Roscoe’s Story

8:03 pm Family

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Where do I even start? I think I might start at the very beginning of the story. I am pretty sure I wasn’t blogging 9 years ago, which means, the story of how Roscoe became a LaGreca isn’t properly documented.

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Joe & I were married in October 2003 and got the keys to our first (and current) house a month later. We had been talking about wanting a dog many years prior to getting married, but since we lived in a very small apartment in a really BIG city (SF), we knew we would have to wait until we settled down in a dog-friendly place.

After months and months of Pound visits, shelter stops and online searches
Joe & I were feeling discouraged. We could not find the right dog. We wanted a puppy and we wanted a mutt (something with terrier mixed in, was preferable).

In February 2004, Joe sent me a petfinder.com link — to a little black puppy named ‘Paco’ (rhymes with taco). The minute I clicked the link and saw the picture — I knew. This was THE ONE! He was an 11 week old puppy, suspected to be a dachshund/terrier mix…and his picture was absolutely adorable.

We called the shelter phone number and we were told that ‘Paco’ had already been adopted. We were too late :( We were both bummed, but there wasn’t anything we could have done…and, we went back to the daily searches.

~3 days later Joe called me at work and said Paco’s profile was back up on petfinder.com! So, Joe called and they told us that ‘Paco’ had been adopted but was returned because the people said they were allergic to him. The shelter was going to show him at the Petsmart in Santee on Saturday morning and told us to go there if we wanted to see the puppy. They also sent over a two page questionaire (mandatory for adoption) – we couldn’t believe ALL the questions..and I remember thinking that we had BETTER not lose this puppy due to a “wrong answer” on the application, I was nervous about that!

We arrived early on Saturday just to make sure we would be the FIRST to see Paco. The shelter arrived almost an HOUR late and by the time they pulled up in the parking lot, I was ticked (and nervous). Joe ran out to the van and asked the guy to see Paco.

Joe turned from the van and started walking back to me and I could tell the news wasn’t good. The guy told Joe they he didn’t have the puppy….he had already been adopted…again.

I was DEVASTATED. I burst into tears, and cried the WHOLE way home. I remember driving over the Mission Gorge hill and Joe was trying to comfort me “Don’t worry hon, there will be another puppy. I will find us a dog, we just have to be patient.” (Mom/Dani- I am sure you remember that weekend)

I hadn’t even MET this puppy and I was CRYING for him! I remember feeling heartbroken that weekend. I really, really wanted that dog and couldn’t believe that we had missed our chance — for the SECOND time!

I went back to work on Monday (very sad) and that morning my office phone rang. It was a lady from the shelter…asking me if I was still interested in Paco — I thought it was a really MEAN joke. I didn’t believe her. I told her what had happened on Saturday — and she said — “Oh, that was a mistake. He didn’t get adopted, he was sick and needed to be seen by the vet.” (It wasn’t anything serious).

I nearly JUMPED for joy. She told me that we could go see him on Tuesday night at his Foster house up in Rancho Bernardo.

I remember the day like it was last week. We had our $200 cash ‘donation’ for adoption in hand. And I know we were both PRAYING that THIS was really it. We walked into the house and the foster lady went into the back room to let Paco out into the living room. A minute later, the sweetest little black puppy walked out of the bedroom and slowly made his way over to Joe. Joe picked him up and he immediately made himself comfortable on Joe’s lap. I was in love.

The lady left the room so we could talk and I remember being nervous that Joe wouldn’t be sure about the puppy. And I remember thinking ‘Please God, let Joe say YES. This is our 3rd and final chance…PLEASE!’

I looked at Joe nervously and said “So….can we have him?”

I don’t think Joe let me finish the question and he said “Yes! Of course!”

I felt like I had won the lottery. This puppy was THE ONE. And we had “lost” him twice! I couldn’t believe we were getting another chance. It was a sign. We have ALWAYS said…Roscoe was meant to be a LaGreca. He was meant to be in our family — no doubt about it.

The drive home from Rancho Bernardo was amazing. Little Paco fell asleep on my lap — I couldn’t stop smiling and saying “I can’t believe we got him!!” — Joe said “See honey, I told you I would find you one” :)

The LaGreca Family

(This was taken the night we brought Roscoe home. Our little family)

We had to find a proper name for our new pup. The next night, we sat in the office (the room that the boys have now) and pulled up a website that had dog names alphabetically. We started with “A” names and worked our way down the list, saying names out loud. We got down to the “R” names and I read “Roscoe” and then quickly moved to the next name…..but then stopped and looked at Joe…and the puppy…and said “Roscoe” again. We both said “that’s it”. And since his name was Paco, we decided to keep the “P” as his middle initial, just so we would always remember the story of our little Roscoe P.

