I hope one day that science can prove how strong the bond is between man and dog. It really is fascinating. When you really think about it, the only thing separating domesticated dogs and wolves is a few house-training lessons. That’s why I think dogs are so trustworthy and loyal. They really have no filter when it comes to judging a human being. If a dog doesn’t like someone, that someone is probably a bad person. Even if everyone thinks said person is the nicest guy in the world. If a dog doesn’t like them, they’re hiding something devious.
At the end of the day, dog’s are just so pure. All they want to do it play fetch, maybe dig a hole and love their owner. They’re impossible not to love. That’s why it’s so heartbreaking when a dog dies. They’re like your little buddy. You don’t want to watch them just stumble around your house, slowly rotting away. Which is the exact thought process retired Marine Rob Kugler had when he was informed that his beloved pup Bella had terminal cancer.
“I just didn’t want her to be gone one day when I came home,” said Kugler.
Rob adopted Bella as a puppy 9 years ago, so he was devastated to learn last May that a shoulder injury was actually cancer.
“They said this is the worst news I could give you; she had advanced osteosarcoma and it’s already in her lungs so you need to either take her leg today or put her down,” said Kugler.
Bella was given just three to six months to live. Her leg was amputated. Fresh out of school, Kugler decided not to go to work, but to make the last months of Bella’s life her very best.
“I feel like right now this is my purpose. It’s the chapter in my life right now is just exploring with my dog,” he said.
Kugler, who is a Marine vet, began with a simple trip to the Marine Corps Ball in Chicago but they kept going east. They’ve gone from one state after another; to Cleveland then Niagara Falls in Upstate New York then south to the City of Love and a stop in D.C. to soak up some history. They went south to soak up sun and stopped for a little game of baseball at Turner Field. Kugler said with every city, there has been a new adventure. Kugler and Bella took turns camping out in his 4Runner and staying with friends. Along the way, they’ve inspired strangers.
“’Please don’t stop, keep going’. ‘In any way that we can help let us know.’ And the biggest way is just to have a place to crash when we hit their area,” Kugler explained.
He’s dealt with a lot of deaths of close loved ones this decade, so this journey is helping him too. He hopes it might inspire others to dare to live.
“I just saw firsthand what happens when you don’t do what you want to do in your life and that’s that you don’t get to do it,” said Kugler. Bella was given at most 6 months, but she’s now at 14 months. Kugler says he’s not sure when the tour will end.”
Keep fighting, Bella. Fuck, I’ve never even met this dog and I want her to keep living. I think the important part of this story is that Kugler recognized the difference between ‘existing’ and ‘living’. Everyone deserves to go out with a bang, especially your loyal canine friend.