When Robert Kugler got the news that his beloved Chocolate Lab, Bella, only had three to six months left to live, he did what most pet parents would do – go on an epic farewell road trip.
Robert, of Broken Bow, Nebraska, was given the news that Bella had terminal cancer. She had a shoulder injury that ended up being cancer – and it spread to her lungs. After learning she had only about six months left to live, he decided to make those the best six months of Bella’s life.
So he planned an epic road trip.
The doctors amputated one of Bella’s legs to help with the pain. After her six-month prognosis came and went, Bella was still going strong. So Robert, a Marine veteran, decided to take Bella to the Marine’s ball in Chicago as his date.
“I just didn’t want her to be gone when I came home,” he said.
But their road trip to Chicago turned into something more. After the ball, the duo didn’t return to Nebraska as planned. Instead, they set their sights east.
And that’s when the farewell road trip officially began.
Robert and Bella visited a lot of cities – including some landmarks, national parks, ball games, and more. After finishing up North East area, they went south through Washington D.C. and made their way to the Florida Keys.
Robert is no stranger to tragedy. He lost his brother in Iraq in 2007 and his sister two years ago in a car accident.
“When you see lives end shortly before people get to do many of things they dream of doing, it changes your perspective on life. I feel like right now this is my purpose. The chapter in my life right now is just exploring with my dog,” he said.
The trip has lasted nearly a year. They’ve had some extended stays – like in Kansas City where Robert worked with a veteran’s organization – but they’re thinking of heading back to Nebraska for a quick stop before making their way to the west.
It hasn’t always been easy – the summer heat took its toll on Bella – but they’re taking whatever comes their way.
The trip has even inspired others to take their very own trip and the duo has made a ton of friends along the way. People have even reached out on social media, offering words of encouragement and even a place to crash when Robert and Bella are in their city.
It’s now been a year and a half since Bella got her three to six-month prognosis. It may be because of all the adventure or the open road or even just the fresh air. Whatever it is, we can’t wait to see more of Robert’s and Bella’s adventures.