What’s in a Bucket List?


On July 31st, 2018 Tango was diagnosed with cancer. He has a malignant tumor sitting on a rib bone that has metastasized to his lungs. We are told he does not have very much time left, maybe one to three months. I’m in complete disbelief with this diagnosis because Tango has not shown any signs that he is sick. We only found the mass because of X-rays he had done for his osteoarthritis. At 9 years old, with arthritis, he’s still running and jumping and playing fetch. He still launches himself in the pool. He still gobbles down every meal and treat. So it’s hard for me to wrap my head around this, that it could be real, that this isn’t just some colossal mistake and tomorrow the oncologist is going to call and say she was wrong. But I’ve been down this road before. I’ve denied the truth before and held on longer than I should have. I can’t do that again. I have to buck up, face what’s in front of us, and give Tango the best end of life care he deserves.


I’ve lost count on the number of comments telling us to get a second opinion. And I greatly appreciate everyone’s concern. But we have several opinions from separate vets and specialists. We have X-rays, CT scans, and biopsies. I understand doctors make mistakes. I would never resign my dog’s life to dying of cancer based on one opinion and definitely not without verifiable and indisputable tests. I really do appreciate anyone’s and everyone’s concern for his health and the validity of his diagnosis. But this diagnosis came after weeks of thorough imaging tests, blood work, and invasive needle biopsies. His primary vet, two radiologists, an oncologist vet, and a hospice vet (none of whom are associated) all have come to the same conclusion. I honestly didn’t want to rehash the last couple of months we went through while getting this diagnosis because it wasn’t the point of this post. I didn’t feel it was relevant. My focus on this particular post was purely on Tango’s quality of life, end of life care, and discussing how we can all make sure our fur babies are as happy and comfortable and loved as possible when faced with this devastating outcome. Again I appreciate the concern so much. Thank you to everyone for all your lovely comments. It means a lot to us to receive so much love and know that everyone is rooting for Tango. I know there are stories out there when doctors are wrong. They are not infallible beings. But this is his diagnosis. We can hope for more time. We are giving him everything we can to keep him as healthy as possible. And we are doing everything we can to keep him comfortable. Now back to Tango’s awesome bucket list details!


In thinking about Tango’s bucket list I have to think about what his favorite things are. While we could go on a new adventure (time permitting), and try new things, there hasn’t really been much he hasn’t already done. He’s traveled cross country with me countless times, gone hiking, bar hopped with me, gone tubing down the Guadalupe River, kayaked in Key West, rode in a taxi, stayed in 4 star hotels, swam in the Atlantic Ocean, gone trick or treating, been waited on in a fancy restaurant, gained more Twitter followers on his own account than I’ll ever have on mine. He has run wild and free in wide open spaces along beaches, in the Texas hill country, and across a mountain. I’m confident he truly got to live his best life. Now that we’re at the end of that life I’m left thinking what can we do to make his last bit of time on earth the greatest days of his life. Not just big grand adventures but daily things. Of course we are definitely planning one last excursion, one last swim in the ocean, one last day at the beach, because that is definitely high on his list of favorite things. But what are his daily favorite things? That is the question I have to answer in order to build a proper bucket list for this awesome guy.


He would:

  • Swim every day whenever he wanted
  • Play unlimited games of fetch
  • Spend alone time with me without having to share me with his little brothers
  • Sleep in our bed every night
  • Bark at the FedEx guy and body slam the door until he runs back to his truck in utter fear (the UPS guy won’t ring our doorbell anymore)
  • Get treats for sitting and staring at me
  • Partake in every meal/snack I eat
  • Never be told no
  • Get ALL the kisses, hugs, and cuddles

And so that is where we will start. These are all the immediate things I can give Tango that he will get every single day until the end. If I have to have something FedExed every single day so he can bark his furry butt off at the deliver driver that’s what we’re doing!

Not knowing just how much time he has left makes any future plans uncertain so we’ve needed to waste no time in planning Tango’s last big adventure. He’s going to a lake he’s never been to, swimming in a river he’s never played in, and hanging out on a beach he’s never seen. Whatever time we’re given after that will be a bonus and we will treasure every day with him.

