are many of the warning signs of cancer:

Foul odor. While “dog breath” is common, if you notice unusually foul odors coming from the mouth, nose or rectal area, it may be due to a tumor.

Lumps or bumps. Get into the habit of checking your pet’s skin monthly. Don’t forget to check behind ears, around the face and tail. If the bump is larger than a pea, you should visit your veterinarian.

Weight Loss. Your pet’s weight should remain consistent. Sudden weight loss is a cause for concern.

Loss of appetite. If your dog has lost interest in meal times, illness is likely the cause. Many health conditions cause appetite loss.

Lethargy. Learn to tell the difference between a lazy dog and a lethargic one. If he is spending more time sleeping, talk to your veterinarian.

Labored Breathing. Dogs can get lung cancer, and some indicators are coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath.

Lesions. If your dog has an open sore or other wounds that aren’t healing properly, it could be because of a larger medical issue.

Visit puppyup.org for more information and to register for the PuppyUp Houston Walk on Feb. 18.

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