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Kansas woman’s cousin in Oregon gets her dying wish - to play with puppies

Leslee Kirkendall of Milwaukie, Oregon is dying of stage 4 cancer. Her dying request is to spend some time playing with puppies.
Leslee Kirkendall of Milwaukie, Oregon is dying of stage 4 cancer. Her dying request is to spend some time playing with puppies. OregonLive.com

Leslee Kirkendall of Milwaukie, Oregon is dying of ovarian cancer. Last month she posted a rather unusual ad on Craigslist.

Tom Hallman Jr. of The Oregonian called people’s attention to it.

“You hear Leslee Kirkendall’s story and it's easy to feel helpless,” Hallman wrote last week. “But there's something you can do if you have a puppy and can spare 30 minutes or so to make a dying woman happy.”

Here’s what Kirkendall posted on Craiglist:

“This may sound silly, but I have adored and rescued dogs my whole life...I have stage 4 cancer and one of my last wishes is to simply..sit on the floor with a bunch of puppies and play with them for a hour and leave,,,thats all ..if you have a litter of pups around 8 weeks I can just play with no strings attached or be a bother let me know ...”

Kirkendall, who has no children, had three dogs she treated like family. But she had to give them away when she got sick.

Hallman reported that Kirkendall is in home hospice care and isn’t sure how much time she has left to live.

Her cousin, Gayle Ferrell of Hutchinson, Kan., told Hallman that it’s been difficult for Kirkendall to give up her independence.

“She has a good spirit, and she refuses to give up,” said Ferrell, who traveled to Oregon to visit her cousin. “She’s trying to live each day to the fullest.”

Kirkendall had received just two replies to her Craigslist request and neither panned out.

But thanks to Hallman’s story on Oregonlive.com – mentioned on Facebook pages, pet websites and People.com – more than 200 people came forward offering puppies for play time.

Now Kirkendall has a new, albeit welcome, dilemma.

“The outpouring has been fabulous,” she told Hallman this week. “But it is simply more than I can do. I'm sorry that I could not return everyone's calls.”

         
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