Knowing that a dog is nearing the end of life is never an easy thing to deal with. As they get older, their families often just get sadder over the thought of losing their best friend. However, Brendan Wiltse was not like that. He knew that his beloved dog, Khyber, needed to enjoy every day of his life no matter the circumstances.
Khyber has spent about 95% of his life by Wiltse’s side. They have been inseparable ever since the day Wiltse rescued him.
They met way back when Wiltse was a graduate student in Canada about 10 years ago. He heard about an innocent puppy being abused in a nearby drug house. Right away, he knew he had to save that dog.
At the time, he didn’t know if he was planning to keep Khyber or not. All he knew was that no matter what, he wanted to help him get out of that horrible situation. However, when he met Khyber, the puppy jumped right into his arms, and Wiltse knew that it was meant to be.
Wiltse is a professional photographer and an environmental scientist, so Khyber gets to travel with him while he works. He is also able to capture every moment that he and Khyber experience on camera.
However, their exciting travels came to a halt when Wiltse’s partner, Shelley, found a lump on Khyber’s belly. They later discovered that he had inoperable cancer, which meant he likely only had a few days to live.
Of course, Wiltse was devastated by this news. However, he knew that Khyber would not want them to spend his last days wallowing in sadness. So, Wiltse decided to allow Khyber to live his remaining days to the fullest despite the cancer.
Wiltse refers to Khyber’s remaining days as “bonus days.” Each day on his Facebook, Wiltse posts a photo of Khyber doing an activity he loves. He labels each post with the number of total days Khyber has been with him, along with the number of bonus days he’s had so far. They go on all sorts of exciting adventures including hiking, swimming and paddling together.
Khyber is still going strong with over 60 bonus days posted so far. 60 days would have been a long time to mope about Khyber’s cancer, so Wiltse is grateful that he and Khyber get to have fun together while they still can.
“We forget that we should treat every day as a bonus day with the people we love or the animals we love,” said Wiltse.
Khyber’s story has encouraged many others to live their lives to the fullest. Bad things will always happen, but it’s important for people and dogs to make the most of the life they do have. Even when Khyber eventually passes away, Wiltse will be able to remember all of the fun adventures they had instead of the sad ones.
Update 10/4/2019: Khyber’s family announced that they said goodbye to him today, and helped him cross over the Rainbow Bridge after 87 beautiful bonus days.
“We said goodbye to Khyber today. It was certainly one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make. He never gave up, never stopped being himself. Over the past week he stopped eating and the last few days he would only drink by eating ice chips or visiting the spring behind our house. He was acting like his normal playful self last night and this morning. He was even playing with his tennis ball right up to the end. This made the decision to say goodbye more difficult in the moment, but I’m happy knowing his final moments were filled with joy and not pain,” Wiltse wrote on Facebook.