Making bucket list items come true for pit bull terrier with terminal cancer

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Pit bull with cancer, a fast-growing sarcoma that doesn't respond well to surgery or chemo, is enjoying a happy life in his foster hospice home.
By Michelle Sathe

On the outside, Tyson seems like any other young dog. He loves to play with toys and breaks out in joyful zoomies at every opportunity. What you can’t see, however, is that on the inside, a fast-growing, high grade sarcoma is cutting short the life of this sweet, bunny-eared boy.

Since this type of cancer doesn’t respond well to surgery or chemotherapy, Tyson most likely has just months to live. That’s why the staff and volunteers at Best Friends Lifesaving Center in Los Angeles did everything in their power to make this time count after he was transferred to Best Friends from a shelter run by Los Angeles Animal Services.

They created a bucket list for Tyson that included a day at the dog beach, eating a cheeseburger, getting groomed, all the toys, lots of hikes, endless snuggles and, at the top of the list, a loving full-time hospice home where he could be doted on until it’s time to say goodbye.

A photo session with all of Tyson’s favorite staff members and his bucket list captured the dog’s sweet spirit and gained a lot of attention on Instagram. One young woman named Ky was particularly touched and showed Tyson’s post to her godmother, Bea, a long-time animal welfare volunteer and foster.


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“Tyson’s story tugged at both of our heartstrings. Ky thought I’d be the right person to give him what he needs,” says Bea, who reached out to provide hospice foster for Tyson and brought him home the same day after a successful meet and greet.

Grateful for every moment

Today Tyson is enjoying life with Bea and Ky and crossing many items off his bucket list, including enjoying pup patties from In-N-Out, hanging out with firefighters, short road trips and all the toys he can chew.

Recently he had his very own birthday party (complete with a dog-friendly cake) at Best Friends, so that staff and volunteers could help him celebrate.

Bea has also been taking Tyson to work with her whenever possible. “He’s been able to share his joyful spirit with some residents in senior communities,” she says. “Tyson does very well in the car and we both enjoy that time together.”

Tyson the dog wearing a Happy Birthday hatWhile their time together hasn’t been perfect (due to some yard and personal item damage because of Tyson’s separation anxiety), Bea wouldn’t trade it for the world.

“Tyson is definitely worth it for all the joy he brings,” she says. “He is a sweetheart and a goofball, all wrapped into one. Tyson definitely keeps us on our toes, but he makes us smile and laugh every single day.”

Even though she knows her time with him is short, Bea is grateful for every moment.

“Hospice fosters need to mentally prepare for the sadness that will follow,” says Bea. “You know what you’re going into up front, but in the end, you honestly receive much more than you give.”

Foster a dog near you

Tyson the dog with three women, a bucket with his list and lots of toys

Best Friends in Los Angeles works collaboratively with animal rescue groups, city shelters and passionate individuals, all dedicated to the mission of making Los Angeles a no-kill city. As part of this mission, Best Friends hosts adoption and fundraising events, manages two pet adoption centers, and leads the No-Kill Los Angeles (NKLA) initiative. Together, we will Save Them All.

Photos courtesy of Michelle Sathe