An adorable rescued Staffie – given just months to live after being diagnosed with cancer – is ticking off her very own doggy bucket list with the help of her besotted owner.
When four-year-old Bumble was first taken in by a Blue Cross rehoming centre in Tiverton, Devon, in November 2019 she was in a sorry state – urinating blood, caused by a mass on her kidney which, when tested, was found to be terminal cancer.
Given just months to live, she had already won the heart of Char Mullarkey, 23, who works at the centre and decided to adopt her after falling in love with her gentle temperament.
Char and Bumble (PA Real Life/Collect)
Now, animal behavior coordinator Char, of Exeter, Devon, is determined to make Bumble's final days as happy as possible by working through a doggy bucket list with her—ticking off items ranging from shopping sprees and beach visits to a half-birthday party, in case she does not make it to her fifth birthday in June.
“As soon as I saw Bumble, I fell in love, so I think I always knew I was going to keep her."
“I'd wanted a dog of my own for so long, that when I first got the devastating news, I couldn't help but think that we wouldn't be able to do all the things I'd planned. But then I realized that we could—we just had less time."
Bumble's bucket list (PA Real Life/Collect)
When Bumble first arrived at the Blue Cross rescue, she was very unwell, with large amounts of blood evident in her urine.
A series of scans and tests detected the cause of the problem to be a cyst on one of her kidneys.
“We tried antibiotics, but they didn't work, so in the end, Bumble had to have an operation to remove her kidney altogether."
“On the operating table, the cyst actually ruptured which was very traumatic. It also meant that vets didn't have the chance to check her remaining kidney."
Bumble and Char on the beach (PA Real Life/Martin Phelps/Blue Cross)
In the days after her surgery, vets became concerned when Bumble's urine still had a pinkish tint, suggesting traces of blood.
“She had another scan which showed that, sadly, there was a cyst on her remaining kidney too."
“In the meantime, the results came back from the tissue that had been sent away to be biopsied after the original operation, and it was cancer."
Bumble on her half birthday (PA Real Life/Collect)
“Nobody could give an exact prognosis, but I was told it was likely months, which was really difficult."
Originally, Char had just intended to foster Bumble, while staff at the centre searched for a permanent home.
But, after falling head over heels for the sweet-natured Staffie, she agreed to adopt her full-time.
Bumble with the picture she painted (PA Real Life/Collect)
“She came home with me the very same day we were given her cancer diagnosis."
To make the most of Bumble's remaining time—however long that may be—Char put together a doggy bucket list, which includes items like 'experience snow,' 'have a Christmas dinner' and 'go swimming,' all of which she has done.
Other items have included visiting a polling station, which she ticked off on December 12 for the general election, meeting another species, which was fulfilled when she came face to face with a herd of Highland cows, and 'enjoy a Starbucks puppuccino'—a cup of whipped cream made especially for dogs.
Bumble meeting another species (PA Real Life/Collect)
With just a few items left to do—including meeting a celebrity—Char and Bumble have had a wonderful time completing the list and creating many priceless memories in the process.
“One of the items was to paint a picture, which my colleague Sarah ended up setting up as a surprise," said Char, adding that she and her four-legged friend have also enjoyed afternoon tea, a cheese night and a duvet day together as part of the list.
“Sarah asked me and Bumble to meet her in one of the kennels at work, and when we got there, she'd set up this huge sheet of paper and some non-toxic paints. Bumble put her paws in the paint and walked around, leaving this pawprint pattern. It's not exactly neat, but that makes it all the more special."
Bumble on reception at Blue Cross (PA Real Life/Martin Phelps/Blue Cross)
Bumble managed to complete two items—to get a job and help another dog—in one go when she became a social ambassador at the Blue Cross centre that rescued her.
“That basically means that she helps assess the dogs who come into our care, seeing how sociable and comfortable around other animals they are."
“She has a really sweet, friendly personality, so it suits her perfectly."
Char and Bumble (PA Real Life/Collect)
“She's a real part of the team at work. She'll sometimes sit at reception, greeting everyone that comes in, and even in meetings, she'll join in and jump up on a chair, sitting there like a human."
“She's also our unofficial therapy dog as everybody loves cuddling her after a tough day."
As Char still occasionally fosters other animals, Bumble also got the chance to exercise her altruistic streak recently, when she brought home a litter of French bulldog puppies whose mum had sadly died.
Bumble enjoying a puppuccino (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I was temporarily taking care of them and Bumble was so maternal. If they ever cried, she would go over to them and comfort them."
As part of Bumble's bucket list, Char took her to her local Pets at Home, who generously donated £600 ($740) to both an unforgettable shopping spree and the other needy animals who are still waiting for their forever homes at Blue Cross.
Zooming down the aisles, the pooch, who is currently pain-free and not in need of any medication, picked out treats like a unicorn toy, a giant cuddly broccoli and a new agility set for the centre.
Bumble on her shopping spree (PA Real Life/Martin Phelps/Blue Cross)
Now, with the coronavirus outbreak forcing many businesses to temporarily close their doors, some items left on the list, like staying at a hotel and entering a dog show, may not be possible.
But, Char is determined to make whatever time Bumble has left as happy as possible.
“Bumble is due to turn five in June, but we aren't sure if she'll still be here then, so I threw her a half-birthday party at the start of the year."
Bumble walking in a forest (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I went all out, over the top dog mum, getting her presents and pupcakes. She was spoilt rotten and it was so nice to see how loved she is by everyone who came."
“We can't do a few of the items while we're all in lockdown, but luckily, Bumble is happy lounging in the garden, soaking up the sun. She really is a very special dog."