Love in Action!

By Blenda R Pilon, MSc, author of DOG SECRETS as Whispered to the Dog Sitter

Romeo says, "Can't you see I love you?"

Romeo says, “Can’t you see I love you?”

“Don’t count the days, make the days count!”

This is what owner Riina Cooke chose to do when she learned the devastating news from her Vet in November, 2013. Riina’s vet informed Riina that her dog, Romeo the boxer, had an incurable form of cancer called ostecarcomia. The cancer on Romeo’s left leg would eventually burst and spread quickly throughout his body. Because of his health condition, the vet could not amputate Romeo’s leg. In short, Romeo’s cancer was terminal!

Still reeling from the shock, Riina realized that if she focused on her sadness, her pain would be felt by Romeo. “Transferring my negative painful feeling to Romeo,” she believed, “could easily cause him to be unhappy possibly accelerating the spread of the cancer.” Loving Romeo with all her heart, Riina decided to provide Romeo with as much fun as possible in his last days. Thus the idea of the bucket list was born.

Riina’s personal goal was to provide Romeo with so much fun that he would live until February 27th when he would be nine years old. At nine year’s old, Riina believes that as a boxer, “Romeo would have lived a full life.” That was her wish for Romeo. Now her wish has been fulfilled and Romeo has already lived three times longer than anticipated for the severity of his cancer.

March 16, 2014.  Romeo took his last breath in the tender arms of his mom in his own home.  Romeo will be cremated at Until We Meet Again in North Vancouver, BC, Canada. 

             We all miss Romeo and keep his loving spirit alive in our hearts. 

Now, back to the Bucket List and the last wonderful months of Romeo’s life!

Romeo says, "Now I am officially one of the fire squad and having the time of my life!"

Romeo says, “Now I am officially one of the fire squad and having the time of my life!”


As the two articles show that follow from Metro and Global News, Romeo has joyously received many wishes come true from his Bucket List. The wishes range all the way from riding in the Coquitlam Fire Truck as one of the Firefighters to having the lavish attention of Bif Naked, the young rock star who herself overcame cancer, to having a blind date with another boxer also suffering with cancer.

In talking with Riina when asked what was her fondest memory shared with Romeo that she would cherish forever, Riina had to stop and think. Finally she replied,

“The nothing things we do mean everything to me.”

There is something very special abut sharing precious moments alone with your dog...just him and me!

There is something very special about sharing precious moments alone with your dog…just him and me!


The tender-hearted dog owner explained, “I love when Romeo and me are alone at the park and holding each other—also on the couch when Romeo comes up and snuggles next to me. During these precious shared moments, there is nothing else to focus on…simply the shared love we have for each other expressing itself.”

When asked how her experience with Romeo has enriched her life, Riina said, “Romeo is the only one who has stood by me. He taught me responsibility and to be the person I am. Romeo knows when I am upset and puts his little head on my lap as if saying, “Don’t worry Mom.”

Riina then went on to tell me that Romeo is a natural born therapy dog. Her dog, Romeo, helps her out at her work with children experiencing developmental disabilities. She says, “Romeo never jumps up on the children, and lies next to them nourishing them with his peaceful presence. Often Romeo can be seen helping a special child who has difficulty walking. Although this little girl holds Romeo’s leash, it is only with her little finger. For the little girl’s sake, Romeo pretends this little girl patient is walking him. When she approaches a curb, Romeo stops and the little girl follows his lead.”

Nothing is more precious than knowing you are loved!

Nothing is more precious than knowing you are loved!

Because this is the first dog that Riina has owned, she is feeling her way through the quagmire of what to do at the end. When asked if she believes that Romeo knows that he will soon make his transition to Rainbow Bridge, Riina said that the sadness she often sees in Romeo’s eyes tells her that he knows. She thinks that when Romeo looks her straight through the eyes, that will be his signal that he is ready. Meanwhile, she believes that Romeo has an enormous zest for life. He has already tripled his time alive. Riina says, “Romeo’s spirit wants to run and play, but I can’t let him off the leash. He would fracture his leg and that would be the end. I won’t risk losing him. Romeo’s spirit is high, and he acts like a young dog.”

