Duke Roberts may not have led a charmed life, but his owner did her best to ensure that his last day of life was blessed.
After her beloved chocolate Labrador survived a bout of osteosarcoma last year and endured an amputation to treat it, Jordan Green Roberts, 37, hoped the worst was over.
In June, however, a visit to the veterinarian indicated more heartbreak to come. According to his doctor, Duke had contracted an aggressive form of cancer and his tumor was unlikely to respond to further treatment.
“It was really rapidly growing,” Roberts said. “Day by day, it was getting larger and it was at risk of rupturing.”
The doctor told Roberts that the size of the tumor ruled out surgery and chemo would do little to halt its progression. Hoping to spare Duke from further pain, Roberts resolved to put him down.
But not before she could give Duke one last gift.
Joined by her husband, Duke’s groomer and friends, Roberts celebrated Duke’s last day on July 7. The group fed Duke hamburgers and milkshakes, spirited him into a children’s water park, and showered him with love and affection before a vet arrived to put a swift and painless end to his misery.
“Nobody wants to see their dog suffer,” Roberts told ABC News. “We tried to find the time [to celebrate his life] just before it was going to be too late for him.”
Photographer and friend Robyn Arouty offered to document the idyllic afternoon for the couple. Told from Duke’s perspective, the resultant blog post, which begins with the chilling words, “I died today,” went viral.
“The Internet is not really known for being warm and fuzzy,” Roberts said. “But I would say about 98% of [reactions] have just been amazing. People are reflecting on their pets. People have said that they’re inspired to celebrate their dogs when their time comes. I only wish that everyone could have that kind of love.”
For Roberts, the outpouring of support is representative of Duke himself: “Duke was pure love. This is so special to us because it’s him. It’s Duke that’s doing it.”
But while Roberts is grateful for the so-called “Internet hug,” she and her family are still grieving for their pet. The mother of two reported that her two-year-old daughter is especially stricken.
“She and Duke had a really special bond,” Roberts said. “She knows that he’s not coming back, but I think she keeps asking [where he is] to see if the answer will change. She gets it, but she just misses him. We all miss him.”