Because their dogs are like family, many of those who participated in Sunday's Puppy Up! Walk, a two-mile walk from the American Legion to Lee Richardson Zoo, did so as either a tribute to or celebration of their own dog's battle with canine cancer.
Darlene Patrick, Ulysses, who had her 5-year-old German Shepherd-mix, Gus, in tow, said she brought him on the walk as a way of celebrating his survival of the disease.
"I wanted to do it for him," she said.
Gus was diagnosed with cancer in January.
"He wasn't acting himself. He was turning down his food, and he's a big food eater. And so he wasn't acting himself, and then we did everything we could, like blood work and then found out from an ultrasound that there was this huge burst tumor on his spleen," Patrick said.
Since his surgery, Gus is cancer-free, she said.
Jeri Schupman, president of the Garden City Kennel Club, who set up an agility course for people to try, said that she is afraid her 7-year-old Australian Shepherd, Toad, may have some kind of oral cancer.
"I thought it was like an abscess or something," she said. "(My vet) hasn't come out and said, but I think he thinks it's cancer. I'm thinking it's probably bad."
Jorinda Juno, who began holding the Puppy Up! Walk event in Garden City last year, said it is her own experience with canine cancer that prompted her to begin hosting the event.
"Sage is the one that died two years ago of bone cancer. She's the one who got me started in this," Juno said.
Sage was a Rottweiler, as is Juno's 5-year-old dog, Vida, who recently was diagnosed with cancer.
"She has a melanoma on her right eye. She's been to K-State. They've taken it off but couldn't get all of it," she said, adding that the cancer hadn't metastasized. "I think they were frustrated that they couldn't get it all, so they froze it and told me just to watch her."
Juno said that Vida presently is doing fine.
The purpose of the Puppy Up! Walk events, which are held across the country through the nonprofit 2 Million Dogs, is to raise funds for canine cancer awareness and research. Luke Robinson of San Antonio, Texas, founded 2 Million Dogs after his Great Pyrenees, Malcolm, died of cancer. To ease the pain of his loss, Robinson took his other two dogs, Hudson and Murphy, on a walk from Austin, Texas, to Boston, sharing Malcolm's story and educating people about canine cancer. As they made their way across the country, Robinson decided that if two dogs could walk more than 2,000 miles, then two million dogs could walk two miles.
That is how the Puppy Up! Walk came into being. Registration for the walk was $20 if done online and $25 at the door on Sunday. All of the proceeds from the registration fees and silent auction items will go to canine cancer research.
According to www.2milliondogs.org, its mission is to discover the common links between canine and human cancers and causes of these cancers through comparative oncology research.
During the local event, which ran from noon to 4 p.m., the Garden City Kennel Club provided an agility course for people to run their dogs through.
Andi Ogles, 14, of Cimarron ran her Australian shepherd, Misty, through the course.
"I started in second grade with a dog we had at home, and then when I was in fourth grade, I got her," Ogles said, adding that she trains Misty as part of 4-H.
Juno said that approximately 25 people and 17 dogs took part in the walk.