Last Goodbye: Vietnam Vet In Hospice Care Reunites With Beloved Dog, Patch

OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

Whatever it takes. That motto of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, seems to sum up John Vincent, even at the close of his life.

The Montana native enlisted with the Marines (although possibly a different unit) when he was a young man and served three years, including time in Vietnam. He got home safe – but home ended up being many different places: Wyoming, Alaska and finally New Mexico.

Vincent has survived 69 years of living, working blue-collar jobs and riding a Harley. But recently he was hospitalized in Albuquerque and then transferred to hospice care at the Raymond G. Murphy Veterans Affairs Medical Center. No family lives in the area, so he had to surrender his Yorkshire terrier, Patch, to the Westside Animal Shelter.

Doctors say Vincent’s time is short. And when he learned that, the one thing this tough guy wanted was to see his beloved dog one last time.

Staff at the Hospice Center and at Albuquerque Animal Welfare did whatever it took to make Vincent’s final wish happen a few days ago.

Amy Neal, a palliative care social worker, said it was “an honor” to fulfill Vincent’s last request.

“It’s about ‘what can we do to enhance his life?’ Because it’s about living here when they come here … and this is living for him.”

Vincent and Patch spent one last day together. The poignant story, along with photos taken by staff from the shelter, have since gone viral.

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Posted by Albuquerque Animal Welfare on Friday, October 18, 2019

Patch has already been adopted.