But wait, there’s more! On top of the daily spoilings I think it’s time for Tango to try all the things he’s never had. On this I will take any and all suggestions. So far my list includes mostly food:

  • A cake (from a dog bakery). Perhaps with F*ck Cancer written across it
  • Cheeseburgers
  • Donuts
  • Breakfast in bed
  • Ice cream
  • Steak dinner
  • Doggy massage
  • Spa day
  • Picture with Santa (thanks to the hubs for playing the role of St. Nick)

Input, suggestions, opinions, and the such are welcomed.


When my first lab died I realized I had so few pictures of him. What’s worse was the majority of the pictures I had were after his cancer diagnosis when he was sick and deteriorating. Yes I had taken pictures throughout his life but it was all pre iCloud, pre OneDrive, pre smart phone. There are very few printed pics. Somewhere out there, there is a flip phone sitting in a landfill with a picture of Darby dressed as Spider-Man on it, along with many more moments I’ll have to trust my own memory with. Having so few pictures is a major regret. It prompted me to start my Instagram account which is 99.9% Tango. My (sometimes obsessive) need to take and post pictures of my dogs is not because I’m some crazy dog lady (I am) or because I think every picture of my dog napping is the cutest thing you will ever see (it is), it’s because if I don’t document the happier, healthier, fun times I know from experience I will always regret it.


31 Comments Add yours

  1. Bootsandbag says:

    Hahah I’m instantly in love with Tango. What a great dog. Thanks for sharing, I love the pics!


  2. Victoria McRitchie says:

    Wow….just looking at all Tango’s beautiful pictures he is one amazing Boy….what mega FUN he has had over his 9yrs…!!
    It is heartbreaking to now know this is coming to an end,with his tragic diagnosis…..I truely hope you and he manage to complete the rest of his life to the best and both get levels of enjoyment you will never forget…
    It has been such a pleasure reading Tango’s Story…..And wish it could continue….Sadly we never have them as long as we want …and they always leave a lasting memory that in time will and does make us smile…

    I send Love and Hugs to you all……💞💓💞

    Liked by 1 person

  3. suzanne says:

    So sad to see this news, but looking at these fantastic photos, Tango has certainly lived a great life so far. Hoping he manages to stay healthy for much longer than expected x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Janice Moll says:

    Absolutely love this! You are an awesome dog mom! My only suggestions would be give him a real beer, and make that cake an ice cream cake. Maybe a Big Mac and French Fries ? I’ve been in your shoes and did not handle it nearly as well as you. Wish I had done all you done and are doing. Hugs and kisses to Tango and hugs and heart felt thoughts to you. aka PollyBelle1

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think some good ol Ben and Jerry’s is a fantastic idea! We’re definitely going to get him some burgers and fries. He’s earned it. Maybe even a milkshake! This is my second go with a fur baby diagnosed with cancer. I did not handle it well at all the first time around. But I know he felt my love and yours did too!


  5. Andrea Heyfron says:

    Tango has absolutely lived his best life and will continue to do so. I would say mission accomplished! Love seeing pictures of that boy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! 🙏🏼


  6. Ksthy says:

    He has had an incredible life and I know you will make it that way to the very end. My heart aches for you and I am crying as I’m writing this. He couldn’t have asked for a better dog mom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much 🙏🏼


  7. Amy Burton 804-437-1236 says:

    I have loved to Tango Cash in whiskey since the day I met you I will forever love these dogs. My heart is breaking for you and Donnie and for Tango give him the best until the end. As you know I lost my monroe not 2 years ago and my heart still breaks every day I love you Jan


  8. Amy Burton says:

    I have loved Tango whiskey and cash since the day I met you and you got them. I will forever have Tango in my heart. I hate that you’re going through this and I pray for Tango. As you know I lost Monroe not 2 years ago and my heart still breaks every day. I love you Jan& Tango ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jitka Hola says:

    Tango is one very lucky dog to have you. You never gave up on him. All the Best. Jitka

    Liked by 1 person

  10. MJ Judge says:

    Our fur babies are family it is clear that Tango is soooo loved I have been through this with my dogs and it is difficult to comprehend. Just take one day at a time and do as many things on his bucket list. Tango will be forever grateful for your love and care. My heart goes out to you and all your family💙💙💙💙💙 keep me posted God Bless
    Love MJ Judge Vancouver BC Canada

