Portsmouth Police officer, wife create bucket list for foster dog given months to live

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. - If you hear about a dog having a "puppy-ccino," unlimited access to 100 tennis balls, and the chance to eat a Krispy Kreme donut and steak, you'd probably think the dog is just spoiled.

However, for 11-month-old German Shepherd, Zuba, these are more than just treats and rewards.

They are "to-do" items on a bucket list.

"We have right now, probably about 53 things," says Kayla Matherson, Zuba's foster mom.

Heather Duggan, director of Southeast German Shepherd Rescue Phoenix Dog Program, took in Zuba back in March. She says Zuba's former owner found out that she had kidney failure and as a result, six to nine months to live, and had to give her up.

That's when Kayla Matherson and her husband, a Portsmouth Police officer, stepped in to foster her, and make sure the six to nine months are anything but ordinary.

"Hiking, camping, which we hope to fulfill at the end of the month, a birthday party," she says, which are just some of the items on the list.

Among her most memorable moments, Zuba got to join her foster dad at the Portsmouth Police Department as an honorary canine.

She got a trip in a police car and an official K-9 badge.

"I just kind of thought  maybe meet the chief and that will be it," says Matherson. "It was pretty neat to see that, and she's a timid dog, so to see her actually start to overcome some of the obstacles was pretty incredible."

But Zuba's biggest accomplishment yet, isn't on the list.

With the overwhelming help of the community, Zuba was able to get the expensive supplements that help with liver failure and her recent tests show an improvement.

If it continues, Duggan says her life expectancy could grow to five to seven years.

"We were really, really excited," says  Duggan.

"When I tell people about her condition, the first thing they say is 'oh I feel so bad for her,' and I'm like, you shouldn't, because she does not act like anything is wrong with her," says Matherson.

Whether Zuba does not act like it or simply does not realize it, one thing is for sure.

It's a life lesson we can all learn from about living each day to the fullest.

"She probably won't live as long as a normal German Shepherd," says Duggan. "But, hopefully it'll be a lot longer than we were originally told."

Duggan says if Zuba still shows improvement at her next appointment, she may be open for adoption.

For more information on Southeast German Shepherd Rescue, visit their website. To help with Zuba's bucket list and follow her journey, visit her Facebook page.

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