By Robert Firth
An ageing pooch is making the most of his retirement thanks to a bucket list to ensure he achieves all his dreams before passing to doggy heaven.
Elderly staffie ‘Grandad’ Zach, 16, has so far enjoyed a McDonald’s double cheeseburger, a steak dinner, fancy meal out and Starbucks puppuccino as part of his adorable bucket list challenge.
Staff at the Dogs 4 Rescue sanctuary in Eccles, Gtr Manchester, decided to draw up Zach a bucket list after realising his health was taking a turn for the worse due to his Alzheimer’s and spondylosis, a spinal cord condition.
The pooch, known for his trademark old man cardigan, has been living at the shelter since October 2018, after Dogs 4 Rescue founder Emma Billington, 41, rescued him from a pound where he was due to be put down the next day.
The animal lover said: “Grandad Zach’s bucket list is about enriching the last few weeks of his life.
“We don’t know exactly how long he has left, but we can see he’s slowing down and getting more tired.
“The bucket list is a way of preparing for his passing – we wanted to cram all the things he loves into it.
“Grandad loves getting out and about and going new places. He watches out of the window; he gets really pumped up.
“And as soon as we put a rare treat like a cheeseburger in front of him, he is filled with joy.
“People love him. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and I’m so glad we rescued him.
“We took him out to a restaurant in Manchester recently and people loved meeting him in the flesh. He is a true character.”
Grandad Zach became a Dogs 4 Rescue sanctuary dog due to his ailments which made him difficult to rehome.
His dementia causes him to blank out and means he forgets where to go to the toilet.
Zach will now spend the rest of his doggie days at the rescue, where he has rapidly become its biggest name since arriving there 15 months ago.
Dogs 4 Rescue is the pioneering kennel-free and open plan dogs’ rescue centre in the UK and is currently home to 45 dogs, 25 of which are actively looking for forever homes. Another 13 dogs arrive this weekend, all hoping to be adopted by a loving family.
Emma said: “Grandad Zach is popular with all the other dogs here.
“He walks up and down the kitchen, like he is forgetting what he is doing, then curls up with one of the dogs for a sleep.
“He takes great comfort from snuggling and his favourite buddy is a big Kangal dog, blind Jessie.
“He is funny and sweet.”
As well as feasting on his favourite foods, Grandad Zach has enjoyed a snooze in front of a log burning fire, starred in his own photo-shoot and enjoyed daily cuddles with his supporters since beginning the bucket list.
Despite ticking many of these activities off, a few dreams remain unfulfilled as the pampered pooch is yet to visit Blackpool, go to the beach and have a massage.
And to fund these final treats and help other dogs in need, the sanctuary are asking people to donate to a memorial fund in his name.
Emma said: “Zach has had an incredible life here and we love caring for him.
“He could have a week; he could have a month. He could surprise us all!
“One thing is for sure, it won’t be the same without his pitter, patter up and down here and there will be many broken hearts when the time comes to say goodbye.”
To donate: go to https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/GrandadZachsLegacy