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News

Dozer’s dogged cancer research run

3/27/14 | By Phil Jacobs

Had an opportunity to interview Rosana Panza, an Ocean Pines resident, and owner of one remarkable dog named Dozer.

Why remarkable?

How many dogs do you know who has a Facebook page? You can like him at Dozer the Dog. He has already over 16,000 likes.

And why shouldn’t he. Dozer, 6, has raised over $40,000 for the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center.

Dozer even has a children’s book soon to be released about his four-legged running ability.

Three years ago this May, Panza left Dozer at the Fulton, Md. home of her brother, Rocco Dorsett. Near the Dorsett home was scheduled the Maryland Half Marathon & 5k run to benefit the Greenebaum Cancer Center.

A storm came along and temporarily knocked out area power. With the power down, the invisible dog fence used to keep Dozer safe at home, also went down.

Dozer ran off the familiar grounds only to run into a half-marathon in progress. Instead of running away from all of the people, he got into the race and followed the runners for miles until he crossed the finish line.

Turns out, it wasn’t until the next day that he was found, safe and sound by Panza.

But when news that he had finished the better part of the half-marathon got around, so did pledges and funds for the Cancer Center. Of course, it was there on YouTube.

While all of this was happening almost three years ago Panza was here in Ocean City, looking for a new place to live, which became Ocean Pines. Her brother, who has a couple of acres in the Howard County area, and his own dog, offered to dog sit for Dozer.

When Panza returned to her brother’s home, she started calling her pet’s name, but for a while couldn’t find her Goldendoodle, which is a mix between a golden retriever and a poodle.

“I quickly sent an email out,” she said. “Someone had seen him cross the half-marathon finish line which was not too far from my brother’s house.”

 Since Dozer crossed the finished line, he’s been back to the race as toy stuffed dogs were handed out to runners and spectators last year. And this year, he will start a children’s run by barking at the starting line.”

Dozer’s story will soon be found on bookstore shelves. It’s called “Dozer’s Run: a True Story of a Dog and His Race,” and is written by author Debbie Levy with Rosana Panza. It is being published by Sleeping Bear Press of Ann Arbor, Mi.  

It will be available on July 1 from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other independent book sellers. The book will be available, however, on Saturday, May 10, the day of the next half marathon.

Those who wish to purchase the book should e-mail Panza at rosanapanza@yahoo.com.

The book, beautifully illustrated by David Opie, starts with thoughts that Dozer was possibly having when he started seeing people run by the yard.

“Follow the leader. But who was the leader? Dozer followed his nose, and smelled . . . a pocket full of gummies, shorts with the scent of strange dog, stinky socks, tangy trail mix, 
sneakers that once stepped in . . . never mind.”

“It’s been a unique journey seeing this book published,” said Panza. “Dozer really has his own book agent. It all came alive because many people were taking video footage of the half-marathon, and Dozer kept showing up in the film.”

The videos show that he ran at least eight miles of the course.

And when the video went viral, funds for cancer research starting to accumulate in Dozer’s name.

“Anything we can do for the community to get the word out about cancer research needs to be done.”

Dozer, meanwhile, was given a medal by the Greenebaum Cancer Center for the good deed he accomplished.

“It’s been an honor to be part of so many amazing people,” said Panza, speaking on behalf of Dozer.

“Life picked out the most perfect dog for this occasion,” she said. “There never could have been a better dog than Dozer.”

The Andrea Brown Literary Agency of Los Angeles agreed whole-heartedly. Panza worked with Jennifer Rofe, a company literary agent, to turn the idea of Dozer’s race into a reality.

This year’s Maryland Half Marathon and 5k to benefit the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center is set for 8 a.m., Saturday, May 10, in Fulton, Md.

The UMGCC is a National Cancer Institute, designated cancer center and ranked in the nation’s top 50 cancer centers by the U.S. News and World Report.

Its Web site to make a contribution in Dozer’s name is www.ummsfoundation.org/dozer

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