The proud owner explains that Romeo has many friends. Some of his closest friends are her husband, John, who Romeo adores because he is more calm natured than she is. Romeo loves to bask in John’s company and even accompany him to the bar for a beer as part of the bucket list. Riina confided that Romeo helped her choose her husband. He passed Romeo’s test while out on a walk in the park. Another most dear friend and his buddy, is Yoshi—a Boston Terrier crossed with Pug. Yoshi and two cats live with Romeo. Yoshi has always been affectionate with Romeo. Now that Yoshi senses Romeo is sick, he is protective. A German Shepard was advancing quickly on Romeo, and Yoshi came between them shooing the German Shepard away. Of course, on the human side, there is the singer, Bif Naked, who loves Romeo and has posted him on her own Facebook Page.

There have been thousands of visitors to Romeo the Boxer’s Facebook page. Romeo has many fans, and many people and pets are being impacted by Romeo and his bucket list. When asked if Riina has a special message to impart to Romeo’s friends, she says, “Enjoy each other and moments together before the passing. Why cry and make your pet sad, instead make the last days the best days of your pet’s life!”

PS: Because Romeo made his transition this same day I was finishing my story, not only am  I am including the following articles from Metro and Global News, I will also include a prayer for Romeo. You are invited to pray with me and Romeo’s many friends. I am sure that I am not alone in shedding precious tears in memory of this great dog, Romeo. For me, Romeo is a CANINE HERO OF THE HEART!.

Coquitlam woman makes a ‘bucket list’ for her dying dog
By Sam Smith For Metro
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The bonds between human and dog are inseparable!

The bonds between human and dog are inseparable!


Contributed/ Riina Cooke is helping her dog Romeo, an 8-year-old boxer with osteosarcoma, fulfill a “bucket list” of things to do before he passes.

It’s never easy to watch a loved one depart from this world, even if it is a family pet.
But for Coquitlam’s Riina Cooke, when she found out in November of 2013 her then eight-year-old boxer named Romeo had osteosarcoma (a cancer that literally bursts the bone from the inside-out) in his left-hind leg, she decided to help him live his last few months to the fullest.

“It’s his ninth birthday today,” Cooke said on Thursday. “We didn’t think he was going to make it this far.”

We take took Romeo for a paw-dicure, followed by doggy-icecream at Rocky Point Park, and finally for a small jaunt around the area.

“I haven’t been able to do too much with him because of his condition, but we took him into the vet and his condition hasn’t worsened this week,” she said.

Romeo got the chance to ride inside a fire truck as one of the items on his bucket list.
Cooke has posted Romeo’s journey so far on Facebook, starting with small things like getting him a McDonald’s cheeseburger, travelling out to his favourite trails, and taking time to reminisce about the past.

“These were Romeo’s happiest times!” Cooke wrote on Facebook, touching on Romeo’s early life living on a farm. “Acres and acres to run around on with his little brother Yoshi the Boston/Pug, my horses and he even loved my cats. (Still sleeps with them).”

But what started small quickly grew, and in the past couple months Romeo has met with Bif Naked and was even treated to a special steak dinner made by The Keg that was delivered to Lafarge Lake.

Romeo is on the quad ready to put out the fires!

Romeo is on the quad ready to put out the fires!


Romeo has also had the chance to ride in a fire truck and a police cruiser.

Normally veterinarians would be able to amputate the part of the body the tumor is found, but due to Romeo’s other underlying medical conditions that wasn’t an option.

It’s not yet known how much longer Romeo has to live, but a post in the “Osteosarcoma in dogs” Facebook group Cooke said, “Well the end is coming near for sweet Romeo. He has been favouring that leg more this week so we took him in last night to get x-rays. Vet discovered he has a pathological fracture he’s still walking ok but toe taps when standing still. Heart breaking[.]”

Since Romeo’s story went public, Cooke has also seen an outcry of public support which she says makes the difficult journey a bit easier.

“I’ve had people from all over message me,” Cooke said. “They’re saying it’s helped them greave with their dogs and are starting to look at it from a positive point of view, just like we did with Romeo.”

