In May of last year, nine-year-old chocolate Labrador Bella was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer. Given a maximum of just six months to live, and having had a limb amputated, the future looked bleak for the pup and her owner, marine Robert Kugler of Nebraska. However, those six months were soon up, and Bella was still going strong, already having visited Chicago for the Marine Corps Ball. It was time for an adventure.
Deciding that Bella needed to see a little more of the world in whatever time she had left, Robert made a plan – he and his dog would continue to travel the country, first venturing northeast before heading south and then going back to Kansas City, where Robert had volunteered his time with a veterans organization. Taking every moment as it comes, the marine has put his professional life on hold for now, intent on giving everything he has to Bella and the experiences that they're busy sharing:
"I feel like right now this is my purpose. It's the chapter in my life right now is just exploring with my dog…I feel that there isn't a better example of positivity and love than this girl right here. A friend to everyone, a spirit that won't quit, and a being that is truly always in the moment," he explains.
So far, Bella has explored the Florida Everglades, visited Ohio, New York, and Washington DC, romped on beaches and in rivers and passed historic monuments. Despite having only three legs, Bella doesn't let anything stand in her way. While they're traveling, Robert has stored his belongings, enabling the duo to take off whenever the mood greets them.
Fourteen months on from her diagnosis, Bella is continuing to enchant her followers, taking some 87,000 (and counting) social media fans on every adventure with her. You can follow Bella's travels here. The duo aims to show the world that anything is possible when you put your mind to it and to remind us all that life's too short not to embrace adventure.
Bella and Robert, you're inspirations to us all, and we hope that you manage many more months of traveling together yet – enjoy every moment!