If you have never heard of a bucket list, it is a list that people make of things that they want to do before they die. It can be anything from visiting a certain country to doing a parachute jump. Although anyone can write these at any time of their life, bucket lists are often associated with people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness as they have a limited time to fulfill their achievements. It seems that bucket lists are not limited to humans, as I Heart Dogs told the story of how staff at a rescue shelter helped a service dog who had been diagnosed with cancer to complete his bucket list. The heartwarming story that follows is enough to bring a tear to the eye of even the most cold-hearted.
Wonka is a six-year-old service dog who has worked as a service dog. Two months ago, Wonka was diagnosed with terminal cancer. While most dogs would be resting in the last stages of their illness, Wonka has been busier than usual fulfilling his bucket list. His bucket list was compiled by the staff at Hearts Alive Village, which is the rescue organization where Wonka works. The staff wanted Wonka to have his final days filled with adventure and fun. Wonka’s handler is Kelly McMahon, and she also works as the Director of Operations for Hearts Alive Village. At the organization’s adoption center, Wonka works alongside McMahon full time as a greeter. He landed this job after he was trained as a service dog by an organization called Canine Assistance.
His extensive training means that Wonka can fulfill a wide variety of tasks, including picking up dropped items and turning light switches on or off. However, one of his greatest talents is his ability to offer comfort to the other animals at the rescue shelter. Talking to Fox5, McMahon has said that Wonka has some kind of natural ability to communicate in doggy language to the other animals in a way that helps to keep them calm. Sadly, Wonka won’t be around for much longer to help the other animals at the center. He first became ill in December 2019. His initial symptoms were just sneezing and a snotty nose. He then began to have nose bleeds. His vet, Dr. Muratore, was trying to treat the symptoms to no avail, but nothing was working.
This warranted further investigation, so the vet decided to conduct further tests, including a full head x-ray. The x-ray revealed that there was unexplained tissue blocking the whole of the dog’s right nasal passage. These findings led to the diagnosis of Chondrosarcoma, which is an incurable form of cancer that attacks the cartilage. As the condition was terminal, McMahon did not want to subject Wonka to lengthy and painful treatment. Instead, she wanted to create some happy memories with him. In fact, she decided to make the end of his life one the best parts of his life so far while he was still feeling well enough for some adventures. McMahon and others from the center worked together to create an exciting bucket list of things for Wonka to enjoy as he neared his final days. While he still has plenty of things to tick off the list, he has already had some amazing adventures.
Just some of the adventures he has enjoyed so far include diversifying his career to become a taste tester, visiting a fire station, riding in a police car, getting married, meeting a NASCAR driver, getting his portrait painted, interrupting a yoga class, and have a slumber party. He has also appeared in a local magazine and spent an amazing day playing on the K9 unit’s training course. While he has ticked off a phenomenal amount of dream activities from his list, there is still plenty that he wants to achieve as he approaches the end of his life. The rest of the list of things he would like to achieve is extensive, and it includes both activities he would like to enjoy and places he would like to visit. Some of the places he would like to go include the Natural History Museum and a doggy beach where he could go for a run and swim in the ocean. Some of the activities he has included on the list are appearing on ‘Ellen’, dining out at a fancy restaurant, going on a boat ride, visiting a comedy club, getting a doggy massage, playing an extra in a movie, marching in a parade, and making a child’s wish come true.
There is one more thing on his list that Wonka is well on his way to achieving, and that is to become a social media star. McMahon has set him up with his own Instagram account called Wonka’s Way. He is well on his way to achieving this dream as in just a short time, he already has more than six hundred followers, and this figure is growing each day. McMahon is using Wonka’s Instagram account to share his bucket list with people and to update them about his progress in ticking things off his list. It is also updated with regular photographs of Wonka enjoying each of the adventures from his bucket list as he completes them. Although Wonka’s future is uncertain and nobody is sure how long he has left to live, McMahon is determined that whatever time he has left he will enjoy. She is making sure that he has as much fun as he possibly can and before he becomes too ill to complete his list. McMahon has received a lot of support from the other staff at the center and from well-wishers who all want to Wonka to have every chance of completing his bucket list before his time in this world comes to an end.