Man Takes Terminally Ill Labrador Retriever on Epic Cross-Country Road Trip
Bella the chocolate Labrador Retriever has been making the most of what may be the final months of her life — she’s been on an epic road trip with her best friend behind the wheel.
When she was 9 years old, Marine veteran Robert Kugler got the devastating news that Bella, who he’d adopted when she was a puppy, had bone cancer that had spread to her lungs. He was advised by his veterinarian that Bella should either have her left front leg amputated, giving her another 3 to 6 months to live, or be put down to end her pain.
Kugler had just graduated from school and decided to put off finding a job to take Bella on a "farewell trip" from their Nebraska home to the East Coast.
They traveled thousands of miles over the next five months in Kugler’s Toyota 4Runner, spending some nights in the SUV and others on friends’ couches as they made stops in Cleveland, Niagara Falls and Washington, D.C., before heading home to the Midwest, Omaha’s WOWT reported.
But despite her grim prognosis, that wasn’t the end of the road for Bella and Kugler. It’s now 14 months later, and the duo is in the midst of their second cross-country trip.
They’ve been to Missouri, Nashville and the coast of the Carolinas. They spent the Fourth of July in Savannah, Georgia, with some of Kugler’s Marine buddies before going south to Key West in Florida for more swimming and sightseeing.
"I feel like right now this is my purpose,” Kugler told WOWT while traveling in Florida. “The chapter in my life right now is just exploring with my dog.”
In an update on his website written last week, Kugler said he now plans to head home to Nebraska before going back out on the road with Bella, this time heading to the West and Northwest.
"We’re trying to stay as fluid as possible, so not trying to set many plans in stone, but we are truly looking forward to continuing this amazing journey for as long as we can keep going,” Kugler wrote.
Kugler said they’ve inspired people along the way, who tell him, “Please don’t stop; keep going.”
We’re with them, and hope Kugler and Bella have many more travel days ahead of them.
More on Vetstreet: