This Dog's Final Day Proves We Should Live Every Day Like It's Our Last

07/14/2014 02:28 pm ET | Updated Jul 17, 2014

The Roberts family knew they had to put their beloved dog, Duke, to sleep after the cancer began to take over his body. So, they decided to make his final day on Earth his most special.

Duke, a black Labrador living in Houston, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his leg a few years ago, KSL notes. Osteosarcoma is the most common bone cancer in dogs. The tumors associated with the illness are aggressive and readily metastasize. Duke had his front leg removed, but the tumor only grew bigger and ultimately started to separate his ribs, making him increasingly uncomfortable.

His owner, Jordan Roberts, scheduled his euthanizing with a Houston veterinarian for Monday, July 7, according to KSL. But before saying goodbye to Duke, the family decided to take him out to enjoy the finer things in life. Roberts asked her friend and animal lover, photographer Robyn Arouty, to capture the pup's final moments.

Duke ate hamburgers; he frolicked in a water park; he spent the day surrounded by the ones he loved most.

"It was beautiful, really. One thing just fell into the next," Arouty explained in an email to The Huffington Post. "[The day] started with the hamburgers, then the boys came over, then other friends, etc. The splash park was spontaneous. And then Duke walked under 'The Rainbow Bridge,' which is ironically also a term used for the place where pets go when they die. I felt honored."

After Duke's story was picked up by BuzzFeed, it went viral and inspired many to share their own pet-loss stories.

"Jordan told me the other day that she felt Dukey's purpose was to love and inspire and she’s thrilled that he is still doing it. Understandably, they miss the heck out of him, but feel very strongly that he's still with their family in spirit. They never expected a response like this," Arouty told HuffPost.

"We didn’t realize it at the time, of course, but Dukey’s story has created this beautiful forum for people to share stories of their beloved pets who have passed away," she said. "Photographing [and] documenting Duke that day has really empowered people to find a way to cope and ease the pain of letting a pet go by celebrating them while they are still here."

Read the story of Duke's last day below from Robyn Arouty and visit Robyn Arouty Photography for more.

  • "I Died Today" by Duke Roberts
    Robyn Arouty Photography
  • And I ate a lot of hamburgers. We had a party.
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • And I laughed.
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • And I thought about how much I'm going to miss it here.
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • We told jokes.
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • We were serious.
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • My friends from next door came to see me. They’re twins. When someone offered them one of my hamburgers, one said, “No thank you. I don’t want to take any from Dukey.”
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • Kristen came to see me. She’s a hoot. She’s my groomer. And my buddy.
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • While we were waiting for the vet to come, Kristen said we were going for a walk. Then someone said, “How about a play in the water at the splash park down the street?” So off we went!
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • “You know I’m going to miss you, right?”
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • "And you too, right?"
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • “I need you to help me watch over my family.”
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • “Did you hear me? This is all I want!”
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • We got wet today.
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • We smiled today.
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • We felt grateful today.
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • We broke the rules today.
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • I listened to the kids play off in the distance. And thought about my two babies at home. I loved protecting them.
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • I relaxed today.
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • I felt no pain. Even though the tumor grew so big.
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • I felt the love today.
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • I said goodbye to my beautiful friend Kira. She “saw” me standing over everybody before the doctor said it was time. I was excited & jumping & happy.
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • Well, I didn’t say goodbye. I said ’til we meet again.
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • God, I was lucky. Our time was short. But you both gave me a second chance & we lived it up together. You love when I look at you. I’ll never stop.
  • Robyn Arouty Photography
  • Always, Dukey.

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