Nicole Elliot said she knew right away she wanted to adopt Chester, a senior rescue dog who suffering from terminal cancer, because she wanted to take for the adventure of a lifetime before he leaves this world.
“Before I went and got him, I decided to do a bucket list,” Elliot of Columbus, Georgia told ABC News. “They brought him out to me and I fell in love with him.”
Elliot, 24, said she has a passion for rescuing animals. She found Chester’s photo while scrolling through the Facebook page for Animal Ark Rescue — a shelter that was searching for potential owners to care for him in his last days.
“They rescued him from a high kill shelter in April after he was surrendered over from his previous owners,” she said. “He had a huge tumor on the top of his head and they wanted someone to take him for his final days. The next day, I got there right before they opened.”
“I never compiled a list. I’ve just gotten some ideas of things I can take him to do,” Elliot said. “He’s playful at times, but I’m sure with the age and the cancer it slows him down. He is just very sweet and he soaks up any love that you give him.
“He deserves it,” she added. “His past life didn’t seem too well.”
First, Elliot began Chester’s final journey with a visit to a local stream complete with a hot dog lunch and a doggy shopping spree.
“We bought new toys, a bed, bananas, and treats,” she said. “I also want to take him on a boat ride, to the beach, and to have professional photographer take pictures of him. I want to have them [the photos] after he’s gone.”
Elliot said she hopes the efforts will bring awareness to animals who have a lesser chance at finding a forever home before they die.
“That was my main goal to inspire and encourage people to adopt shelter animals that people are less likely to adopt like older ones and the terminally ill,” Elliot said. “There are so many people that say animals don’t have souls like humans, but I feel like anybody who met Chester would see he does have a soul. He has already fallen in love with me. He follows me everywhere.
“I think all animals should have a chance to have a happy life.”
Elliot said veterinarians are unsure of how much time Chester has left.
She added that she plans continuing to adopt sick and elderly animals in hopes to bring happiness to their lives.