Dogs are man's best friends — and for some friends, the bond can last a lifetime.
That was the case for Stuart Hutchinson and his French bulldog, Nero. Hutchinson, 25, passed away from cancer on Aug. 11, shortly followed by his beloved pup's death from an unknown illness.
"(Hutchinson and his wife, Danielle) had three dogs, Nala, Nero and their puppy, Amelia, but Nero was Stuart's favorite," Hutchinson's mother, Fiona Conaghen, told TODAY. "Nero was the one who got the extra walks, I think because he was the friendliest and least bouncy."
In July 2011, Hutchinson was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After multiple rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and two surgeries, he was declared cancer-free, but another cancerous tumor was found on his neck in 2014.
The neck tumor was removed but the cancer returned again at the end of 2018. This time, Hutchinson was offered palliative chemotherapy, and he spent the year marking milestones, including marrying his childhood sweetheart in Jan. 2019 and spending time with his pets and family at home.
Throughout his ups and downs, Nero was by his side, but on the day Hutchinson died at his mother's house, Nero was at Hutchinson's home. Just after Hutchinson passed, his wife, Danielle, broke her glasses, so her father returned to Hutchinson's home to get a replacement pair. When he arrived at the house, he found Nero ill and brought him to a veterinarian's office.
"We don't really know what happened to Nero, but he was okay when he was let out to the garden a couple of hours previously," Conaghen explained. "The vet said it was something to do with a rupture of something in his spine, he believed, but no one is sure."
Conaghen estimates that Nero passed just ten or 15 minutes after Hutchinson. The pair was buried together at a local cemetery in a plot alongside Hutchinson's grandparents.