Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dear Rocco


Yesterday was the worst day of my life. I've been feeling sick ever since you've been gone. Words can't describe how much I loved you and how much it broke my heart to do that to you. I feel like I tricked you, like I betrayed you. You gave me unconditional trust and I deceived you. Seeing the look of confusion in your eyes when the anesthesia shot incapacitated your body was horrible. I know it must have been scary to lose your muscle function and not be able to stand. I felt for you when you couldn't hold your tongue in your mouth. When I thought your tongue could move no more you twice tried to lick your nose. I think you must have been trying so hard and willed yourself to do that. I tried to keep eye contact with you while you blinked and struggled with your loss of feeling. I held your arms in my hands and rubbed them. I spoke softly into your ears. I hope I was with you when you left consciousness. Part of me wanted to go with you, for you not to have to bear this journey alone. When the euthanasia shot came it was so quick and painless. I was so glad there was no struggle.
You looked up to me like I was your hero but you were mine. I thought you were so strong that the cancer would not take you. I thought your mind could conquer your body. When I saw Friday that the cancer was going to win I was heartbroken. I didn't know what to do. I don't know if we made the right decision. I don't know if I should have taken you in the next day or if you should be lying in your bed next to me now. I don't know if I took time away from you that you would have enjoyed. I know yesterday you enjoyed your food like you always have, like it was the greatest thing ever. You greeted Dr. Chad with so much excitement I feel terrible knowing that I brought him there to kill you. Rocco I had to decide whether to end your life now while you still had some enjoyment of it or wait until it was clear that you were suffering. I thought it would be wrong to wait till you were so sick that you wouldn't eat or move. If I had let you get to the point that you were living in complete misery than the gift of life would have turned into a curse. I wanted you to take the gift with you. I wanted your last moments to be good ones and not full of pain and agony. Alicia and I loved you so much and it sounds so sick but mistake or not we did it for you.
I want you to know there were others besides us who loved you. I saw people crying for you. People wrote me and called me about you. You touched many hearts. Havana is hurting for you now. After the euthanasia shot we let her out with Barney. Barney was too scared of Dr. Chad to acknowledge your condition. Havana came up and saw something was wrong, she tried to smell for your breath. Then she laid down on the blanket next to you. She just laid with her head down for maybe a minute or so and then got up. This meant a lot to Alicia and I and I hope you knew how much she loved you. Barney may have distracted her lately but you and her had such a strong bond and were meant to be together. She isn't the same right now just like us.
I don't know where to go from here. It's hard. After you were taken away I couldn't look at the empty dog bed where you usually slept. Alicia and I took Havana up to Los Altos, to Tony's neighborhood and we walked the old route. It was a beautiful day and there wasn't a dog or cat in sight. We thought you would have loved being there. Alicia and I shared a smoothie and when the cup got to the bottom we took the top off a let Havana lick what she could. I told Alicia if you were here your long tongue would get to the bottom and it would be all gone. We're going to miss those little things you did. There are so many daily rituals that are now gone. I tried to tug with Barney but he wasn't interested. Your energy in the morning was the spark plug for the whole house. I loved that you loved being dragged around on the carpet, holding onto that rope. Alicia thought it was ridiculous and I thought it was great. I loved that goofy side of you that just lived and relished in the simplest moments.
We had a terrible night last night with much crying and Alicia called in sick today. We went down to the old HSSV. The adoption kennels you stayed in were gone, just a parking lot. The gravel play yard is gone, there is a cinder block wall there. I went to the spot where you made that lady who lost her dog so happy. I could picture you there, the moments came back to me. We walked up Martin to those grass islands with the maple trees were. Memories came back. I remember sitting there with you and Alicia and she wouldn't let you kiss her! She didn't like dog kisses then. It's funny how now she was always asking you and Havana for kisses. She told me today that you showed her how to like dog kisses. How many times did I hear her tell you "gimmie kiss" and you looked up in her eyes and off you went!
We are having your body cremated. They are going to give us your ashes and a molded tile of your paw print. I'm going to bury the ashes by the fig tree where you, Havana and Barney liked to lay in the sun. I'm going to make a bracelet out of your old dog tag.
Well, I've apologized, and reminisced. I wish you could read and understand this letter. Mostly I just want you to know that you were everything to me. I could not love you anymore than I did or do. It leaves me sad because I believe when you are gone that's it. It aches in my heart to think I'll never be with you again. I would love to be proven wrong some day. I'd love to be with you again and forever. I do know that while I'm living you will forever be in my heart. You were a beautiful soul.
I know you're not going to write me back but I'll keep writing you my sweet boy.

With love

PS. Found the most beautiful picture of you on a CD that Ali Talley gave me almost 3 years ago. I put the CD in my folder and forgot about it. Alicia and I had never seen it until today. I'll attach it with this letter.


  1. Kevin,
    What a great letter. I so admire you for making the really tough decision before he lost all will for life. I've been down that road and did wait too long those regrets still haunt me at times. I think the initial loss is so much harder because we always question ourselves, but you really did give Rocco the gift of a good life, not a life ending in suffering and pain. I can see his happy face so clearly, trying so hard to keep from jumping up to smother you with kisses. Rocco touched so many lives and taught many the joy of doggie kisses. Thank you for sharing his life with us and also for sharing his passing in such a kind heartfelt way.

  2. It is a hard thing to do, thanks for sharing so much, this has brought back some memories for me. I had to euthanize my dog at the vet office with no one with me & she struggled in the end and the look in her eyes while she was looking at me, I felt like I was choosing for her to die. It was hard. I can remember barely able to see the stop lights through my tears while driving with her body back home. Very sad, but know it had to be done.

    Rocco didn't want to hurt anymore...

  3. Thanks Mary,

    You know Marthina mentioned a dog she had (pre-pit bulls) and she thought she waited too long and regretted it as well. I think I'll always have the opposite regret, that maybe he could have had another happy day or two. But it's hard to say. Dogs are so stoic and I knew he was uncomfortable but was so positive that he still enjoyed things anyway. Like you said though better than waiting until life was misery for him and then doing it. I'd hate to have seen his spirit broken like that.

    Renee, sorry to bring back those memories. Not sure if I should publish these blogs because if someone reads it they will probably get sad. But maybe it will help someone in someway I don't know. I am glad I did it at home though. That is for sure how (unfortunately) I'll end up doing it for Havana when her time comes as well. (Hopefully not for a while!!)

  4. Along with the memory of that sad day also came a lot of great memories that made me smile. It's been a while since I thought about her and your blog brought me back to that time and I broke out my photo album (no online photos back then) & perused through all those happy times we had together. It made me smile :)And I know now that waiting another day would have been another day of pain for her.

  5. And yes, I would do it at home, definitely but I took my girl to the vet hoping he'd tell me something different but he didn't & said it's time, she's suffering.