Saying goodbye is never easy, especially during those last precious moments in life when you yearn to tell the people — and animals — you care about just how much they’ve meant to you.
Sadly, this was the bittersweet scenario faced by Peter Robson of Elswick, Newcastle, U.K. Robson, who was suffering from fibrosis of the lungs, and was hoping for any comforts from home. BBC.com reports the 70-year-old terminally ill grandfather’s only dying wish was for the staff of Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, Scotland, to allow his dog, a border collie named Shep, to visit him last Thursday.
“He was a doting granddad to 35 grandchildren and five kids of his own,” Robson’s granddaughter Ashley Stevens tells PEOPLE. “Him and Shep became best friends. My granddad got him as a companion after my gran passed away nine years ago. We got Shep the year later, to give him company.”
Robson’s family tells the BBC that the hospital staff made “a dying man very happy” by accepting a pet visitor on the premises. Animals are only granted entry to the medical facility “under exceptional circumstances” due to infection control regulations, and his family had given up hope that this wish would be granted. Now, they say they’re “eternally grateful” for the hospital staff’s sensitivity and the heartwarming opportunity they provided for him.
Stevens took to Facebook to express her family’s gratitude to the NHS staff.
“Absolutely amazed and touched today from NHS Ninewells Hospital,” wrote Stevens in a March 29 post. “Our grandad’s last and final wish was to see his dog one more time. Still in shock that the wish was granted and they went above and beyond today and made a dying man very happy. Cheryl Whyte charge nurse of Ward 3 you are an absolute angel and we are all eternally grateful.”
Stevens went on to say, “You don’t know what this meant to our granddad. I’ll let these moments do the talking, thank you NHS. Please share this everyone needs to know what amazing nurses and staff they have in that hospital.”
The hospital responded in kind on Facebook:
“Our condolences Ashley and the rest of your family for the loss of your grandfather, we hope that this visit has brought a little bit of comfort to you at this difficult time … We are so proud of our fantastic staff in Ward 3 and infection control at Ninewells for making this happen. Thank you for taking the time to share this, I know Cheryl and the team really appreciate it.”
Stevens tells PEOPLE that her grandfather “was always out with his dog … that’s all he loved to do.” And it appears that Shep felt the same way about his master.
“He was being taken to the dog groomers and my auntie passed my granddad’s street,” Stevens wrote in a message to PEOPLE. “He barked so much because she didn’t turn into his street to take him home.”
Luckily Shep is now being taken care of by Stevens’ grandfather’s son, also named Peter, she says.
Despite all the tears from the past week, Stevens only has happy memories of her beloved granddad. “He was always laughing and joking, always had a smile on his face,” Stevens tells PEOPLE. “And right up until the end, that’s how he remained.”