Austin man walking down coast with dogs to raise funds for cancer research
Luke Robinson met up with C. Ivan Stoltzfus at the KOA campground just outside Crescent City this weekend. But while Stoltzfus had completed his cross-country trek by tractor on Saturday (see story on Page A1), Robinson was more than 800 miles away from finishing his journey.
Robinson and his two great Pyrenees, 8-year-old Hudson and and 3-year-old Indiana Jones, have spent the past three months hoofing it from Peace Arch Park at the Canadian border through Washington and Oregon.
They crossed the California state line on Thursday, but because of sore paws Robinson decided Sunday to send Hudson back home.
Robinson and Indiana Jones will continue on, hopefully making it to the Mexican border by Christmas. Robinson estimated the distance at about 1,700 miles.
Robinson, who is originally from the Austin area in Texas, said this is his second cross-country trek with the PuppyUp Foundation, which seeks to raise awareness of the link between canine cancer and cancer in humans.
"We fund studies that are called comparative oncology (studies)," he said. "Basically, we look at cancer in the dog model to give us insight into cancer in people. Our funds, our research benefits both pets and people."
In 2008 Robinson, Hudson and another dog named Murphy walked from Austin to Boston, a distance of about 2,300 miles. He started the PuppyUp Foundation, originally called the 2 Million Dogs Foundation, in 2010.
Since then, Robinson said the foundation has funded nearly $250,000 in cancer studies from such places as the Brode Institute in Massachusetts, the Animal Medical Center in New York, the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University.
"They took shelter dogs with breast cancer and UPenn paid for the cost of care (and) the cost for finding an adopted home," Robinson said. "Princeton took (the) tumors to look for genetic insight into how breast cancer spreads in women. Those are the types of studies that we fund."
During his previous journey, it took Robinson about two years to cover the distance, he said. But he also participated in numerous events and spent time in a lot of cities. For this journey, he is spending less time on events and staying with fewer people, he said.
So far, their trek has taken them from four-lane freeways with no shoulders to windy roads with nothing between traffic and a drop along the coastline.
Robinson has also had to deal with texting drivers and others who aren't paying attention.
"Having done 2,300 miles before and having gone through Washington and Oregon, I'm pretty road-tested, and a lot of my job on a daily basis is anticipation," he said.
The amount of attention Robinson and his dogs attract on their trip has also been mixed.
"Washington was a big disappointment," he said. "Not a single person stopped or asked us what we were doing or stopped to see what kind of dogs (they were) or offer water or shelter or anything."
But when he entered Oregon, Robinson said, the people were wonderful, especially on the coast.
"We had a lot of people that would just give us a place to pitch a tent at night and take us to the grocery store and sometimes cook dinner for us," he said. "Backpacking along the coast has been just a tremendous experience."
Reach Jessica Cejnar at firstname.lastname@example.org.