Bucket List for a Vet’s Service Dog
'I could do more things when I had him by my side,' says former Marine — now it's his animal's turn to enjoy
A Marine veteran and his bomb-turned-service dog are in the midst of completing their final mission together, after a veterinarian told Cpl. Jeff DeYoung that his trusted pooch has just weeks left to live.
DeYoung and Cena were first introduced after a personality test paired them together in 2009. They deployed to Afghanistan together, where they were charged with walking in front of infantry units to patrol the area for improvised explosive devices (IEDs), Fox 17 reported.
While DeYoung retired in 2013, Cena completed two more tours with different handlers, but they reunited in 2014.
DeYoung adopted Cena, who became his service dog after he started suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, Fox 17 reported.
"I started noticing that going out in public was easier, less anxious, I could do more things when I had him once again by my side," DeYoung told the news outlet.
But last week, DeYoung noticed Cena was having trouble putting weight on his back leg, which doctors eventually diagnosed as bone cancer.
"To be frank, I hid under the desk in the vet's office, I threw my phone against the wall, and the vet had to leave the room until I could compose myself," DeYoung told Fox 17.
With just weeks left together, DeYoung is determined to make lasting memories with his loyal pooch. He's currently in search of a Jeep Wrangler to borrow so the pair could enjoy a ride with the top down.
He's also hoping for a hand salute as Cena makes his way into the vet's office on his final day. A GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of a headstone was started in his honor, and DeYoung is hoping to secure a burial plot at the war dog memorial in Lyons, Michigan.
"We walked in front of the group that we served with and everything that they faced, we faced first," DeYoung said of his time overseas with Cena. "Overseas, it was me and him against the world."
This Fox News piece is used by permission.
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