When New Yorker Lauren Fern Watt learned her beloved dog Gizelle was dying of bone cancer, she did what any loving relative would do: she concocted a bucket list for her sick family member.
Watt, a travel writer and PR professional, created a list of adventures that her and 160-lb Bull Mastiff (whom she called her best friend and confidante) would embark upon until the inevitable happened.
“I wanted to enjoy my last months with Gizelle and really cherish our life together, instead of focusing on being sad about the fact that she had cancer,” Watt told BuzzFeed. “Travel is a huge passion of mine, and Gizelle was a big motivation to go on new adventures with her while I still could.”
The bucket list included all sorts of amazing adventures that any pooch, or human, could dream of. The pair rode in a canoe together reenacting one of their favorite scenes from a cherished movie, “The Little Mermaid.” (“I was determined to get all 160 pounds of my easily spooked pup into a canoe,” Watt said).They even visited New York’s Time Square, but went extra early “before the life-size cartoon characters and tourists could clog the sidewalks.” They also ate ice cream on a dock (“In complicated and busy Manhattan, it’s easy to forget about the simple things. I made it my mission to find a quiet dock where Gizelle and I could have an ice cream, watch the boats float by, and enjoy,” said Watt).
The day before Gizelle’s death earlier this month, the pair sat at a beach in Maine and watched the snow come down.
Of the emotional moment, Watt wrote:
“I was told Gizelle wouldn’t make it until Christmas, but in January we sat by the ocean in Maine as it snowed the day before she died. Part of me wondered if this was her plan all along, to take me on an adventure, knowing we’d end up on a deserted beach alone. The sky was white, the trees were bare, and even the birds were hiding. The whole world felt lifeless, and it was hard to believe this beach was once filled with rainbow-colored umbrellas and cute boys lathered in SPF. It was then I realized that I was okay with letting Gizelle go. Just like I had faith that the trees would sprout lime green leaves again and kids with yellow buckets would splash in the water once more, I had faith I’d carry Gizelle with me. Even in the emptiness of that beach that day, I could see Gizelle running free long the shore, rolling in the sand, awkwardly spooked by approaching waves. I knew she would live on through my experiences, and that I gave her the best life I could. And that to me was infinitely healing.”
On the day that Gizelle lost her battle to cancer, Watt took to her Instagram and posted a beautiful photo and message about her best friend:
Watt hopes to turn her adventures into a book to help others cope with the loss of a beloved pet. We think that would be a lovely idea, and tribute, and we hope Watt is successful with her project.
To read more of Watt’s and Gizelle’s inspiring journey, you can read her essay on Yahoo! Travel.