Like so many people, Luke Robinson has been touched by cancer more times than he would care to remember.
In 2008, after his dog Malcolm died of metastatic bone cancer, the former businessman and his two other pups, Murphy and Hudson, embarked on a 2,300-mile journey that took them two years and helped raise funds and awareness for canine cancer. When they arrived in Boston from Austin on their final mile of the trek, Robinson noticed Murphy had a snotty nose.
“We just thought, ‘Well, it’s been a long journey,’” he tells PEOPLE. Sadly, it was a sign of something much more serious.
Within a few weeks, Murphy was diagnosed with nasal cancer – and his tumor had already grown so large that it was deemed inoperable. He passed on June 22, 2011. “When Malcolm was first diagnosed it just changed me and I knew that my life would never be the same,” Robinson says. “After the loss of Murphy, we just felt like we needed to get back on the road to continue our mission of education and awareness.”
On Saturday, May 10, Robinson is once again hitting the road, taking Pyrenees Hudson and Indiana on a walk down the West Coast to honor their fallen furry friend. This time, he hopes to bring even more awareness to canine cancers, which affect between 4 and 8 million companion animals each year.
Robinson, 43, who founded the organization 2 Million Dogs (dedicated to finding common links between canine and human cancers) will walk about 1,800 miles from Vancouver to San Diego with nothing more than whatever he and his dogs can fit in their backpacks.
They’re hoping to clock 12 to 14 miles a day – about 80 miles each week – and plan to arrive in San Diego during the first week of November. They’ll be staying at the homes of supporters and pitching their tent up along the way. “There’s no more special place in our universe than our tent late at night after a good day’s haul,” Robinson says. “Once the sun sets and I’ve fed them, we’re at that great, glorious place.”
The dogs, says Robinson, are ready. “Hudson is already road tested,” he says, referring to his first walk from Austin to Boston. “Indy our newer one, he’s a road warrior. Indy will have no problem. He’ll tire me out at the end of the day. My job is to get my boys from point A to point B safely and securely.”
If you’re interested in walking with the trio for a day, or a week, click here to learn more. To schedule a day to visit Robinson and his dogs on the road (or deliver dog treats in person!), email Ginger Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.