In late 2013, Romeo, the 8-year old boxer, was diagnosed with untreatable bone cancer, osteacarcoma. His number one human, Riina Cooke of British Columbia, cried for days after receiving this horrible news, but then she decided to make the best out of a bad situation. “I cried and felt sorry for him, and then I just snapped out of it and said, ‘ok, let’s make this a positive, fun experience,’ and then I just kind of came up with the bucket list.”
She penned what she thought Romeo would love to experience in the next four months before his inevitable departure to doggie heaven.
First on the list were delicious culinary delights normally off limits to dogs – they included a cheeseburger, sushi, breakfast in bed with his doggie-dad and steak at a candlelit picnic in the park.
The 22-item list extended beyond new food experiences and included sight-seeing at the beach, visiting loved ones, riding shotgun in a police and a firetruck, making a donation to an animal shelter, having a blind Valentine date with a cute boxer named Pearl, enjoying a fireside massage and having a big blow-out birthday party with all of his doggie friends for his 9th birthday.
When his bucket list was complete and the cancer overwhelming, Romeo was put to sleep. “It was bittersweet,” Cooke recalled. “I had to let Romeo go, we had so many great memories together, but it wasn’t fair to keep him alive when he was in so much pain. Everyone loved him; he was such a kind-hearted dog.”
Cooke made a Facebook page for Romeo and his bucket list to inspire others. “He’s all over the world now,” she told Life With Dogs. ”I have thousands of messages from people saying he’s helped them with their grieving process and that they’ve now given their dogs bucket lists. I’ve had people tell me it’s changed their perspective on their dying animals or even family members, and how they want to stop hurting and instead enjoy every last moment.”
Photos for this post were supplied by Riina Cooke from Romeo Facebook page. R.I.P. Romeo.
Next page – A video of Romeo enjoying his last days.