Whether you’re a dog or a human, there is no “good” way to die of cancer. It is a painful, ugly, degrading disease, and sometimes the treatment is just as much so. But if you’ve been diagnosed with terminal bone cancer, you could do worse than have someone like Riina Cooke look after you in your final days.
In late 2013, Cooke’s beloved Boxer, Romeo, was diagnosed with inoperable bone cancer.
“Osteacarcoma is not treatable. The only treatment is amputation and the rest of his body isn’t strong enough. He wasn’t a candidate,” Cooke told a Canadian paper earlier this year.
Giving Romeo more time was out of the question, but Cooke went out of her way to give him everything else that she did. After his diagnosis, she made a “bucket list” of things that she thought Romeo — and she — would like to do before the end came.
The things on Romeo’s bucket list included activism (making a cash donation to the Coquitlam Animal Shelter), indulging in simple luxuries (getting a massage by the fire and going for a “pawdicure”), visiting loved ones, and some things that were playful and silly, like riding in a police car and a fire truck. Some of the items — like making it to the New Year and celebrating Romeo’s ninth birthday with cake and friends — were heartbreaking because those things just don’t seem very notable when you’re able-bodied, healthy, and watching time run out every day.
The list came to 22 items, and Romeo completed all of them with his family before the end came. On March 16, Riina Cooke and her husband Jon took their beloved pet in to be euthanized.
“It was bittersweet,” she said. “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.”
Many people have mourned the passing of Romeo along with Cooke. She made a Facebook page for Romeo in his last days, sharing the pictures of his last few adventures with the world. “He’s all over the world now,” she told Life With Dogs He has a Facebook page and there’s something like 4,000 people on it now. 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.”
We give our condolences to Ms. Cooke and her family, and our congratulations on being such a devoted and loving owner.
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