Knowing that it was only a matter of time before he leaves this world, a war veteran in hospice care had one final wish – to see his dog for one last time.
When a person is living the end of his life, the yearning to be surrounded by the people and things that truly matter to him strengthens. New Mexico resident John Vincent, who just entered hospice care last week, understood this feeling all too well.
For years, he had been living with his five-year-old Yorkshire terrier named Patch. But due to his failing health, he had to surrender the pup to Albuquerque Animal Welfare. Doctors say that the 69-year-old didn’t have much time left. So last week, John told a social worker at the hospice center about his final request – to see Patch for one last time.
On Thursday, that wish came true when the animal shelter brought Patch to the hospice center at Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center. “Yeah, that’s me. That’s daddy,” John said as the pup jumped onto his lap and licked his face. “Are you happy to see me? I’m so happy to see you.”
Animal welfare took a few snapshots of the sweet reunion and shared the heartwarming photos on their Facebook page. “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,” they wrote.
“I asked him if that’s something that would be meaningful for him. And it came together very quickly,” a palliative care social worker named Amy Neal, told the Albuquerque Journal about the making the pet and owner reunion come true. Even though making the arrangements was easy, Amy shared that John himself couldn’t believe that it would really happen.
“When I reminded him this morning that they were coming, he goes, ‘Is this really happening?'” she said.
“When the request came in, it was an immediate “absolutely,” and let’s do whatever we can to get it done,” the director of the Animal Welfare, Danny Nevarez, said. “It was as simple as getting Patch over here.” Danny shared that the pup was quiet throughout their journey going to the hospice, but started to cry upon seeing the owner that he obviously missed a lot.
“It’s almost like he knew, he just started whimpering,” Danny said. “Like he had that anticipation.”
According to the Albuquerque Journal, John was born in Montana and raised on a ranch. He enlisted in the Marines when he was still young and served for three years including in Vietnam.
“I always went where the best went,” John said about his time in the military. John got Patch when his neighbor’s dog gave birth to several puppies.
“He was the smallest, and I wanted one that could ride on my bike. The only hair I had was on my chin, which was called a patch. … And he had a little white patch, so we were the patch brothers,” John said.
The pair would ride in John’s Harley motorcycle, and little Patch would even wear his own pair of mini goggles. After John retired in New Mexico, they would often take walks at night. The shelter said that Patch has found a new owner and would be moving in with his new family soon.
While it was a bittersweet reunion – knowing that it might be the last one – it’s good to know that John was able to properly say his goodbyes to his beloved pet while he was in hospice care.
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