They say every dog has its day, but for a beloved beagle in Maryland, that day is today–and every day until it’s time to say goodbye.
“They found a growth and we had it surgically removed and sent it for testing and found out it was cancer,” Essam Shomali, of Towson, Maryland, told ABC News of him and his wife Kathryn’s beloved dog, Little Joe.
The beagle, affectionately nicknamed L. J., has been like a child to the couple since they rescued him in 2012.
“He’s definitely spoiled like a little child. He’s a very good boy,” Shomali explained.
When they found out Little Joe had an aggressive form of cancer called adenocarcinoma, which could return at any time, they realized they wanted their sweet pup to live every day to the fullest. So they came up with a bucket list.
“The whole point of this was just to have some fun–fun for us and fun with L.J., and have great memories with L.J. and just to celebrate L.J.,” said Shomali.
The couple started adding things to the list: “Things that L.J. would really enjoy doing, or things that were just nice for the community.”
Topping the list at number at one is for Little Joe to chow down on a Big Mac. “He’ll love that one,” Shomali said.
Next up is a big one–for L.J. to ride in a fire truck. “It should be happening Saturday,” said Shomali. “The fire truck is coming to pick him up.”
Number three is for L.J. to have a candlelit steak dinner in the park. Number four is to devour an ice cream cone, which he has not only successfully completed, but Shomali says it was probably Little Joe’s favorite item thus far. Number five was a donation to a shelter at a local church, and number six was a donation to an animal shelter through the Maryland SPCA.
Number seven spiced things up a bit–a blind date. “He had a lot of fun,” Shomali said of L.J.’s impromptu date with a vivacious fellow canine running freely in her large, beautiful backyard.
Number eight is to hit the doggy spa. “Not yet,” said Shomali. “That’s all my wife.”
Number nine is to ride in a motorcycle sidecar, which has not yet been completed. Number 10, to meet a famous dog or a police dog, is happening soon.
“An inspector from homeland security who is a canine handler called us and we’re setting up a time for him to bring his Shepherd and 2-year-old Beagle over,” Shomali explained.
Number 11 is to have a birthday party with friends, which the couple is planning to do over the summer “when it’s still nice out,” because they believe the beagle’s birthday is January and they’d prefer not to wait. Number 12 is to get on the news–done. Number 13 is to donate to the Beagle Freedom Project, which has partially been completed, but they still plan to do more. Number 14 is to go for a swim this summer.
And finally, number 15 is the doozie: “To meet baby Shomali in December.”
The happy couple is expecting their first child this holiday season, and is optimistic that their pet will still be around then. And although the Shomalis are overjoyed their beagle’s bucket list has resonated so well with people, at the same time, they’re not really surprised.
“There’s so many people out there that have a love for their animals and do treat their pets as kids and can relate to this type of relationship,” Shomali said. “It’s been a lot of fun, and that was the main goal.”