Race #8 – A Race for Canine Cancer

This race honors the memory of Jack, our beloved German Shepherd/Siberian Husky mix, who passed away two weeks ago. Above, we took him to the beach (for the first time) in mid-September, wanting to spend every day possible with him, after he was diagnosed with canine cancer.

Race #8: Gulliver’s Run, a 5K walk/run, held at Gifford Pinchot State Park, York County

The Cause: Canine cancer research and trials at Hope Veterinary, Malvern

I learned about this race about two years ago, when I met the founder John at a local 5K. He ran an amazing race with his dog, so of course I had to ask him about the breed (Hungarian Vizsla). He proceeded to tell me about his former dog Gulliver who passed away from canine cancer and the race he’d founded to honor his memory. I’ve been wanting to do it ever since.

Fast forward to this year, and it was one of the first races I put on my “wish list” of 50 races. All along, I thought it would be fun to bring our family dog Jack. That was the plan.

Jack loved his walks. Although I tried to turn him into a running companion over the years, it wasn’t his thing. He ran good-naturedly with me, but never more than a mile or so.

So we had a run/walk routine: Every time I ran in my neighborhood, 2-4 times a week, I ALWAYS ended my run at the house, came inside for Jack, and took him for a 1-3 mile walk. It was more than my cool-down…it was one of the highlights of my day, and undoubtedly THE highlight of Jack’s day. He was almost always waiting and watching for me in the window, no matter how many miles I ran. He knew the routine!

Another precious shot of Jack taken at sunrise, Bethany Beach, Delaware

As is often the case, life brings unpredictable twists of fate. About two months ago, we discovered that Jack had a tumor growing in between his heart and lungs. He was about 11 years old, and we thought we had many more happy years together. He still loved his daily walks, right up to the end. But dog years never last long enough compared to our human years… He left us on Oct. 19, 2019.

So on Sunday, November 3, my husband & I walked the beautiful 5K trail course of Gulliver’s Run at Gifford Pinchot State Park. I have never seen so many dogs in one place! Although the loss of my best friend tugged at my heartstrings, it was tons of fun to see all breeds of dogs running and walking with their humans.

Race proceeds benefit canine cancer research as well as funding to help dog owners with treatment. Heading into this year’s race, Gulliver’s Run has raised $54,000 since 2013.

National statistics are shocking–one out of every three dogs will develop some type of canine cancer in their lifetime. That breaks my heart.

In memory of Jack, I wore a bracelet given to me by my thoughtful friend Stacy, a fellow dog owner. The beads symbolize the “rainbow bridge” where our pets wait for us in heaven, plus a heart bead, a paw-shaped bead, and black lava beads which signify our time spent together on this earth. The love and thoughtfulness of friends sustains us when our pets leave.

Fellow dog owners are some of the nicest, kindest people in the universe. And when a few hundred dog lovers gather for an event, the spirit and camaraderie is off the charts.

Lots of fun prizes and raffles, plus lunch and photos, were part of the post-race festivities. To our surprise, my husband won 1st place for his age group in the walking division! We walked together, but I guess there were some 50-year old women who walked faster than me, so I did not take home any hardware today. LOL

Paw-shaped medal!

But we took some great memories home, and we cherish the memories of all of our well-loved pets including Jack. May we continue to research and help all dogs who suffer from cancer while still loving us with their incredible loyalty.

All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human. He wasn’t a dog.

Charles M Schulz


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