Bentley’s Bucket List: Making Every Day Count for a Dying Dog

After learning he only had months to live, this pup is getting the star treatment.
By: Deidre Grieves

*Editor’s Note: On January 14, 2017, Dana Freidly announced on Facebook that Bentley passed away. “He passed in our home, while we were holding him and petting him,” she writes. “Rescue is so hard but I would do it all over again for him.” PawCulture feels lucky that we had the opportunity to spend some time with Bentley and help him fulfill some of his bucket-list dreams. Rest in peace, Bentley.

At 12 years old, Bentley found himself in a terrible situation—after years of living with a family, he was surrendered to a New York City animal shelter because his owners could no longer care for him. As a senior dog with health problems, Bentley didn’t attract any attention from potential adopters. But, luckily, in January of 2016, Pibbles & More Animal Rescue pulled him from the shelter and found Bentley a foster home just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with Dana Freidly and Ben Shirk.

“He was very sick right out of the gate,” Freidly tells PawCulture. “His kennel cough turned to pneumonia, and once that cleared he had an upper respiratory infection.” Freidly says that they were in and out of the vet’s office for the first few months, and had high hopes that Bentley would recover.

But in April, when doctors tried to remove a red growth on Bentley’s eye, Freidly and Shirk found out some heartbreaking news. Bentley was diagnosed with an atrioventricular block—a condition that doesn’t allow enough blood to pump to his heart. Freidly’s veterinarian said Bentley only had a few more months left to live.

But instead of breaking down, Freidly decided she would make Bentley’s remaining days the best of his entire life. “The whole goal is that if we only have him for a little bit, we want to make him as happy as possible,” says Shirk. So the couple decided to put together a bucket list for Bentley, so that he could enjoy every moment.

Bentley’s bucket list contains a total of 31 activities that range form eating a cheeseburger and watching a sunset to dressing up fancy and riding in a police car. “He met the mailman; he chased the UPS guy; he watched ‘Lassie’ on TV; he cuddled with a cat,” says Freidly. “He has done more than I can even remember.”

Friedly, who has deemed herself Bentley’s “hospice mom,” documents Bentley’s progress on Facebook and has shared all of his bucket-list accomplishments with Bentley’s fans. And Bentley has plenty of fans. “I think I was one of his first fans on Facebook,” says Robyn Kohl Van Dusen, who regularly keeps up with Bentley through social media. “When I read his story, and I saw his face, I was like, ‘I’ve got to meet this guy.’”

The love that Bentley receives from strangers is something that means a lot to both Freidly and Shirk. “All of the attention towards him has been really uplifting,” says Freidly. “People have all of these other things going on in their lives, but they stop their lives to help Bentley.”

No one knows how much time Bentley has left to live, but Freidly and Shirk are cherishing every single day they have with the sweet, lovable dog. “About four months ago, we got the diagnosis that he had three months left,” says Shirk. “We don’t know how much longer we’ll have the guy, but we’re happy with what we have.”