Bucket List

Jimmy Dean checks off a bucket list item with Daisy Mountain Fire Station 146

Jimmy Dean, a 14-year-old dog, takes a spin in a fire engine at Daisy Mountain Fire and Medical’s Station 146 while being an honorary firefighter for the day, which is part of his bucket list. You can follow Jimmy Dean on his bucket list adventure by visiting Rusty’s Angels Dog Sanctuary on Facebook or Instagram. (Video by Tara Alatorre)


NEW RIVER – Everyone has a bucket list, a checklist of life experiences and goals they want to accomplish before leaving this world.  But have you ever wondered what a dog’s bucket list might look like? 

Well Emilee Spear the founder of Rusty’s Angels, which is a senior dog sanctuary in New River that rescues elderly dogs, trying to re-home them or providing them with care and comfort until the end, has done just that.  She recently created a bucket list for Jimmy Dean, a 14-year-old dog that has been with Rusty’s Angels for one year and was diagnosed with bladder cancer about two weeks ago.

Jimmy Dean sits on a fire engine next to a Fido Bag while checking off one of his bucket list items, which was being a fireman for the day at Daisy Mountain Fire Department’s Station 146 on July 19. (Photos by Tara Alatorre)

Spear says that Jimmy Dean is one of her favorite dogs at the sanctuary and she could never understand why no one showed any interest in adopting him. His diagnosis hit Spear hard, so she decided she wanted Jimmy Dean to go out with a bang.

“He loves being in public and going to events, so we think it is fitting that we knock a few more things of his bucket list,” Spear stated in a Facebook post on July 16.

Rusty’s Angels created a bucket list and fundraiser for Jimmy Dean on social media. Since then hundreds of followers have been watching Jimmy Dean complete his bucket list items, offering suggestions, support and donating over $2,000 in just seven days.

One of the bucket list items was being a firefighter for a day, and Daisy Mountain Fire and Medical (DMFM) invited Jimmy Dean to Fire Station 146 on July 19, in New River to help add another check to his list.

DMFM’s Paul Schickel showing Jimmy Dean how a Fido Bag is administered, which provides life-saving oxygen to animals rescued from fires.

“I have become attached to him, and I think he is amazing. We take him to events, and he is so chill, and so I was always wondering why isn’t he being adopted?” Spear said at the fire station on July 19.  “Well, now I think he was supposed to stay with us because this diagnosis was coming.”

Jimmy Dean seemed right at home the moment he walked into the station.  He was immediately met with smiles and snuggles by the crew at the newly remodeled Fire Station 146, which is located on New River Road near 31st Avenue.

Paul Schickel, DMFM’s Community Services Program Coordinator, helped arrange the day so Jimmy Dean could become an honorary fireman. He was there to give Jimmy Dean the full experience and tour of the station, fire truck ride included.

Jimmy Dean and Emilee Spear of Rusty’s Angels get a ride in the fire engine, checking off a bucket list item for the 14-year-old dog that was diagnosed with bladder cancer about two weeks ago.

The dog hung out in the lounge with the firefighters, got his fitness on in the gym, checked out the equipment and turnouts and learned about the Fido Bag from the Fetch Foundation, which allows firefighters to administer oxygen to animals.

He also saw the humungous brush fire truck, posing on the tires for a few pictures, and went on ride in the DMFM engine, sirens and all.

“Wow Jimmy you’re a natural,” Spear said while smiling and holding the dog in the fire truck as Jimmy Dean looked cool as a cucumber. “You’re such a good boy!”

Jimmy Dean, a 14-year-old dog recently diagnosed with cancer gets to be a firefighter for the day at DMFM’s Station 146.

Jimmy Dean has already checked off being CEO for the day at Rusty’s Angels, getting a Starbucks “puppachino,” sleeping in his mom’s [Spear] bed, having a swim day and going to the beach in San Diego.

“With old dogs it is not very often we get a definitive diagnosis,” Spear said.  “With him we actually know what we are dealing with and bladder cancer is very aggressive…in his case it’s late-stage.  I just thought you know, what the heck, lets do this for him and people have been amazing!”

He still has going up north in the pines, a photoshoot, a fancy dinner night at Carwright’s in Cave Creek and a going away party to check off his list.

“Thank you once again for always being here for us through the ups and downs. Rescuing senior dogs is not always easy but regardless of what hand we are dealt we make the best of it with unconditional love until the very end. You make that possible!” Spear stated on Jimmy Dean’s fundraiser page.

Spear and Jimmy Dean check out the equipment and turnout room at Daisy Mountain Fire Department’s Station 146 in New River.

You can follow Jimmy Dean on his bucket list journey on Rusty’s Angels Facebook and Instagram pages. 

You can donate to the bucket list on Facebook, through PayPal or by mail just be sure to make a note that it is for Jimmy Dean’s Bucket list. Donate through PayPal at www.rustysangelssanctuary.org click the Donate button. Donate by sending a check to PO Box 74031 Phoenix, Az 85087.

The crew at Station 146 made Jimmy Dean an honorary firefighter for the day, complete with a ride in the fire truck and plenty of attention from the crew.