A heartbroken dog owner has created a poignant bucket list for her terminally ill “best friend” Chuckie to bring some happiness to his dying days.
Toni Lawless, 26, was devastated to be told her beloved 13-year-old Staffie is dying of cancer after vets found an inoperable six-inch tumour on his bladder.
But rather than dwell on what’s to come, Toni is focusing on brightening up her cherished pet’s final weeks with a series of carefully thought-out treats.
The bucket list, which has been drawn up to include everything Chuckie loves, includes eating ice cream at the beach, buying the biggest bone possible and even going for a spa treatment.
Care assistant Toni said: “I’ve had dogs since I was little, but he is the one.
“He’s my best friend. He’s like my child.
“After he was diagnosed I couldn’t sleep for nights. Then someone on a Staffie group on Facebook gave me the idea of doing a bucket list.
“They said I should do something for me to remember him. He had a good life and so I shouldn’t be upset about it.
“So I thought, ‘Why not? Humans do it, so why not?'”
The list started with an idea to visit the police station where Chuckie was once rescued after going missing.
Toni said: “The station got closed down afterwards but it has since reopened, so I took him back to sit in the police car.
“He loved it and it really spurred me on to think of other things to do with him.
“He loves going to the beach and is a sucker for an ice cream so that one had to come in somewhere, as well as treating him to a bag of doughnuts as he can’t resist.
Also on Chuckie’s bucket list is watching the sunset on the beach, having a teddy bear made just for him and even having a professional photoshoot.
He and Toni have spent the last month ticking off entries on his bucket list and hopes to complete them all while he still can.
Toni, from Southend-on-Sea had to rush Chuckie to hospital on December 10 last year after he began urinating blood.
He was found to have an inoperable tumour on his bladder and because of his age, Toni decided against chemotherapy and instead chose to give him an enjoyable rest of his life.
Although she does not know how long Chuckie has to live, she hopes that the bucket list will keep them distracted until that day comes.
Chuckie was there by Toni’s side throughout her teens and now lives with her and her partner, warehouse manager Adam Hammond, 28.
“He’s been there through absolutely everything with me,” said Toni. “He’s in my prom photos, he’s always been there when I was upset as a teen, he always gives me cuddles.
“I was the one who walked him and fed him. When I moved out of home I took him with me. He was always mine more than my parents’ or my brothers’.
“If I was ever upset I would take him for a walk down on the seafront. I would always feel better after. When I was little I wasn’t allowed to go out in the dark without him.”
Toni is dreading life without Chuckie, but she hopes the bucket list will allow her to remember him fondly going what he loves best.
She said: “He’s a special dog, so much do that people who have met him have actually gone and bought a Staffordshire Bull Terrier because of him.
“I want to remember him that way, not as an ill dog, and this will be a lasting way to remember the Chuckie me and many others have come to love so much.”
After completing almost all of his bucket list, Chuckie has just one item left to tick off – meeting a celebrity.
Toni added: “Chuckie would love to meet any celebrity that likes dogs. He’s a friendly boy so he’s not too fussy.
“I think he’d be chuffed if one of the cast of The Only Way Is Essex got in touch, he likes watching that on the telly.”
Westley Pearson, Director of Claims and Marketing at www.animalfriends.co.uk, said: “The prospect of losing a pet can be utterly unbearable, so Toni’s aim to make Chuckie’s last days so wonderful is heart-warming and admirable.
“Chuckie is a lucky boy to have such a dedicated and loving owner.”
CHUCKIE’S BUCKET LIST
*Eat an ice cream on the beach
*Buy the biggest bone we can find
*Have a photoshoot
*Ride in a police car
*Watch the sunset on the beach
*Go to a spa and have a treatment
*Go to the pub with mum
*Meet a celebrity
*Have a teddy bear made just for me
*Make a paw print in clay
*See my best friend one more time
*Eat a whole bag of doughnuts
*Ride in a fire engine