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Photo by Eden Constantino on Unsplash.

This photoset went so viral it broke the server. Click here and prepare to be moved. 

It is a beautiful story of a beloved dog’s last day on earth. Dukey was dying of cancer. He’d lost a leg but the tumor kept growing. Since he wasn’t comfortable, Dukey’s family arranged for the vet to come and give him some relief.

They wanted his last day to be something really special. So Dukey got to eat all the hamburgers he wanted. He went to the splash park with his groomer who was also his best buddy. He spent time with the family, telling jokes and reflecting on how much love he’d had. (Yes, the photographer’s comments are a little anthropomorphic, but who cares?)

Dukey finally goes to sleep on a blanket at his favorite park, surrounded by love.

Thousands of people sent comments, and a few echoed my own sentiments. Why can’t humans get to go this way, too?

If Dukey were a human in a hospital, hospice, or rest home, he’d be with strangers. Families are scattered. Doctors will do everything they can to keep you alive. We hear horror stories of sticking needles into people when they’re close to dying. Some cruel doctors even encourage their 90+ patients to get colonoscopies.

Perhaps the cruelest indignity is the way many medical people will insist on feeding dying people the same horrible food they’ve been getting all along. I’ve heard first-hand stories of caregivers trying to give their loved ones ice cream, only to be told, “But it’ll spoil their appetite!” Or, “It’s not good for them.”

That’s why I think everyone over 70 should be offered a cyanide pill, no strings attached. You don’t have to take it. You can ask for all the medical care you want, even if it runs up a big bill and delivers nothing but pain, suffering, and a big stroke to the doctor’s ego.

But I bet things would be better if we had that choice. We could turn away from nursing homes that resemble prisons, saying, “I’d rather die.” If enough people did that, there would be more incentive to treat people humanely.

“No need to take your cyanide pill! Come to Magnificent Manor.”

I suspect a lot of sick people are ready to say good-by. It’s selfish for their families to deny them the chance to slip away like Dukey the dog. I think they’d rather die on their own terms, eating their favorite foods, doing the things they want … maybe listening to a favorite piece of music.

I’m not in favor of capital punishment. But we recognize the need to give condemned men and women a decent death. A lot of places offer a last meal and a spiritual guide, something people in nursing homes and hospitals can’t get.

I am haunted by the images of Dukey. They are sad in a good way. They show what I’d want for me.