Losing a dog is one of the hardest things a person can go through. After all, dogs are there for us through every step of the way, so they deserve to be honored. This is exactly how Marine Corporal Jeff DeYoung felt when he learned that his beloved dog, Cena, was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer. Not only had Cena been his loyal companion, but they had also served 3 tours overseas together.
Cena and DeYoung’s Bond
Cena and DeYoung had been together for a long time. In 2009, DeYoung was first paired with Cena, who was a talented bomb-sniffing dog. The pair grew very close during that time, and they protected each other through the most difficult parts of their service.
In 2014, Cena retired from his duties, and DeYoung decided to adopt him. From there, Cena became his service dog to help him with his post-traumatic stress disorder.
Cena always knew how to cheer DeYoung up, so he was the perfect companion. The two were inseparable from that moment on. Cena even helped DeYoung through some of the hardest moments in his life, including the 3 weeks where 7 of his friends passed away.
“My whole adult life I’ve had Cena,” DeYoung said. “When I was 19 overseas learning how to be responsible, I had Cena. And now I’m 27 and I’m having to say goodbye to one of the biggest pieces of my life.”
Hearing that Cena had bone cancer was one of the hardest moments for DeYoung. He didn’t want to say goodbye to his best friend, but he also didn’t want the 10-year-old dog to suffer any longer. So, he planned the most special farewell possible.
A Tear-Filled Farewell
DeYoung came up with a special bucket list for Cena as his final day approached. The last item was to give his furry friend one last ride so he could feel the wind. So, he rented a topless Jeep for Cena’s final drive. It was decorated and named “Cancer Response Team”.
To DeYoung’s surprise, many other Jeep owners wanted to be there for Cena. A Jeep community arrived to ride behind Cena’s Jeep. DeYoung hadn’t planned to make this drive such a big thing, but he knew that Cena deserved it.
Before they departed, hundreds of veterans and families came to say their goodbyes to Cena. DeYoung and Cena were both very grateful for all the love and support they received during this farewell ceremony.
“We may not have been the same species, but we were most definitely brothers,” said DeYoung.
Then, DeYoung and Cena rode side by side in the Jeep for the last time. When the Jeep stopped, DeYoung carried the sweet dog to the USS LST 393, a museum ship in Muskegon, Michigan. They decided that it would be the most appropriate place to say goodbye to Cena. After it was over, Cena was carried out in a flag-draped coffin.
Losing Cena was incredibly difficult for DeYoung, but he is so grateful for the time he had with him. Cena and DeYoung had a special bond, and they helped each other through all the highs and lows in their lives. Cena will never be forgotten because he made such a lasting impact on the world, and he will forever be in the hearts of everyone who knew him.
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