The diagnosis was devastating: Robert Kugler's chocolate lab Bella – his best friend of nine years – had advanced bone cancer. The vet amputated a cancer-ridden leg, but the disease had spread to Bella's lungs as well. She was given just three to six months to live. It was horrible news, but what Kugler did after receiving it was both beautiful and inspiring. The Marine veteran decided to take his canine BFF on one last epic road trip across the country, and the two have been living life to the fullest – and spreading their positive message via social media – ever since.
What might be a depressing death sentence for many became the impetus for a joyous, life-affirming adventure for Kugler and Bella. Since hitting the road together, the pair has visited tons of incredible spots throughout the US. The journey from their home in Nebraska began with a trip to the Marine Corps Ball in Chicago and continued with stops at wilderness wonderlands like Niagara Falls and the Adirondack Mountains along with visits to famous monuments and tourist destinations like the Lincoln Memorial and the Grand Ole Opry.
Kugler is not just a large-hearted animal lover – he's also one heck of a photographer, and he's captured his touching, uplifting road trip with Bella in a series of photos that he's posted to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It's easy to see the love between Kugler and Bella in every snapshot. Kugler says his road trip is about more than just showing Bella a good time – he wants his journey to inspire others to get out and live.
Bella's already lived well beyond the six months the vets predicted – she was first diagnosed way back in May 2015 – but Kugler knows she can't live forever. The duo is currently in Florida, and they plan to head northwest to Yellowstone and Yosemite to avoid the summer heat, camping in nature and crashing with friends along the way. Kugler might not know how much time he has left with his friend, but one thing is certain: he and Bella are going to continue to enjoy every last moment they have together.
Images: Facebook, Robert Kugler