Puppies and Cancer Prevention

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We got a new puppy after Christmas. It’s the first dog for our family – and my first ever – so the last six weeks have been a steep learning curve. Like a diligent student I had done my reading and thought I knew what we were letting ourselves in for – but of course the reality has been somewhat more demanding.

What does our new puppy have to do with Cancer Prevention Month?

In all my reading I had not paid any attention to his exercise needs, thinking that would be delegated to my teenage daughter. But surprisingly, the favorite part of my day now is when my daughter and I walk our puppy every evening.

This last walk of the day is critical for our dog to settle for the night, and slowly but surely it is becoming an important ritual for me and my daughter. We walk and talk to each other and the dog; we climb hills I would avoid by myself and find ourselves staying out longer each evening.

We talk a lot about the benefits of physical activity in lowering cancer risk here at AICR, and I already try to fit in 30 minutes a day at least 4 days a week. If you had asked me before Christmas if I had time to do more, I would have said no.

our new puppy Jackson

Like everyone else I have a busy life with work, family and a never ending to-do list. But it turns out, I did and do have the time. It has actually been relatively easy to develop my new walking habit – in part because I love spending time with my daughter and new pet.

All this has got me thinking about our Cancer Prevention Month campaign. We devote February to helping individuals learn more about how they can reduce their own cancer risk by implementing small, healthy changes in their daily life – like taking an evening walk! Changing your whole lifestyle is daunting and unrealistic, but doing one new thing doesn’t have to be, especially if it is something, or with someone, you enjoy.

Of course, you don’t have to get a puppy to make this happen, but I have another offer for you. Please download our new 30-day checklist here and join us each day during February as we highlight one activity that might pay bigger dividends than you imagine.


Author: Deirdre

Deirdre McGinley-Gieser is AICR's Senior Vice President for Programs. You can follow her on Twitter @DMG_AICR.

One thought on “Puppies and Cancer Prevention”

  1. Deirdre, Thanks so much for sharing your story. It made me smile as I’ve had a similar experience. I had decided to get a new puppy for my 2 young boys for Christmas last year. It had been 3 years since Harley, our family dog had passed. I had been through a challenging year having discovered I had breast cancer, and it seemed a good time to bring a little extra joy into our lives. I was finishing 6 months of treatment for breast cancer which included surgery, chemo and radiation and was drained and physically weakened by the process. With the help of my amazing sister and parents, Santa brought us an adorable hound puppy from a rescue organization that Christmas, and the boys were overjoyed. We appropriately named her ‘Ruckus’. I was struggling to regain my strength and mobility at the time, and within a few weeks of taking care of the needs of a puppy I thought, oh my gosh, what have I done! It was all I could do to get out to walk her, and keep up with her – it was like having a toddler in the house again:). But each day we walked her, the boys and I, as they learned to take care of her, I got a little stronger. So did she as she grew and grew, and so we walked more and more, and that time with my children, and Ruckus, walking through our neighborhood and talking , has become precious time together. It’s no longer hard for me to keep up with the excercise I know I need to stay cancer free. And while some days I wondered if we could keep Ruckus, I know she has been a wonderful blessing delivered at just the right time in our lives, and is wonderful addition to our family.

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