United States Marine veteran Robert Kugler is showing the world exactly what the term “man’s best friend” means to him.

He’s in the midst of an adventure with his ailing dog Bella, faithfully at his side. This, ladies and gents, is a story you won’t soon forget …

Kugler got Bella as a puppy nine years ago. For almost a decade, the trusty pooch and the military member have bonded in a way only a dog owner can understand — a partnership full of love, loyalty, affection and tasty treats.

Then, tragedy hit. About a year ago, Kugler was greeted with the devastating news that Bella had been stricken with a terminal disease: a diagnosis of cancer. She had advanced osteosarcoma and needed to have a leg amputated.

Given three to six months to live as the cancer steadily advanced, Kugler decided to do something about it — determined to make Bella’s last months her best. Now, 15 months later, Kugler is still traveling with Bella on a sprawling, rambling cross country trip.

A photo posted by Robert Kugler (@robkugler) on

Below Kugler explains:

Folks…this story is about a lot more than a man and his dog. This story…is about a world that desperately needs Love. It craves it. It’s creatures yearn for it. In a time when the world is so divided we are desperately grasping for something good.
I’ve been trying to spread something good over the past few years…find ways to bring people together, break down barriers…hold a beacon of light. Yet…I didn’t know which way to turn, which avenue to pursue.
Then…without even realizing it, the avenue presented itself before me. Bella…my beloved Bella. I didn’t plan a “bucket list trip,” but rather a hero’s journey…a soul searching trek to find the elixir. To explore with my best friend and see this great country. I began taking photos of her as a way to tell a story of love, friendship, resilience, awareness, and passion to explore the world around us. At a few points in time, I have lost sight of that…but I’m working my best to recognize it, not judge myself for it, and get back on track. Get back to being. Get back to peeling past the first few layers.
Bella is laying next to me in bed right now. I’m watching her chest move up and down as she breathes and her paws twitch as she dreams. She has absolutely no idea the countless lives that we have touched through sharing our story. Perhaps that’s what makes her so damned perfect.

The story is out there…people are inspired…people are smiling…people are happy to see something other than violence, unrest and murder in the news. Nonetheless, only a few good interviews have reached past the surface. I’ll do my best to share those layers with you here. Goodnight, and Much Love. -Rob n Bella

If that wasn’t enough to make you cry happy tears, check out this short video telling Robert and Bella’s story with pictures and videos: