Massachusetts Mayor Gives His Dog the Best Ride of Her Life
A dying dog gets to experience a "bucket list" joyride across the continent.
Posted Nov 14, 2018
The emotional bond that people often have with their dogs can be a powerful thing. When we love a dog we will spend time with it, expend resources to keep it healthy, and, in at least one instance, travel across a continent simply because it will make a dying dog happier.
Normally, the information that I get about interactions between people and their dogs is retrospective. Individuals tell me about their relations and experiences with their dogs after the fact, however just recently I got to see one such set of events occurring in real time. Specifically this involves Paul Heroux and his dog and his dog Mura. I got to see his remarkable journey with his dog unroll because of his daily postings which included pictures and videos on his Facebook account.
Paul Heroux is currently the mayor of Attleboro, a city in Bristol County, Massachusetts. Attleboro once had so many jewelry manufacturers that it advertised itself as "The Jewelry Capital of the World." The most recent census puts its population at somewhere around 45,000.
Ten years ago Heroux purchased an eight-week-old dog that her breeder describes as a Japanese Wolf dog. She was incredibly cute as a puppy and quickly became an integral part of his life.
Mura accompanied him virtually everywhere, and when he began his campaign for mayor she became his virtual running mate. He told his Facebook readers that "my girl has been part of my political life since the beginning. So many of you know her already. From collecting signatures at Stop and Shop to knocking on doors in 2012, visiting schools and senior homes, walking in parades and her coming to work with me at City Hall from time to time."
This September Heroux noticed Mura with her back hunched, and she was visibly in pain. The veterinarian discovered that her spleen had ruptured and she was bleeding internally. She wasn't expected to live through the night, but she miraculously did. It was during her recovery period that Heroux learned that the source of her problems was hemangiosarcoma — an aggressive terminal blood cancer. He explained to his Facebook followers that "Her vet told me she has one to three months without treatment."
Just before he learned of Mura's medical condition, Heroux was slated to take a trip to the Middle East. This was the first vacation that he had planned in around three years. However when he was faced with the realization of what was happening to Mura he decided to cancel the vacation and to instead use the time he had scheduled for a road trip. “Rather than going to the Middle East for a vacation and spend time away from her, I decided to take a road trip to meet her breeder in [Victoria, British Columbia], Canada,” he said.
Over the two weeks that this trip would last Heroux would publish a daily series of pictures and descriptive Facebook posts so that it was easy to follow their progress. Their first stop was at Niagara Falls, then on to Michigan, Chicago, Wisconsin, and California, pausing to see the familiar tourist sites such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon.
One highlight included a visit to the Buffalo Gap National Grassland where Dances with Wolves was filmed. It was there that they found themselves surrounded by a herd of Buffalo. In Montana they sighted elk. According to Heroux, both of these encounters with large animals thrilled the dog. "Mura perked up (she was bred to hunt boar and deer)."
Once they reached British Columbia they took a ferry ride to Vancouver Island where Mura got to meet her breeder and cavort for a while with other dogs of her lineage.
From there Heroux drove south to visit his alma mater, the University of Southern California. When he returned home he noted that "[We] watched the sunset in Santa Monica. I didn't take a picture of that because it was just too precious."
On their way back to Attleboro the pair also stopped at the Oklahoma City Memorial and then on to the St. Louis arch before they finally returned home after 12 days. Heroux noted that "She thinks that 8,451 miles is a new 'Wanna go for a ride standard.'"
Those who have known and loved dogs will recognize that the importance of their journey together has little to do with the miles that passed under the wheels of their car, but rather has to do with the time and experiences that they shared together.
Heroux posted: "Mura doesn’t know she has terminal cancer so don’t tell her. Just let her think she is the little princess — that she is going for the best ride of her life. Dogs love to go for a ride."
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