Bella, the chocolate brown, female labrador and Robert Kugler, the Marine veteran from Nebraska, USA, have been inseperable friends since Robert took Bella in as a puppy some nine years ago. In May 2015, Robert suddenly noticed problems with Bella's left foreleg and after taking her to a vet, was shocked to hear the news that Bella had bone cancer.
The doctors didn't want to get any hopes up. Either Robert would have to put Bella to sleep immediately or her leg would have to be amputated as soon as possible. Robert decided to let her have the amputation, and when Bella awoke from her anesthesia, she had become a three-legged dog. But much to Robert's dismay, the cancer had spread to her lungs. The vet told him she would only survive three to six months months. Robert made up his mind there and then to pack his bags and go on a long trip. He and Bella would go on a joint road trip throughout the US, so that they could enjoy the remaining time they had together as intensely as possible. "I didn't want to come home one day to find her dead," Robert explains.
They have already visited Chicago, Key West, Nashville and Savannah together and are still traveling. Bella has been great for the last 14 months and is thoroughly enjoying her adventure with her owner. She loves driving in the car and really enjoys being in any kind of water that the two of them pass by.
The dynamic duo either spend the night in Robert's car or couch-surf at friends' places or with acquaintances. There are so many options and Robert is documenting the entire road trip on social networks. Many people are eagerly following their adventure, offer them a place to stay and encourage them not to give up!
Over the last years, Robert has had to go through the trauma of losing both his siblings and is using the roadtrip to help heal his own wounds: "When you see how one life ends just before that person was able to do the things they had always dreamed of, it changes your perspective on life. I feel like the trip I'm doing with my dog, is exactly what I should be doing right now in my life." The two inseparable friends are currently in Florida and plan on visiting the National Parks, Yellowstone and Yosemite.
And Bella? "She's just doing really well at the moment!" says Robert proudly. Even though their journey is overshadowed by Bella's disease, she is spending her precious hours side-by-side with her best friend. Could you ask for a more beautiful way to spend your remaining time?