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Many of you have heard that story before. I love to tell it…especially when people would meet Roscoe, mention how good he was, and then ask where/how we got him. If the story of Roscoe’s adoption sounds dramatic – that’s because it was. I really DID cry for that puppy before I had ever met him. And I didn’t want to go to work the morning after we brought him home — I just wanted to be with him. I felt like I was living in a Fairy Tale (and I am not really a ‘fairy tale believing – kind of girl.’ Joe & I both grew up with dogs — we were dog-lovers already — but Roscoe was OUR 1st dog. Not our parents’ dog, or anyone else in the family’s dog — he was OURS. He was ‘our baby’ (as you have heard us say before…many, many times).

Roscoe was always a VERY healthy dog. We rarely had to take him to the vet. Roscoe never bit ANYONE…except Nicholas (it was well-deserved, Roscoe put up with A LOT from that boy)…and he didn’t really even ‘bite’ him…he got cornered and Nicholas was threatening him, so he lashed out and scratched NCL’s nose. We have had SO many people in our house, lots of parties, MANY children…and Roscoe was never a threat. I can’t even count how many times people have said (after being at our house) “Wow. Your dog is really well-behaved and so sweet. He is a really good dog.”

Roscoe was SO loyal. I am convinced that he had 2 real ‘loves‘ in life: (1) Joe and (2) Me. Sure, he liked to eat and play and go to the park and nap and bark….but mostly, he wanted to do all of those things… with us. He didn’t like to eat alone, in fact, he didn’t like to eat with anyone but Joe & I.

For years, Joe and I have had a little argument about ‘who’s dog Roscoe was’ – of course, Joe would say “He is MY baby” and I would kindly disagree saying “No, he’s MY baby.”

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(Joe & Roscoe – December 2004. Roscoe was 1 year old)

We loved Roscoe. I am sure I don’t have to tell anyone that — you only had to visit us for 2 minutes or ask about our dog and ANYONE could tell that we really loved him. Over the years, we came up with many nicknames for Roscoe:

Roscoe P
Roscoe Peebody
Mr. Peebody
Roscito
Roscito-pito
Pito-San
Blacky
Black Beast
Baby boy
Little Paco

Over the past 3-4 years, Roscoe’s coat had been lightening in color. Many visitors have commented about how Roscoe was getting gray. Joe would always defend that Roscoe ‘had a LOT of life left in him’ and he was fine (ie. Don’t talk bad about MY dog!) He and I both believed that. We were both fully convinced that we would have Roscoe for at least 15-16 years..the odds were in our favor…we had a small dog, and he was a mixed-breed (a mutt)…that combination was supposed to yield the LONGEST dog life possible.

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(October 4, 2008 – Our 5th Wedding Anniversary. The LaGreca Family)

Back in early December, Joe noticed that Roscoe seemed to be losing weight. We asked Joe’s parents and they said they had noticed it, too. We were thinking he might have had a bad tooth – since he would eat a hard boiled egg from Joe, but he wouldn’t touch his (hard) dog food. We had been going to the same vet for almost 9 years — but Joe wanted to find a new one. He went in to the new vet on Tuesday, Dec 11th – thinking they would need to pull a bad tooth. After a full physical (body and mouth), the vet said everything looked pretty good. Roscoe appeared to be really healthy. So, they took some blood and sent Joe home.

We both felt relieved at the news that he seemed healthy — not even a bad tooth. But…he wasn’t eating, and that wasn’t normal.

The next day, the vet called Joe and said they got the results of blood test back….and there was something wrong. Roscoe’s white blood cell count was ridiculously high…which basically meant one thing…cancer :(

The vet recommended that we head over to the Vet Specialty Hospital and see an oncologist. I met Joe & Roscoe at the hospital — after completely breaking down into a sobbing mess at work.

After a few consultations with two of the vets…and a WHOLE lot of tears…we had a little more information. Roscoe was diagnosed with leukemia (a normal white blood cell count was 4,800 and Roscoe’s count was 240,000). They were nearly 100% certain that he had leukemia. They told us that it could be one of two kinds. We decided to have one more blood test to find out how bad it was and they sent us home with some drugs that would boost Roscoe’s appetite.

The vet called the next day and said the first results were back and it was confirmed that Roscoe had the BAD kind of leukemia. Even if we tried Chemo – it might only give him 4-6 weeks extra. Two days after that, the last of the blood tests came back and the doctor basically said “His leukemia is even worst than the ‘bad one’ we had told you about — chemo wouldn’t do anything for him.” The vet said Roscoe probably had a week or so to live.

We found out that Roscoe was terminally ill on December 12th. Two weeks before Christmas. I honestly didn’t think he was going to make it to see Christmas morning. The drugs seemed to be doing a GREAT job though — Roscoe was eating (gaining weight back very fast), he played with us, went on walks, was in good spirits (for all of that..we are SO thankful). But meanwhile, Joe & I knew….and we were emotionally tortured by the thoughts/questions — ‘would today be his last day?’

Thankfully, I hadn’t sent out our Christmas cards when we found out about Roscoe. Joe got me a paw print stamp — and I wrote Roscoe’s name next to the paw, on each of the envelopes.

