Parker the dog

Parker, a 4-year-old boxer mix who is dying of cancer, eyes a piece of steak, one of the items on his bucket list.

Life got rough for Parker this summer.

The 4-year-old boxer mix was diagnosed with terminal cancer, then his owner abandoned him.

But now with help from an Omaha rescue group and an Iowa kennel, he’s living it up.

The rescue group, Helping Hands for Animals, created a bucket list for Parker, and people have been bringing steak, ice cream, toys and other gifts to the S&B Kountry Kennel in Glenwood, where he’s getting free care.

“All these people are coming together,” said Rose Coco, founder and president of the rescue group.

She said her group wants to make the dog’s final months special, and have dubbed this time in his life “Parker’s Dance.”

A man brought him steak, chew toys, hot dogs and ice cream.

A woman brought him a bowl of roast beef with gravy.

Another woman brought him a new bed.

A mom called the kennel and said she wanted to bring her two young children this weekend to read books to the lovable pup.

Even though the cancer is growing, Parker still has an appetite and chowed down on the meat and lapped up the ice cream.

Kennel owner Joe Huntoon said Parker still has energy and loves chasing and chewing balls.

Everyone who visits Parker is also giving him an important item on his bucket list: hugs.

Coco said her group initially connected with Parker when her organization rescued him from a Kansas shelter more than two years ago. There he was scheduled for euthanasia.

Her group thought they had found him a permanent home with an owner in Nebraska, who had the dog for two years, she said. After Parker was diagnosed with cancer in August, the owner never picked him up from Kountry Kennel, which provided him free care, including surgery.

Coco said the former owner told her that the stress of caring for a sick dog would be too much.

She said Parker is getting great care at the kennel, but her group would like to find someone who would adopt him so he could spend his final days in a home. Her group would accept a donation for his adoption but would waive any fee if necessary. She said her group would cover any of his medical care and, when his time comes, would also pay for euthanasia and related costs.

Coco said that while Parker is great with people, he would do best in a home without any other pets.

Jamie Brand, a technician at the Omaha veterinary clinic that diagnosed his aggressive cancer, said Parker probably has only a few months to live at the most. She said he’s a sweet dog and is glad he’s getting a great final run.

“”The best part is Parker doesn’t know he’s dying,” said Brand of Benson Animal Clinic. “And he’s living the high life.”

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