Saying farewell to ailing pets is never easy. You're relieved when their suffering is over, but the companionship, affection, and lots of smiles they provided over the years are suddenly no more. The loss is palpable and poignant.
For Massachusetts State Trooper Christopher Coscia, saying goodbye to his K-9 partner of nine years, Dante, involved all of those emotions and sentiments — and due to the life-and-death nature of their work throughout 2,300 patrol rides, his loss involved so much more.
Knowing the end was near, Cosia penned a heartfelt Facebook essay, "One Last Ride," on the way to the vet's office where Dante — suffering from pulmonary hypertension and seizures — would be relieved of his pain.
And the trooper's words appear to have struck a chord with others, as his very personal post has received nearly 7,700 likes and more than 2,600 comments since it hit the Internet on Tuesday.
Here's some of what Coscia shared regarding his faithful companion:
Dante was best described as a one-person dog, and as tough as he was for other people to get close to, our relationship never waivered. Every morning when I opened the door to his kennel he would jump up on me, wrap his paws around my waist, get his morning greeting and pat from me, storm up the stairs, and push the door open ready to go to work.
And work he did. Dante was responsible for helping many in need and aiding investigations, often in huge ways:
Once he was able to track and locate a guy who had just murdered his girlfriend, and another time he located a cash seizure that was several times greater than the previous largest seizure in Commonwealth history. During his career he helped to rid the streets of drugs. He was able to locate and assist in the seizure of more than 1,000 grams of Heroin, more than 8,600 grams of cocaine (one seizure alone of more than 7 lbs. that had been canned mechanically), more than 1,000 lbs. of marijuana, and more than $14,000,000 in cash.
Intellect? With gusto:
...one day when I was out with him I made the mistake of teaching him to open the cruiser door -- a task which took five minutes once I showed him how. From that, Dante figured out that doors open with handles, and all you have to do is grab them with your mouth and pull or turn. He took this new knowledge and taught himself to slide open the door that separated us in the cruiser, his way to always be close to me. While on patrol he would occasionally stick his head through for his occasional ear rub.
When Coscia observed Dante's physical deterioration, the reality of what needed to happen next affected others as well:
He had one of these seizures in the yard the other day, and after I sat on the ground in the snow with him patting him calmly waiting for it to be over, I came in the house. Upon walking in, to my dismay, I realized my wife and two children had been intently watching us to make sure all was okay. But it wasn’t and when I walked in the door, my wife and daughter were crying, knowing what was to be coming, possibly sooner than we were ready. My son was sitting very somberly, thinking if we don’t dwell on it things it will get better. My son and daughter were 3 and 1...respectively, when I got Dante. They knew him practically their entire lives.
Taking Dante on his last ride was hard for Coscia, who writes that he delayed the inevitable, "driving around with him as we did so many times, struggling with the decision to put him down. He sat upright, alert as ever, checking the perimeter always on guard. How does the dog who can barely breathe remain upright and vigilant for so long?"
I write this story with tears in my eyes and flowing freely down my face. Dante is still somehow sitting upright watching me as I write about him, every once in a while sticking his head through the cage, letting me know things will be alright.
(H/T: Daily Mail)