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Roscoe turned 9 years old on December 16th and after the diagnosis a few days earlier, we were happy to have him with us for his birthday.

Roscoe made it to Christmas — and I am sure Joe would agree — that having him with us was the best Christmas gift this year. Roscoe was eating like a King (no more dog food — only home cooked meals), we did everything we could to make him happy and comfortable. And along the way, there were many tears. I broke down crying in the shower nearly every single night. I cried myself to sleep a lot. I cried on my way home from work. I felt SO heartbroken. And I knew it wasn’t going to get better….and I knew that soon… We would have to make the decision to take Roscoe in.

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(The LaGreca Family – Christmas Day 2012. I will treasure this picture forever).

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(January 1, 2013 – I told my boys to the park and Roscoe just wanted to sit on my lap)

On Wednesday, January 2nd – I went back to work (after being home for 11 straight days). Joe called the vet and after telling him they things weren’t going well anymore, they scheduled an appointment for Friday (Jan 4th) at 4pm (the vet kindly offered to come to out house). On Thursday, Roscoe stopped eating and stayed on our bed the whole day. That day, Joe found the energy and the heart, to dig Roscoe’s grave. I do NOT know HOW he did it. He is amazing and I can’t even find the words to thank him. I got home from work late that night — it was already dark. I didn’t see the hole. As I was putting my purse down and picking Roscoe up to hug him, Joe said “I dug a hole today…and I was really, really hard to do.”

By 9:30pm that night, I was laying on the floor with Roscoe, crying and petting him. He was miserable :( At 2am, Joe turned our bedroom light on and said “we have to take him in, right now.” Roscoe was whimpering and clearly uncomfortable. There wasn’t anything more we could do for him. Joe called his Dad just after 2:15am and asked if they could come down to sit with the boys at the house. They came right down.

Joe couldn’t drive fast enough. Roscoe cried the whole way to the hospital. It was SO painful for all of us. We felt like we were too late. He had gotten bad SO fast – and even though we KNEW it was coming, we just weren’t prepared for it to be so quick at the end.

I will spare all the painful details of the 15 minutes we spent at the hospital (the vet was good…and everything happened very fast). Neither of us had ever put a dog down. They do it VERY fast…and it was peaceful for Roscoe.

We got home just after 3am – and then the four of us buried our sweet black dog.

It was the most painfully sad thing I have ever done/been through in my adult life. It was awful…and it still stings. I feel like part of my heart was buried with Roscoe that night. I feel like I can’t say or do anything to comfort Joe. I know we both need time. There is NOTHING anyone can say that makes it better. We just need time.

We told the boys (on Friday AM) that Roscoe had died and gone to Heaven (they knew he hadn’t been feeling good, but we didn’t tell them how bad it was). Nicholas knows a bit about death (at his young age) and he finds great comfort in Heaven. We figured that would be the best explanation for our young boys.

Tonight at dinner, Nicholas prayed for Roscoe, (as the boys do every single night – Roscoe is always in the list of family members that get prayed for) saying “thank you God for Roscoe. God, please let Roscoe feel good in Heaven, and help him to get along with all the other dogs.” It was the sweetest little prayer – just perfect coming from our 5 year old. Joe and I both had tears in our eyes.

Roscoe came into our life – and I was so happy that I cried tears of joy. Roscoe left our life (way too soon) – and it was SO painful that I have sobbed many tears of sadness.

Joe & I will miss Roscoe dearly. He was an amazing friend. Loving, loyal and so sweet. Our house and our family isn’t the same without him. I can only hope that he felt loved by us…I probably told him a couple hundred times over the last few weeks, that I loved him so much. He was THE BEST dog ever.

Rest in Peace, our little black beast.

4 Responses
  1. Cousin Mary :

    Date: January 7, 2013 @ 10:16 pm

    I don’t know how you always find the right words, Elizabeth … tears for Roscoe … even from me … he was truly a sweet sweet dog <3

  2. JP :

    Date: January 7, 2013 @ 10:39 pm

    Wow – thank you so much for sharing his story (can’t believe I’d never heard it). You really do have a gift – tears are running down my face. And no doubt about it – he KNEW he was loved. He had a great life with you guys. RIP.

  3. Rebecca :

    Date: January 7, 2013 @ 11:04 pm

    What a great way to document his life and your love for him. We love you guys!

  4. Janet :

    Date: March 5, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

    I ran across your website by accident. I also had a Roscoe that I called Roscoe P sometimes after Roscoe P Coltrane on the Dukes of Hazzard. He was a little black terrier mutt with some tan spots over his eyes and on his chest, with a little white sprinkled in. He died at 13 with a tumor on his spleen. Much of the same events happened with us that it did with you. I took him in on a Friday and the vet pumped him with fluid, thinking he could last another week or two when we found out what was wrong. I had to take him the very next day because he was so miserable. I feel your pain. Your Roscoe was a beautiful dog!

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