Man Takes Dying Dog on an N.Y.C. Bucket List Adventure

updated 07/26/2014 AT 5:15 PM ET

originally published 07/23/2014 AT 4:05 PM ET

When one New Yorker learned his dog was dying, he decided he didn’t want to wait until his pet’s last day on earth to give his friend of 16 years a special experience.

In early July, James Garcia received some heartbreaking news: His loyal dog Elmo had a host of canine ailments, from liver cancer to kidney failure, and would have only a few months to live. Wanting to make the most of the last days of the dog he co-parents with his ex, Garcia made a bucket list – the two of them would spend their final summer together on a series of magical N.Y.C. adventures.

Their list of destinations was any tourist’s dream: Shake Shack, MoMA, the beach and more.

The lucky pup got to watch the sun set during Manhattanhenge, and even met one of the Times Square Elmos with whom he shares a name. (This one, fortunately, was not a criminal.)

“I never wanted him to feel lonely in the apartment and he loves the outdoors so much,” Garcia explained to Buzzfeed. “He goes with me to restaurants, grocery shopping, and naps in the park.”

What makes Elmo so special is his personality,” Garcia told PEOPLE. “He’s sweet and cuddly as well as stubborn.”

Because Elmo can’t walk, Garcia wheels him around the city in a baby stroller. He loves it.

“Soon after learning of Elmo’s diagnosis, I felt it was important to share new experiences with him as well as share some of my favorite N.Y.C. hang out spots,” Garcia said. “This experience of sharing has helped me cope with his fate and created memories that will last a lifetime.”

James doesn’t know how long exactly Elmo has left, but wherever the dog goes, his loving owner will be by his side.


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