And for one man, his beloved dog was there when he needed him the most: on his death bed. It’s a sad story, but one that ultimately shows the beautiful bond that exists between people and their pets.
John Vincent, a veteran Marine who served in Vietnam, is facing the end of his life. The 69-year-old was admitted to hospice care at Raymond G. Murphy Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Sadly, this also meant having to part ways with his beloved dog, Patch, a 5-year-old Yorkshire terrier. Since he had no family in the area, he surrendered the dog to Albuquerque Animal Welfare.
John is likely in his final days, so Amy Neal, a palliative care social worker, asked him if he had any final requests.
For John, the choice was simple: he just wanted to see his dog one more time.
Moved by his dying wish, the workers decided to make it happen, setting up a beautiful final reunion between the man and his dog.
“I asked him if that’s something that would be meaningful for him,” Amy Neal told the Albuquerque Journal. “And it came together very quickly.”
“When the request came in, it was an immediate ‘absolutely,’ and let’s do whatever we can to get it done,” said Danny Nevarez, director of Animal Welfare. “It was as simple as getting Patch over here.”
Team members from Albuquerque Animal Welfare brought Patch to the hospice. John was deeply moved to see his old friend again:
“Yeah, that’s me, that’s daddy,” Vincent said to Patch. “Are you so happy to see me? I’m so happy to see you.”
Patch was reportedly quiet during the ride, but became emotional as they approached the hospital.
“It’s almost like he knew, he just started whimpering,” Nevares told the Journal. “Like he had that anticipation.”
Vincent adopted Patch when a neighbor had a litter of puppies. He named the dog after his little patch of white fur, which matched John’s sole patch of white chin hair.
“We were the patch brothers,” Vincent said. He says he also liked that Patch was the smallest of the litter, so he could take him for rides on his motorcycle.
It was a touching reunion between two old friends. Sadly, it is likely to be their final farewell.
Still, it is nice that they were able to make the reunion possible, giving the vet a little bit of joy in his final moments.
“It was such a heart warming moment!” Albuquerque Animal Welfare wrote on Facebook. “They were so happy to see each other and to say their good byes.”
“It was an honor to make this veterans final wish come true.”
And if there’s a silver lining, it’s that Patch will still be well taken care of when his owner is gone.
He has returned to the animal shelter where he is looking for a new home—and Animal Welfare says they have an interested adopter lined up.
But of course, part of his heart will always be with John.
It’s a beautiful, bittersweet story that shows how sometimes our pets really are our best friends, even in our final hours.
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