John Mills has had some rough times in the past few years, battling two heart attacks and three cancer attacks.
His new best friend Charlie, a rescue dog from K9, is in a similar situation, who only has six to twelve months to live after being diagnosed with cancer.
Mr Mills tells Charlie that he had a wonderful dog for 15 years and thought it would be too hard to replace his longtime pet.
But one Saturday morning he was scrolling through Facebook and saw the K9 post from Charlie (then known as Taco) and something just clicked.
“People get dogs on knee-jerk reaction, it wasn’t like that for me, it’s a very important thing, like having a child.”
“I just saw that face,” recalls Mr. Mills. “Cancer has come back on me three times … I don’t know if that’s why I became so attracted to Charlie. I figured if she’s only got 6-12 months I’ll make sure they’re good.”
He says he wasn’t given a great chance of survival either, but he has made a full recovery so he and his new best friend “stay positive” together.
Pool builder Sunseeker Pools, Mr. Mills, was happily designing a pool about five years ago when he first noticed something was wrong with his health.
“I felt weird, I had a heart attack out of nowhere. I called an ambulance, but then canceled it and tried to drive myself.”
He says he died on the operating table for four minutes, but was back on duty a few days later.
“If you’re self-employed, you have to do that,” he says.
Doctors found four tumors in his intestines and painstaking treatment began with chemotherapy, radiation, and an operation to remove part of his intestines.
“A couple of scans later they found a tumor in my liver, not long after another one in my lungs. I’ve died a few more times in recovery, but now I’m pretty normal again.”
I thought if she’s only got 6-12 months then I’ll make sure they’re good.
He says his coping method was to joke about his health problems, and while that upset some people, it was his way of dealing with it.
“You can either curl up in a ball and give up, or go on and laugh.”
He says he would give up Charlie “for nothing” now and some of his favorite moments are driving a car with her head on his shoulder.
“She made a name for herself with us,” he says.
“My partner is great with her and she loves her as much as I do. We talk to her as if she were our child. She knows she’s here forever.
“When we took her to K9 to have her stitches removed, she panicked. I think she thought we were going to bring her back. When she realized she was coming home with us, she was fine. She feels safer now. “