Meeting Sir Purr, enjoying an ice cream and educating others are just a few things Stella wants to do in her last weeks of life.
Rescued from a life of chains and overbreeding, Queen Stella, a 13-year-old English bulldog, found a best friend in Jacki Bagwell, vice president of Atlantic Rottweiler Rescue and Friends, a nonprofit dog rescue in Mooresville.
Bagwell saw Stella sitting alone in a shelter after animal control found her as a stray. Stella was never spayed and was overbred; as a result she suffers from mammary gland cancer that has spread to her lungs, and heartworms have caused heart failure.
Though Stella wasn’t given a good prognosis, Bagwell said she was determined to give her at least one night of love and care.
“She had no enjoyment in life,” Bagwell said. “I wanted to give her something.”
That one night, however, has turned into almost two weeks. Now, Bagwell said, Stella wants to experience everything she never got to.
“She decided she wants to fight, so we are all going to fight with her,” Bagwell said. “She loves life.”
Bagwell and Susan Faulkner, owner of 4 Paws Pet Salon in Mooresville, created a bucket list for Stella.
So far, Stella has been able to participate in Bark For Life – Lake Norman, where she was crowned the cutest/most courageous dog.
Stella has also accomplished being on the news and spreading awareness for pet responsibility. Stella’s suffering could have been prevented with the right care, Bagwell said.
Faulkner said people should research breeds and the costs of caring for a pet before they decide to become pet owners.
“Don’t buy a dog just because you think it is cute,” she said.
Purebred dogs can also be found at many local shelters, not just from breeders, Faulkner said.
“You can save a life,” she said.
Stella is the prime example of that.
“She has realized there are things in life that she wants to do and see,” Faulkner said. “She would have been dead.”
Though she can’t hear and can barely see, Stella has committed, Bagwell said, to learning what life has to offer.
“She doesn’t want to stop,” she said. “She’s got willpower.”
Still left on Stella’s bucket list are trips to the Dog Bar in Charlotte to get a doggie beer and to Bruster’s to get a doggie ice cream.
People can help prevent other dogs from deteriorating into a condition like Stella’s by spaying and neutering their pets, providing preventive health care and committing to their pet for its entire life, Faulkner said.
Those who wish to help can volunteer or donate items to local shelters, including blankets, towels, old newspapers and food bowls, Bagwell said.
Mooresville volunteers can help Atlantic Rottweiler Rescue and Friends find forever homes for pets from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month at Petco, 611 River Highway.
For Stella, educating pet owners and enjoying life are her top priorities, Bagwell said: “She wants to make everybody happy.”