It started with a heartfelt Facebook message and ended with love from all over the world.
On Nov. 8, Mark Woods of Cornwall, England, shared a heart-wrenching post on Facebook: he was putting his beloved dog Walnut to sleep the following Saturday. But before that sad moment, he told his followers that he planned to walk on a beach his dog loved just one last time, and asked people to join him. That’s when something amazing happened.
What could have been a few family and friends turned into something epic: More than 19,000 people reacted to the Facebook post, with hundreds attending the walk, and many more walking with their own beloved pets at 9:30 a.m. around the world, according to Woods.
The post read:
“Walk with Walnut Sadly I am having to have Walnut euthanised on Saturday 12th November and so we will be having a last walk together on his beloved Porth Beach at 9.30am. I would love it if dog lovers/owners and friends would join us for a celebration of Walnut on his favourite Porth Beach. He has had an incredible life and having reached the grand age of 18 is ready for his final sleep. Hope to see you on Saturday.”
After the overwhelming show of support on and off the beach that day, Walnut was put to sleep at 11:56 a.m., and it’s clear the support from so many people—including countless strangers—definitely eased the blow.
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“I am humbled by the support from all over the world that I have received,” Woods told PEOPLE in an email. “I set out to have a walk with Walnut and now I feel I am walking with you all, thank you.”
Walnut left this world with his family and his siblings—whippets Monty, Nelson and Charlie—by his side. “He went very quickly in my arms,” Woods wrote on Facebook, “I am writing this post because I owe it to everyone who has supported myself, my family and most importantly Walnut.”
This unexpected closing chapter in the dog’s beautiful life ended with a sweet poem, sent to Woods by one of the many well wishers and read to the dog before he was put to sleep on Saturday.
Today you did the bravest thing,
Today you set me free
Thank you for showing me
The ultimate dignity
I’m sorry that my leaving
Has broken your kind heart
But we knew this day would come,
The day we had to part
Don’t think I did not hear
Every last word you said
Don’t think I did not feel
Your trembling hand touch my head
Today you did the bravest thing
Today you set me free
Thank you for a wonderful life
Thank you for loving me
Woods wrote that it was a reminder of “just how lucky we are to be alive and to share in the wonderful world that our pets give us.”
This article originally appeared on People.com.