Mayor with terminally ill dog captures hearts on cross-country road trip: 'I tried to give you the best life I could'

PHOTO: Paul Heroux, the mayor of Attleboro, Mass., holds his dog Mura at the Grand Canyon National Park in Canyon Village, Ariz.PlayCourtesy Paul Heroux
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Mayor Paul Heroux of Attleboro, Massachusetts held his dog Mura for the first time when she was just 8 weeks old.

“We looked at each other when she was in a crate. I was like, this is my little girl,” Heroux told ABC News about the moment he decided to give her a home.

It’s a moment that Heroux described with heavy emotion knowing on his first day with Mura that one day it would be his last. In September Mura was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma: an aggressive terminal blood cancer.

PHOTO: Paul Herouxs dog Mura is pictured at Yellowstone National Park during their road trip.Courtesy Paul Heroux
Paul Heroux's dog Mura is pictured at Yellowstone National Park during their road trip.

Mura’s illness came swiftly. On a Friday morning, Heroux and Mura visited a local senior home, a monthly ritual for the pair. But this time, after arriving back at the mayor’s office, Mura walked over to Heroux with her back hunched over, visibly in pain. Heroux would later find out that Mura’s spleen had ruptured and she was bleeding internally.

Mura needed emergency surgery and veterinarians said there was 50 percent chance she wouldn’t make it through the night. She survived.

Then, merely a week later, she received the tragic diagnosis.

PHOTO: Mayor Heroux takes a photo with Mura in the car as they drive through Wyoming.Courtesy Paul Heroux
Mayor Heroux takes a photo with Mura in the car as they drive through Wyoming.

“It was heartbreaking. I picked her up and said, you’re going to die little girl and you don’t even know it,” Heroux said.

Mura isn’t an average dog. She has lived a mayoral life, spending her days collecting signatures when Heroux ran for state representative, knocking on doors during his campaign for mayor, reading to school children and being the star in hometown parades.

She is a member of the community, Heroux said, so when he received her cancer diagnosis, he posted about it on his public Facebook page.

There was an outpouring of love with community members sharing their personal stories and sending words of hope, Heroux said. But it was the cross-country road trip that he took with his best friend that would inspire the country.

PHOTO: Paul Heroux sits by a campaign sign with Mura in an undated handout photo.Courtesy Paul Heroux
Paul Heroux sits by a campaign sign with Mura in an undated handout photo.

“She is the most precious thing in the world. She is my family. She’s a little person trapped in an animal body. We have a bond. We’re partners,” Heroux said.

Mura only has months to live, yet they could be among the most adventurous months any dog-and-human duo could ask for. It began as a trip to Vancouver Island, Canada, to meet the Mura’s breeder, but it turned into an epic journey.

Each day, Heroux published a series of pictures and Facebook posts. The two-week ride started on Oct. 28 with the first stop at Niagara Falls, New York. From there they went to Michigan, Chicago, Wisconsin and all the way to California.

PHOTO: Mura rests after surgery at Tufts Veterinary Emergency Treatment and Specialties hospital in Walpole, Mass. Courtesy Paul Heroux
Mura rests after surgery at Tufts Veterinary Emergency Treatment and Specialties hospital in Walpole, Mass.

Stopping to take a photo to commemorate each moment. Mura posed in front of landmark locations such as Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park and the Golden Gate Bridge, capturing the attention of friends and making new ones along the way.

“It wasn’t goodbye,” Heroux said. “We went for a ride. A 8,500-mile ride.”

When asked if there was one last thing he’d tell her, Heroux said, “Mura, I tried to give you the best life I could.”

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