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Karen says:

    You are amazing, and I feel he has had the best life!! We lost ours at Xmas with no cancer symptoms 😔 it’s Heartbreaking, but he had the best life. Keep doing what you are doing and spoil that boy rotten and enjoy every minute ☺️ they are our babies after all. Lots of love ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙏🏼 😊


  12. Rosemary Thomas says:

    We lost our so loved chocolate lab Nelson on 16 July 2018. He was 14 and the most adorable boy and so gentle.
    Thoughts with you, cherish every second with Tango. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Kathy Fehr says:

    Thank you for sharing this post. I’m sitting here with tears running down my face. We loved our Maya so much. After more than two years without her I’m still not ready for another dog. I too missed out on so many pictures and when I’m ready our next dog will have many pictures taken of him or her.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ruth says:

    So sorry your pup is sick…there is a lot of controversy regarding feeding kibble to your pets…. Dr. Judy Morgan DVM has a lot of good information….she too has some of her spaniels tha have cancer… maybe she could help and give some advice


  15. Barbara heys says:

    God Bless TANGO. God bless you all. Sounds a little morbid, please let us all know how things workout for him. From messages and words of love i feel deeply for him. A lovely family, a beautiful, beautiful boy. TANGO

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Sharon Simpetru says:

    He is a beautiful dog and the photographs are a wonderful record of memories – I wish you well during the sad times ahead – Sharon from the UK

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sally West says:

    Dear Tango from what I have read you are very much loved and cherished. When it is time to cross the Rainbow Bridge please know that your paw prints 🐾 will forever be left on your hoomans heart and all those who have loved you.. I hope you know that you have taught all those who have known you valuable lessons in loving unconditionally. Not judging people by their size, colour, and gender unless it’s the UPS delivery man lol. Also know that when it is time another dog may sleep in your bed and play with your hoomans but you will never be forgotten because you have taught them that they have big hearts and lots of room to love another dog. Perhaps they will rescue one. Know that at the Bridge you will be young and pain free and patiently waiting for one day your hoomans will cross the Bridge to be with you. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  18. What a beauty and what a life Tango has had so far. We have had 4 labs; all of them wonderful. I can truly understand what you must be dealing with and I sure do not envy you. I do hope that he does not suffer and I am sure you will know not to hang on to him. I figure, if he is eating and not in pain – let him be. It would be kind if he would go in his sleep as we had hoped for our dogs but unfortunately that did not happen. Good luck – my heart goes out to you both.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Sandi says:

    Serendipity – bob- my sweet boy was just diagnosed- though sadly we aren’t given that long of an extension…. we have spent our “bob’s bucket list weekend”. Tango is lovely – lucky- and well loved- thank you –

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Lynn says:

    Your story makes me smile because even though tangos life with you might be shorter than you both wanted you are living life loving each other unconditionally and will have so many amazing memories to look back on when tango goes to the rainbow bridge….my favourite photo is the one at sunset just breath taking…..
    Sing like no one is listening.
    Love like you’ve never been hurt.
    Dance like nobody’s watching,
    and live like it’s heaven on earth. 💗🐾💗🐾💗🐾💗🐾💗🐾💗

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Gina says:

    What an amazing life Tangos having. From my own sad experiences, give him the treats, the burgers , everything sooner rather than later . What about doing an Unbirthday party with all his dog pals . Keep well Tango xx

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Susan Porter says:

    Amazing life he has had. The best decision I made for my dog was for him to have everyone he loved around him on his last day and allow him to go in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Rae Houghton says:

    So sad to read this about your handsome boy Tango..I was heartbroken when I also read your post about Darby previously 💔 they have both been blessed to have had such a happy life…enjoy your time with Tango give him a massive hug from me 💝 I know your pain as I lost my handsome boy Dexter on 15th July…he would of been 10 on 16th Aug….I too have pictures but not as many as I wished I’d taken so I totally enjoyed seeing all of your gorgeous pictures of handsome Tango 😍🐶 lots of love to you and Tango xx 💝💕

    Liked by 1 person

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