Man takes beloved dog with cancer to Florida, across country

Still frame from video provided by CNN News

A man is taking his dog with cancer on the cross-country road trip of a lifetime. The master-pet adventure has given the dog an extended leash on life.

Robert Kugler and his chocolate lab Bella are driving through Florida. “I didn’t want her to be gone one day when I came home,” Kugler said.

He adopted Bella when she was a puppy nine years ago. 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,” Kugler said.

Bella was given three to six months to live. She had her leg amputated. She’s now lived 14 months since that prognosis.

Kugler is fresh out of school. He decided instead of going right to work that he’d make the last few months of Bella’s life her very best. “I feel like right now this is my purpose. The chapter in my life right now is just exploring with my dog,” he said.

The trip began with a simple trip to the Marine Corps Ball in Chicago. Then they kept going east, one state after another, to Cleveland then Niagara Falls in Upstate New York.

Then they traveled south, stopping in Washington, D.C. to soak up history. Then they came to Florida fora soak in the sun and a little baseball.

Kugler says 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’ve just seen first-hand 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,” he said.

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