Whiskey's bucket list items include a birthday party, visiting a race track, and enjoying poolside popsicles.

By Hilary Braaksma
May 13, 2021
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dog and his treats
Credit: Courtesy of Brandy Fowler

Whiskey, a sweet black Labrador retriever, is a happy-go-lucky dog who is inspiring all of us with his zest for life, even as it nears the end.

The senior dog, who is estimated to be around 15 years old, was recently rescued from a high-kill shelter and taken to Rescue Ranch, a non-profit animal welfare organization in Statesville, N.C. Brandy Fowler, a part-time employee at the Rescue Ranch, was asked to foster Whiskey after his arrival at the facility.

"The program coordinator called me one day saying there was a black Lab… and can we foster him," Fowler says. "I said absolutely, as a lover of Labs. We have a yellow one of our own."

After arriving at his new foster home, Fowler tells Daily Paws it was obvious Whiskey needed to put on some weight—but otherwise the dog seemed happy and healthy. It wasn't until a veterinarian appointment revealed heartworm infection and spleen tumors that Fowler and the other staff at Rescue Ranch realized that Whiskey was approaching the end of his life.

The sad news inspired Fowler and her family to commit to making Whiskey's last days the best ones possible.

"[The vet] told us his health issues and that he may not have long to live, and my son said we should create him a bucket list of all the things he may not have had the chance to do prior to coming to us," Fowler says. "So we thought about all the fun things we've done with our dogs over the years and have done that with him."

So far Whiskey has eaten an ice cream sundae: painted a picture: gone swimming: went to a bar: celebrated a human's birthday: eaten homemade Valentine's Day cookies and a cheeseburger Happy Meal; met other animals at the Rescue Ranch; appeared on TV; chased bubbles; and explored flower gardens. And Fowler says the fun isn't over yet.

The sugar snout still needs to check off a few fun activities with Fowler and her family. A few of the ideas they hope to do with Whiskey include:

Fowler has some sound advice for other pet owners who are considering creating a bucket list for their own pets or for shelter or foster animals in their care. She says it's important to take the things that bring the most joy into consideration and to do as many as you can.

For example, she says, "Whiskey isn't a big fan of toys, so most of his bucket list includes human interaction and food."

But most important of all is to savor every minute you have together. "Just enjoy the time with your dog since you're not sure if it'll be their last adventure, and take pictures you enjoy looking back on."