Meet Duke Roberts. Duke was a black lab, living in Houston, Texas. He had a loving family, and lived a life of pure canine joy. Years ago, Duke was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor, in his leg. Veterinarians removed his front right leg to try to stop the cancer, but the tumor continued to grow bigger.
Out of options, Duke’s owner, Jordan Roberts, made an appointment with for euthanization with the vet for Monday, July 7. Roberts invited her friend, photographer Robyn Arouty, to capture Duke’s last day on Earth.
“Experiencing death with your heart makes you stronger. You can overcome your fears. I’m living proof,” Arouty said.
Below are the bittersweet photos Arouty captured of Duke’s last day, showing a life full of unconditional love and happiness.
I died today, by Duke Roberts. And I ate a lot of hamburgers. We had a party.
And I laughed.
And I thought about how much I’m going to miss it here.
We told jokes.
We were serious.
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.”
Kristen came to see me. She’s a hoot. She’s my groomer. And my buddy.
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!
“You know I’m going to miss you, right?”
“And you too, right?”
“Did you hear me? This is all I want!”
We got wet today.
We smiled today.
We felt grateful today.
We broke the rules today.
I listened to the kids play off in the distance. And thought about my two babies at home. I loved protecting them.
I relaxed today.
I felt no pain. Even though the tumor grew so big.
I felt the love today.
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.
Well, I didn’t say goodbye. I said ’til we meet again.
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.