ERIE, PENN. — It’s been a busy few weeks for Todd Burchanowski, of Erie, and his 8-year-old dog, Reyes, an outgoing mixture of poodle, beagle and best friend.
Together they’ve traveled to Niagara Falls, eaten french fries at McDonald’s, watched the sun set at Presque Isle State Park, had their picture taken with a cow and ridden the famous incline up Mount Washington in Pittsburgh.
And Reyes, who is a mature 56 in dog years, also was married in an apparently nonbinding ceremony in the park.
For Reyes, who rides with her head out the window of Burchanowski’s Jeep, it’s been a season of fun with her owner, a 36-year math teacher at Fort LeBoeuf High School.
For Burchanowski it’s been the beginning of what he hopes will be a long goodbye.
He had taken his dog for a routine checkup the day after Thanksgiving when lumps were found on her lymph nodes.
A biopsy revealed she had lymphoma, a type of cancer.
Chemotherapy was an option, but given the dog’s past stomach problems, neither Burchanowski nor his veterinarian thought it was a good idea.
“Everybody agreed that the quality of life is the most important thing for her,” Burchanowski said. “The vet said do whatever you can to make her last time the best you can.”
Burchanowski has spent every day since trying to do just that.
The idea of compiling a bucket list of experiences that Burchanowski could do with his dog was offered by Patricia Jones, a fellow teacher who read on the Internet about a pet owner who had done something similar.
Each day since Dec. 2, Burchanowski has crossed another item off a bucket list that he crafted with help from friends, students and family members. Since then, Reyes has taken a ride in a firetruck, worn an ugly sweater, kissed a crayfish, helped build a snowman, gone swimming, had her picture taken with some buffalo and been blessed by a priest.
Burchanowski doesn’t suggest his dog attaches any special significance to all these events, including the wedding arranged by some of his students.
“No, I think she knows her daddy is taking her for a lot of rides to meet new people and to have a lot of fun,” he said.
For Burchanowski, the busy bucket-list schedule has helped keep some of the sadness at bay.
“I think I am doing this for both of us,” he said. “I think I was doing it to occupy a little bit of my time and maybe not think about what is going to happen in the future.”
Source: Go Erie