When most owners would despair in the face of tragedy, Little Joe’s owners are celebrating the life of their pet. Essam and Kathryn Shomali, owners of the rescued beagle Little Joe, made their pup a bucket list after he had a cancerous mass removed. The couple was told that Little Joe’s form of cancer, called adenocarcinoma, could return at any time and would be fatal to the beloved four-legged member of their little family.
“He’s definitely spoiled like a little child,” Essam Shomali said of the pup he and his wife rescued in 2012. “He’s been a very good little boy.”
L.J.’s bucket list includes riding in a fire truck, eating a Big Mac, going on a blind doggy date, and riding in a motorcycle sidecar. Some of the things on the list have a philanthropic bent as well – number five was a donation to a shelter at a local church in L.J.’s name, and number six was a donation to a Maryland animal shelter.
The bucket list has seen a massive community response. L.J.’s story has been featured on ABC News, and people have reached out to help the beagle check things off on his list. For example, number 10, to meet a famous or police dog, is happening very soon.
“An inspector from homeland security who is a canine handler called us and we’re setting up a time for him to bring his Shepherd and 2-year-old Beagle over,” Shomali explained. “The whole point of this was just to have some fun–fun for us and fun with L.J., and have great memories with L.J. and just to celebrate L.J.,”
And of course L.J. really enjoyed number four – eating a whole ice cream cone. Next is more gastronomic doggy endeavors: eating a candlelit steak dinner in a park. And after that is going to a doggy spa, which Shomali says has not happened yet.
The supportive and overwhelming response shows the universal love and affection people have for their pets. “There’s so many people out there that have a love for their animals and do treat their pets as kids and can relate to this type of relationship,” Shomali said. “It’s been a lot of fun, and that was the main goal.”
The big one, number fifteen on the bucket list, is for L.J. to make it to December, when the Shomalis are expecting their first child. They hope that their dog will get to meet the baby, and for just a little while, they can all be a family together.