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Buddy spends most days grinning and merrily wagging his tail.

In recent weeks, the Labrador retriever mix has experienced numerous canine joys: hiking, chasing geese, lapping ice cream, even palling around as an honorary firehouse member.

“He’s just been adoring it,” said Loren Cazan, his new “Humom” since early March. “He feels like a rock star. Everybody comes to pet him and he thinks everybody’s there to see him and it’s actually true. It’s really cool.”

There are more adventures and treats for the 14-year-old — but not much time.

Shortly after his longtime owner died, Buddy was diagnosed with mast cell cancer. At his age, a veterinarian determined he couldn’t survive surgery. So, as his final days approach, Cazan and supporters at A ReJoyceful Animal Rescue in Mount Clemens devised a “bucket list” of places for the pooch to visit, fun to seek, treasures to paw.

A Facebook page showing his progress has since drawn more than 5,600 “likes” and sparked international media attention.

“Absolutely love this precious furbaby and never even met him!!! So thankful to have found his story and enjoy seeing his beautiful journey!! Thank you for sharing and allowing us to feel a part of his journey!” one Facebook visitor said.

“Buddy, you're a star! You are one lucky pup,” another person commented.

Meanwhile, as Buddy’s friends seek help for his care and other rescues through a T-shirt sale, they also are raising awareness.

“A lot of these senior and special-needs dogs are euthanized because there is limited space in shelters, because there is limited interest in them over younger puppies or younger dogs,” Cazan said. “Most of them are not terminal … They can provide such a source joy for a family or somebody looking to add a pet in their life. I want people to know they can consider them.”

A relative of Buddy’s owner turned to area rescue groups about housing him. Cazan, a firefighter from Groveland Township and ReJoyceful volunteer, immediately was smitten. “The story of how he came looking for a home really pulled at my heartstrings. So I said: ‘Little dude, you’re coming home with me’.”

But soon after, Cazan noticed lumps, some as large as softballs, under his light coat. A biopsy confirmed terminal cancer.

The diagnosis pushed Cazan to fulfill the first item on the “bucket list”: formal adoption. “I didn’t want him to spend his last days not having a real home.”

Since joining Cazan’s other rescues, Marty McFly and Louie, Buddy has ticked off many exciting developments — devouring fast food, riding in a car with his head proudly hanging out the window, even a “date.”

Next up: a steak dinner and, hopefully, a trip to the beach. “If we’re given more time with him, we’re just going to continue to fill his life with the things that make him happy,” Cazan said.

Become a buddy

To order a T-shirt and become a member of “Buddy’s Buddies,” go to bit.ly/BUDDYSbuddies. Proceeds go to A ReJoyceful Animal Rescue to help Buddy and other animals, according to Buddy’s Bucket List Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BuddysCancerBucketList/.

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