Kathryne recalled when she and Essam met LJ in July 2012, at an animal rescue farm in Dallas, Pa.
"When we took him for a walk he almost pranced around the farm — he was just full of happiness," Kathryne said. "Everyone we passed who worked there greeted him with a huge smile and a hug. When we got back to his kennel after his walk he looked at us and melted our hearts with his big hazel eyes.
"At that moment, we knew we couldn't leave without him," she said.
When they brought LJ to his new home on Dumbarton Road, he settled right in and made himself at home.
The Shomalis often wonder about LJ's curious ways. Not many dogs, for example, will put themselves to bed when they've had enough of the day.
"It doesn't happen at any specific time, but whenever he's ready, he gets up, goes upstairs and gets in his bed," Essam said. "We could be doing anything and he just gets up and walks away. Doesn't look at us, doesn't say good night — just gets up and goes."
There are 15 items on LJ's Bucket List, but the list could grow. Several people have offered to assist with few items, such as No. 11-Have a birthday party with friends will be off-the-leash fabulous with a guest list including new friends Carmine, Mina, Shelly, Wyatt and a parakeet named Rocky, all new friends in Rodgers Forge. There's talk that the party be complete with a doggy biscuit bar and tennis ball station. There's also rumor that No. 2 –Riding in a fire truck — could soon be fulfilled.
"We are having a lot of fun, too," he said.
The neighborhood has been abuzz with the news about LJ and his bucket list.
Chelsea Howe said, LJ's story "almost made me cry. We recently lost our dog to cancer." She offered advice to the Shomalis: "Take advantage and enjoy every moment you have left."
Said Amy Petrica, "Sounds like he adopted a very loving and thoughtful family. Smart dog."
Neighbors want to help, but there is one item on LJ's Bucket List that only the Shomalis can help him accomplish. No. 15-Meet Baby Shomali.
Kathryne and Essam are expecting their first child in December and they hope LJ responds well enough to treatment to meet their baby.
"LJ is really enjoying working through his bucket list," Essam said.
Karen Arnett de Rodriguez is Rodgers Forge neighborhood columnist for the Towson Times.