Bella, the chocolate lab that's been on a bucket list journey with her owner, has died.
Robert Kugler and Bella were thrust into internet fame when the pair embarked on an Instagram-worthy road trip earlier this summer. Bella was diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and given just a few months to live, so Kugler decided to take to the road and make his best friend's last days her best days.
I wasn't sure if I would ever share this photo...as it's the last intimate moment that I spent with Bella. Yet...as I wondered this morning what will come of this social media following...what the purpose of sharing has been, and what it will now grow into after her passing...I remembered that there is such an opportunity to help others as they go through their own losses, or have pain the memories of their loss. As I'm struggling today with the fact that I didn't get to give Bella her picturesque waterside passing, I am reminded of our final goodbye. Instead of leaving her at the vet, I drove her to the crematorium and carried her from my vehicle myself. When it came time to leave...I couldn't. I couldn't just leave her there. My heart was crushed into a thousand pieces...my mind was spinning and my chest was full of anxiety. I felt it all happened too fast. I had so much time to say goodbye, but I hadn't really told her goodbye. I hadn't prepared her. I hand't done enough..and now I was just leaving her. How will I ever forgive myself for just leaving her there? Then...I caught myself. I knew what I needed to do. I went back to her perfectly beautiful body...kneeled down, placed my hand on her chest, and found my breath. Perhaps for merely even a minute or two...I breathed in...filling my lungs and my belly...and I breathed out. The world slowed down, along with my mind and heart. I told Bella that I was sending her all of my Love...and asked her to send me all of mine. I kissed her forehead one last time...and then remembered I could now kiss that beautiful nose of hers once again now that it was no longer in pain. I told her I Loved her...and left feeling fulfilled...and at peace. Perhaps this peace...has been what I've been searching for all along. Hopefully in my sharing this, you can remember to find your breath...and your breath can bring you your peace. Hang in there, #TeamRobandBella, we're still together in this thing called life...and what a beautiful thing it can be.
A photo posted by Robert Kugler (@robkugler) on
Kugler posted about Bella's death on Instagram just a few days after he was featured on 9NEWS because his rare bike was stolen. Kugler says his irreplaceable bike was stolen from the back of his 4Runner while he was in Fort Collins.
The bike was on loan to him from the Ride2Recovery organization, a group that helps veterans heal with cycling after service.
"This is a lot more than a bicycle I could pick up at the store," Kugler said. "This was given to me by an organization, ridden previously by a Vietnam veteran, a friend of mine, who had given it to me after he was done riding it. It has a lot of nostalgic value to me."