Have you created a bucket list for your dog?
My big dream for Shep was to set foot in the two big oceans that border North America.
We lived most of his life in Calgary, Alberta. The closest he got to the Pacific Ocean was glimpses of water from the I-5 on a road trip to Seattle for Christmas 2009.
Oddly enough, he did swim in the Atlantic Ocean.
In 2012, my boyfriend-now-husband and I drove home to Nova Scotia so he could meet my mom.
We took Shep for a drive along the cape and took a break at Mahoney’s Beach, where I spent much of my childhood.
He jumped into the water and threw his face into the salty brine, thinking it would be as delicious as the glacial water to which he was accustomed in the Rocky Mountains.
He growled and barked at the distasteful waves.
But it took him three or four more tries before he figured it out and stopped trying to drink the ocean water.
We still laugh fondly at that memory.
Do all the things
Having a bucket list for your dog is a way to create memories that you will treasure for years past the day he leaves your physical world.
And those memories can bring comfort and healing in the days that follow.
While it can be difficult to watch your best fur friend age or deal with a terrible diagnosis, it can be helpful to find ways to celebrate their lives and make their remaining time as meaningful as possible.
You can do this by making a bucket list for your dog, compiling a list of activities or experiences that you and your dog can enjoy together.
You’ll make the most of your time left and have special memories to look back on when it’s time ease the pain.
It becomes especially important when we’re looking at our final walks with our precious babies. Here are some ideas for filling up a bucket list for your dog.
1. Take a road trip together
Road trips with my dogs have a special place in my heart. It’s just us and the open road, feeling free and going somewhere cool. It also allows your dog to see new places and experience different sights and smells, which can help to keep them mentally stimulated. That can be especially helpful when their mobility is limited.
2. Have a spa day
If you have a groomer who loves to fuss all over your best fur friend, take her to out for a day to look her very best. No matter what age, care and hygiene are important for our dogs’ well-being.
3. Find a beach and just play
The fresh air and play time will do you both good. Play time can be as much as a game of fetch if your dog is still able or just an errant dig in the sand. It can also be lovely to just sit with each other and watch the waves roll in.
4. Share a special meal or treat
If you have scheduled your goodbye, you may want to pick up something decadent, that meal you always wanted to give her but knew it wouldn’t fit into her nutrition plan. Big Macs or prime rib are on the table. You might even consider letting her have that one piece of chocolate.
5. Have one last camping weekend
If you’ve spent your lives heading to the woods for some peace and quiet, one last trip to a campground may be in order. It’s an opportunity for your dog to say goodbye to your favorite spot, too.
6. Hang out at a coffee shop
It’s time to let life slow down. Find a coffee shop or even a brewery with a patio that lets dogs hang out. Grab yourself a latte and let your bud enjoy all the scritches, pats and lovins’ from anyone who will offer them.
7. Do something new together
Is there one thing you always wanted to do with your dog but never got around to? Never had the time for? Now is the time to do it … whatever it is.
8. Spend a day relaxing at home
If your time together is coming to an end, you may want to take a day or two off from work and just hang out at home. Have all the snuggles, all the scritches and all the treats you want to have with each other.
9. Throw a party with the friends and family who love her to say goodbye
My new friend Maureen Scanlon, who will appear on the podcast in February, gathered her entire family and surrounded her precious Brody with joy and a celebration of life when her precious boy was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in December.
10. Get a photoshoot together
A professional pet photographer knows exactly how to create beautiful artwork that will commemorate the love you share with each other.
When you’re putting together a bucket list for your dog, keep in mind what they’re able to do, especially if their health and mobility are all of a sudden placing limitations on what you can do.
You may also want to ask your veterinarian how much she thinks your dog can handle, given her diagnosis. She may have ideas for activities that are safe and appropriate for your pet’s condition.
Don’t miss out on a bucket list for your dog
The memories we create with our dogs give us a chance to focus on the positive, the happy times, in the days after they leave our physical world.
While we miss them and would do anything to have them back, having a bucket list for your dog gives you an opportunity to say goodbye by doing all the things, seeing all the places, having all the fun.
They have made us smile and laugh and have fun in so many ways in their years with us. We can honor those moments by giving them a few last great experiences and us a few last amazing memories to hold in our hearts forever.
Angela Schneider is the founder of One Last Network and owner of Big White Dog Photography in Spokane, Washington. She takes her clients on adventures throughout the Pacific Northwest, creating epic images, artwork for your home and, most importantly, memories. In her free time, Angela is out on adventure herself, creating a lifetime of memories with her Maremma sheepdog, Bella.