MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. -- A Marine Corps veteran has put together a bucket list for his bomb-detection turned service dog Cena, who was recently diagnosed with bone cancer.
In 2009, Corporal Jeff DeYoung was deployed to Afghanistan with Cena, WXMI reports. He says the pair was a perfect match from the very beginning.
"Our first day inside the city of Marjah we were clearing an already tilled over corn field," DeYoung said. "The sun was coming up with the village in front of us so the sun was hitting our eyes. The moment the sun peaked over those buildings we took contact. We took machine gun fire from three separate places and I laid on top of Cena and hooked his collar to my flack jacket and laid on him until the threat was neutralized."
Cena went on two more tours in Afghanistan with different handlers and DeYoung retired from the Marine Corps in 2013.
When DeYoung got home, he began battling with PTSD. So in 2014, he was able to adopt Cena and make him his full-time service dog.
On July 16, he noticed Cena wasn't putting weight on his back leg. So he took him to the vet, who confirmed the diagnosis.
DeYoung is now looking to make Cena's remaining weeks enjoyable.
As part of the bucket list, DeYoung wants to borrow a Jeep Wrangler for a day to take his best friend on one last ride. He also hopes military members and law enforcement officials will be at the funeral for a hand salute.
"I think a hand salute as he's heading into the vet would be a tremendous sign of respect from the community," he told the station.
When Cena passes away, DeYoung wants to put him in an ammo can.