When 87-year-old Patrick Saunders told his nurses that he loved horses, they knew they had to plan something special for him. He was a patient at North Devon Hospice in the United Kingdom, and he didn’t have much time left.
Luckily, days before he passed away, he was treated to a special surprise.
“When they told me that a horse was coming to visit dad, I thought that maybe he would be able to see the animal from his balcony,” Saunders’ daughter Jayne told Sky News. “I had no idea he would be able to get so close.”
Saunders mentioned to his nurses that he loved horses and as a teen spent a lot of time around them.
Once the nurses at the hospice heard about Saunders’ love for horses they contacted a local equine rescue center. They hoped the center would be able to send over a pony, but the organization’s founder wouldn’t have it.
“I said, ‘If he is real horse man, he would want to see a real horse.’ So I brought big boy Victor up,” Ann Sims, founder of North Devon Equine Rescue Centre, told The Dodo.
Saunders got his love of horses from his father, Victor, and as a teenager his first job was working at a stable. He even taught his future wife how to ride a horse, and as the years went on, horses continued to play a part in his life.
His nurses thought a visit from a horse would make him forget his condition, even if just for a little bit.
According to Jayne, her father hadn’t been feeling himself for several days, but as soon as Sims and a beautiful brown stallion—coincidentally also named Victor—walked up to his bedside, he completely changed.
Saunders’ nurses wheeled his bed outside, where he was able to interact with Victor. He fed the horse apples, carrots, and mints, all while smiling ear to ear.
When Saunders saw Victor, his mood changed instantly.
Sadly, three days after Victor visited the hospice, Saunders passed away. Although Saunders is gone, his family feels as though he was able to enjoy his final days. Jayne remarked to Sky News that she was grateful for the hospice staff making her father’s experience a little brighter.
His family weren’t the only ones happy to see Saunders in such a good mood before he passed away.
“His laugh and smile will live with me forever,” Sims said. “Patrick showed no sadness and made each of us smile with pride.”