It had been weeks since Peter Robson had seen his dog.
The terminally ill 70-year-old man had been bedridden in a hospital in Scotland, separated from his beloved border collie, Shep, as he came to the end of a years-long battle with lung disease.
In his final hours, Robson did not want any comforts from home. Although it seemed impractical, his family said, he wanted only a moment to say goodbye to the friend who had been by his side through it all.
So Robson’s nurses told his relatives to go get the dog.
In an emotional Facebook video, Robson’s family members were seen bringing Shep into his hospital room Thursday at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, Scotland. As his relatives were heard sniffling and crying in the background, Robson leaned over the side of the hospital bed to pet his dog, then pulled off his oxygen mask to let the animal lick him.
“When the dog came, he just broke down,” one of Robson’s granddaughters, Ashley Stevens, said Friday morning in a phone interview with The Washington Post. “He took his mask off to kiss him and stuff, and Shep was licking his face.”
Stevens said seeing Shep was her grandfather’s last wish.
Only hours later, she said, he died surrounded by family.
Stevens said her grandfather was able to spend about 30 or 45 minutes with his dog.
She later posted photos and videos of the reunion on Facebook, showing Robson scratch the dog’s head before falling back onto his pillow. She wrote that she was “absolutely amazed and touched” to see her grandfather’s wish come true.
“Still in shock that the wish was granted and they went above and beyond today and made a dying man very happy,” the 22-year-old wrote about the hospital staff members. She added that her grandfather’s charge nurse was “an absolute angel and we are all eternally grateful you don’t know what this meant to our granddad.”
Hospital officials said Robson’s nurse worked with colleagues in “infection control” to arrange the special meeting for the man.
“Our thoughts are with Mr. Robson’s family as they deal with their loss at this difficult time,” the hospital system’s chief executive, Lesley McLay, said in a statement.
“The ward 3 team has done a wonderful thing for this family,” she added. “It is often the little things that mean the most to patients and their families and I’m so pleased that the staff were able to grant this wish.”
Robson’s family members gave him Shep as a puppy eight years ago to keep him company after his wife died.
Stevens, his granddaughter, said Robson and Shep soon became “best friends” and that it was rare to see the two apart. She said her grandfather would take the dog on walks three or four times a day.
In January 2015, Robson was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive form of lung disease, and he later developed emphysema, Stevens said. She said her grandfather was given three to five years to live.
In December, Stevens said, her grandfather took a turn for the worse, but it wasn’t until several weeks ago that Robson and his dog were separated — when Robson was admitted into the hospital.
“He thought he would never see his dog again,” she said.
Stevens said relatives told Robson on Thursday that they were going to pick up his dog, and he started crying.
She said the moment her grandfather saw Shep was “amazing.”
“He was all my granddad had,” she said of her grandfather’s dog. “So it was just right that we had him there.”
Stevens says that her grandfather’s only son, who is also named Peter, will now care for Shep.