When Melissa Davis and her family adopted an elderly dog from a shelter, they thought that they would have years of happiness together. And for a short while, they had all kinds of fun with one another. However, just seven months later, they realized that it was time to say goodbye.
In spring 2017, Davis’ daughter Raven started asking her mom for a dog. However, the nine-year-old didn’t want just any pooch. In fact, she wanted the oldest one she could find. And the reason why was simply adorable.
“When she realized that old dogs die in the shelter with no family to love them, she was heartbroken,” Davis explained to TODAY in January 2018. “She started begging for us to adopt ‘an old dog no one else wants’ so that it could have a family before it died.”
While Davis thought that her daughter’s request was sweet, she had concerns about adopting an older dog. First of all, her house in Odenton, Maryland, was already pretty full – with two kids, two dogs and five cats. Secondly, the mom wasn’t sure if she could commit to the extra attention that an elderly canine might require.
As a result, she tried to talk Raven out of her plan. She explained that adopting an elderly animal meant that they’d likely have less time to spend with it before it passed away. However, the youngster simply wouldn’t budge.
Consequently, in June 2017 the family went to the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter to meet the facility’s oldest resident. Her name was Kaylee and she was an American Staffordshire terrier who was 11 years old. She had been at the shelter for three weeks and had been left there as her previous owners had decided that it was too expensive to care for her.
Even before meeting Kaylee, Davis knew that looking after her would be a big commitment. Alongside a torn ligament, the dog was suffering from the early stages of kidney disease, which would require continuing medical care. However, when Davis met the canine, it was love at first sight.
Recalling the moment that she first laid eyes on Kaylee, Davis said, “When they brought her outside to us, I knelt down on the ground and Kaylee leaned into my chest. I knew she was ours right then.” So, later that month, she took Kaylee home.
In Odenton, the Davis family were ready to spoil Kaylee for the rest of her golden years. However, they would soon discover that the dog only had months left to live. Indeed, their family vet diagnosed Kaylee with metastasized thyroid cancer. And with no viable treatment options available, the vet estimated that the animal had just weeks left to live.
The news no doubt came as a shock to Davis and her family. However, now more than ever, they were desperate to give Kaylee the wonderful old age that she deserved. As a result, they drew up a bucket list for the dog in order to make as many special memories as possible together.
Items on the list included going out for ice cream, enjoying a picnic and indulging in a doggy massage. With no time to lose, the family got to work on ticking off as many items as possible. So, in the following weeks, Kaylee celebrated her birthday, hung out with other elderly dogs at the Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland and got taken on a hike.
Every day that they spent together, Davis and her family got a better idea of Kaylee’s sweet personality. “She likes wearing costumes and she talks a lot,” Raven told The Baltimore Sun. “She’s a really fun dog.”
Even on the days that she wasn’t ticking items off her bucket list, Kaylee enjoyed every moment. She whiled away the hours with plenty of snacks and cuddles. “Then we’d snuggle into bed together,” Davis told TODAY. “She always slept smashed up against me.”
However, indulging Kaylee’s every whim was not cheap. Caring for the sick doggy ate up the family’s finances. As a result, the children agreed to give up a vacation to ensure that their beloved pet got the care and attention that she needed.
Revealing her kids’ sacrifice, Davis explained, “They happily gave up a vacation to Disney World because we needed the money to pay for Kaylee’s care. They told me, ‘That’s OK. We wouldn’t want to go without her anyway.’”
However, the family’s dedication to their dog didn’t go unnoticed. In December 2017 they won $10,000 for BARCS after submitting Kaylee’s story to the Petco Foundation’s Holiday Wishes campaign. “To be able to give back to BARCS means so much to us because they gave so much to Kaylee,” Davis told The Baltimore Sun.
Moreover, Kaylee won countless fans with her own dedicated Facebook page. The dog’s family used the social media site to share updates on the animal’s bucket list story. And before long, Kaylee had over 30,000 followers to her name.
Furthermore, the dying dog’s story had a profound impact on many of those who came across it. “I received an email from someone who has started volunteering at a local shelter and adopted a senior cat because of Kaylee,” Davis revealed. “This means more to me than words can say.”
It was this legacy that gave the Davis family comfort when the time came for them to say goodbye to Kaylee. After seven months together, they noticed that their four-legged friend was slowing down and struggling. As a result, in January 2018 they called their vet to arrange for her to be put to sleep.
However, before they let her go, the Davis family treated Kaylee to steak and eggs, a bacon cheeseburger and a whole cheeseboard. They then gathered round her to tick off the final item on the dog’s bucket list: “Have the best day ever and fall asleep in my mom’s arms.”