Mutt March anniversary to be a treat for dog lovers

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published May 29, 2018

 Judy Murray and her terrier rescue, Archer, will lead the way at this year’s 30th annual Mutt March for the Michigan Humane Society June 3 at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores. Archer was chosen as this year’s grand marshal.

Judy Murray and her terrier rescue, Archer, will lead the way at this year’s 30th annual Mutt March for the Michigan Humane Society June 3 at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores. Archer was chosen as this year’s grand marshal.

Photo by RobinMPhotography, provided by the Michigan Humane Society

GROSSE POINTE SHORES — For participants, it’s a fun morning out for a stroll with their best friends, but for animals in need, the Mutt March is a lifesaver.

A major fundraiser for the Michigan Humane Society, the Mutt March will mark its 30th anniversary this year. The event, which will begin with registration at 8 a.m. followed by a brief presentation and the walk itself at 9 a.m., will take place June 3 on the grounds of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores. Presented by Sellers Subaru, the Mutt March is expected to draw roughly 1,000 participants.

At the front of the line will be this year’s grand marshal, Archer “the Marcher,” a terrier rescue who was adopted last year by MHS volunteer Judy Murray, of Grosse Pointe City. Murray has been volunteering with MHS for almost 15 years, and this will be her 14th Mutt March.

Shaun Bailey, a public relations specialist with MHS, said the Mutt March raised $110,000 last year.

“It’s really important to us,” he said.

Bailey said Archer was chosen as the grand marshal by the event’s planning committee. He said Murray has volunteered for MHS in a variety of different ways, including taking portraits of pets for the MHS website.

Murray said her involvement with MHS started around the time she adopted Alex, a border collie-Australian shepherd mix who died in June 2017.

“He had done 13 Mutt Marches — (he) loved them,” she said of Alex, who was certified as a therapy dog.

After his death, Murray said she knew she wanted to adopt another dog, but probably an adult — not a puppy — and a smaller dog than Alex, who was about 65 pounds. However, Murray hadn’t planned on getting another dog so soon after Alex’s death.

“I wasn’t looking,” she said. “One day, I was doing my rounds (at MHS) and I heard a funny noise.”

Murray said she turned to see what it was, and she spotted Archer.

“We locked eyes,” she said. “I think he got me. It was like Alex had sent him to me.”

For Murray, it was love at first sight. The fact that Archer was considered a “special adoption” because he had a seizure disorder “didn’t deter me at all,” she said, noting that she makes sure he gets the proper medication and she’s learned how to respond to his periodic, but brief, medical episodes. Around Aug. 1, 2017, she took Archer home.

“I guess I needed a dog in my life,” Murray said of Archer, who accompanies her on walks and car rides. “He was so sweet and so cuddly and so snuggly. He needed a home, and I wanted to give him a home. … He’s given me joy.”

Archer, who’s believed to be about 4 or 5 years old, will be taking part in his first Mutt March this year, and Murray believes her friendly pooch will love leading the pack.

“I was not expecting it,” Murray said of learning that Archer had been selected to be the grand marshal. “I truly felt honored that they would ask. I’m not ashamed to admit it — I cried a little bit (because) I was so honored that my little buddy was being recognized.”

Attendees can register in advance or on the day of the Mutt March. There’s no registration fee, although Bailey said those who would like a commemorative T-shirt need to raise at least $25 — which could just be a donation from the participant. Those registering the day of the Mutt March should arrive before 9 a.m., Bailey said.

Don’t have a canine companion? No problem.

“You don’t have to have a dog,” Murray said. “You can walk without a dog.”

All dogs should be on leashes, Bailey said.

The 2.5-mile walk takes participants through the landscaped and wooded grounds of the historic Ford estate.

“It’s a very beautiful location right on (Lake St. Clair),” Bailey said. “Normally you have to pay (an admission fee) to access those grounds.”

And, as Bailey pointed out, dog walkers typically aren’t permitted, except for Ford House members — and even then, dog walkers are limited to Sunday mornings.

In honor of the milestone anniversary, Bailey said, MHS’s president and CEO will be addressing attendees before the walk starts.

Bailey said the MHS has two adoption partners on the east side: PetSmart of Roseville, which has cats available, and Petco in Sterling Heights, where both dogs and cats are available for on-site adoptions. In addition, the MHS has the Mackey Center for Animal Care in Detroit. It’s named after philanthropist and longtime MHS supporter Thomas A. Mackey, of Grosse Pointe Farms, who was honored this spring with MHS’s inaugural Humane Hero Award.

From medical care to cruelty investigations to low-cost vaccine clinics to community education to pet adoptions and more, Murray said MHS does a tremendous amount of good with every dollar.

“There’s just so much that they’re involved in, all for animal welfare,” she said.

The Ford House is located at 1100 Lake Shore Road in Grosse Pointe Shores. For advance registration or more information about the Mutt March, visit the MHS website at www.michiganhumane.org or call (866) MHUMANE toll-free.