This weekend Cooke is planning to throw a party for Romeo at Lafarge Lake and is inviting her friends and their pups from the Rescue A Boxer organization.

Dog with terminal cancer gets bucket list full of steak, celebrity, adventure
By Christine Tam Global News

"WOW!  Aren't I a lucky dog meeting Bif Naked!"

“WOW! Aren’t I a lucky dog meeting Bif Naked!”

Rina Cooke’s dog Romeo, who has terminal cancer, got to meet Bif Naked as part of his bucket list.

Riina Cooke says, “Don’t count the days, make the days count.”

That’s the motto behind a Coquitlam, B.C. woman’s plan to make sure her beloved dog’s last days are filled with his favourite things.

When Riina Cooke’s dog, Romeo, was diagnosed with cancer in one of his back legs in November, the dog owner was devastated.

“Osteacarcoma is not treatable. The only treatment is amputation and the rest of his body isn’t strong enough. He wasn’t a candidate,” Cooke said.

After the initial shock, Cooke decided to make sure Romeo’s last days were filled with love, steak and fun by making a bucket list for him.

So far, Romeo has had a steak dinner from the Keg, gone to the pub with his dad, rode along in a fire truck and a police car, donated cash to the Coquitlam Animal shelter to help out other dogs, had a professional massage, tried sushi and gone on a blind date with another boxer struggling with cancer.

Romeo has even met a celebrity.

“One of my favourites was meeting Bif Naked. She is also a cancer patient and she really sympathized with him and she is a huge animal lover,” Cooke said.

WATCH: Romeo’s bucket list
Romeo celebrated his ninth birthday on Saturday with a big party, but even though his spirits are still high, Cooke said he is showing signs of slowing down.

I'm having so much fun! Why me?

I’m having so much fun! Why me?


“Right now it’s day by day. The cancer is growing and it’s bursting the bone… so I don’t think he has much longer and he’s showing signs of pain today,” she said.

Cooke hopes Romeo’s story will help others who are struggling with the same grief and inspire kindness towards animals.

“I really hope his story helps other people because to me, I don’t have children and my dog is my kid and hopefully when your dog gets diagnosed with something terminal you can make the last few days count,” she said

Romeo has already inspired hundreds of people who are following his bucket list on his Facebook page.

“He is such a kind, sensitive dog, even people who are scared of dogs love him. I work with people with developmental disabilities and he comes to work with me and helps people there,” she said.

“He just has such a will to live.”

Romeo's eyes say, "I see you just the way you are.  I love you." for who you are!

Romeo’s eyes say, “I see you just the way you are. I love you for who you are!”



Divine Creation, as expressed in all living creatures: this prayer is for Romeo and his friends.

I pray and I know that Romeo is safe and at peace in Divine Hands.

Romeo has successfully moved through the gates leading to Rainbow Bridge where many canine friends have been waiting for him. Now among his new friends, Romeo is happy being in Spirit form. At last, Romeo is released of the cancer which ravaged his physical body.

From his Spirit form, Romeo sends love to his owner, Riina, to her husband who he loves and to his best canine friend and sibling, Yoshi, and to the cats with whom he lived and shared love.

Romeo was loved by so many people including the children with disabilities that he attended to, friends who followed him on Facebook, and many other dogs and other pets. To all his friends Romeo sends light, kindness and compassion. In his heart, Romeo knows that his friends will remember him and the bucket list, and will treat one another with love and joy.

Romeo’s many friends bless Romeo, his zest for life, and his legacy of True Unconditional Love and making the last moments count. They will always remember Romeo’s last message to his friends, “Enjoy each other and moments together before the passing.”

Thank you for this prayer being received and acted upon as it is released into the Divine hands of Creation.


GLAD TO BE OF SERVICE, By Blenda R Pilon; Centers for Spiritual Living, Ret. Minister
Author of DOG SECRETS as Whispered to the Dog Sitter;

I'm off to Rainbow Bridge, my friends.  Thank you for your caring.

I’m off to Rainbow Bridge, my friends. Thank you for your love and caring. Remember to be kind to one another, and to  live each day like it is your last!

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