“Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.” – Agnes Sligh Turnbull (author)
There are few creatures more loyal than a canine companion. Perhaps this is never more true than on the front lines. No one would know this better than Marine veteran Jeff DeYoung.
At the tender age of 19, DeYoung and his dog, Cena, became a team, paired by a personality test. The black lab served three tours sniffing out bombs in Afghanistan. Combat engineer DeYoung says the dog kept him warm on cold nights in the desert and provided comfort when the Marine lost seven buddies in three short weeks.
Later, Cena became his constant companion stateside. DeYoung, who suffers from PTSD, adopted Cena as his service dog in 2014. Everything changed in mid-July when the dog was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer.
“My whole adult life I’ve had Cena,” DeYoung told the Marine Corp Times. “When I was 19 overseas learning how to be responsible, I had Cena. And now I’m 27 and I’m having to say goodbye to one of the biggest pieces of my life.”
With just days remaining, DeYoung created a bucket list for his best friend, which included a final ride in a topless Jeep Wrangler.
When the time came to say goodbye, the pair indeed rode in a Jeep, top down, accompanied by a convoy of Jeeps and motorcycles as they led the procession to a celebration of Cena’s life.
More than 100 people gathered to honor the 10-year-old lab. Other vets and civilians alike gave him pets and kisses before standing silently to salute the military dog before DeYoung carried him onto the USS LST 393, a museum ship in Muskegon, Michigan, where he was euthanized.
The monetary goal established for a Go Fund Me account, which was set up to help with vet bills as well as a burial plot and statue at the Michigan War Dog Memorial, was exceeded in a matter of days.
Thank you for your service, Cena.