Our Gentle Giants

The story of two Floridians and their foster Great Danes

July 23rd, 2015

Where Did He Go?

By Tara
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Where did he go?

That’s the question that has been burning inside my heart since last night.

Rocco died yesterday. I’ve never experienced the death of a person or pet I was very close to. I’m not religious (not even a little). I’ve always had “issues” with death, meaning I have always had a burning curiosity about death and a burning fear of my loved ones dying.

I have so many feelings about yesterday, but the one that literally kept me up last night was, “where did he go?”

I keep replaying it in my head. They walked in into the room. He was panting, looking around, spotted me, focused on me, used all 4 legs to come up to me. He circled around, tried to find a comfortable position, sat down, laid on me. Still panting. I took his collar off, and his body was warm. It twitched a little because I touched him and it surprised him a little. I stroked his face and he was still panting. His eyelashes moved a little. They injected him with the anesthetic and left. He was still. I watched his ribs, trying to notice if they were moving up and down, but I couldn’t really tell. I just sat there petting him as if nothing was wrong. His eyelids didn’t close, just like the assistant said they wouldn’t. I tried closing them, but they wouldn’t stay pushed together.

After a few minutes, I decided to get up. I lifted his shoulder off my leg. He was pretty heavy and he wasn’t helping me. I forgot about needing to support his head, so for a split second, his head fell over to the side. I quickly grabbed it and helped it down.

When my hand and his head hit the ground, there was no movement. It felt like it was a dead weight. I scooted back and he didn’t even move a muscle to see where I was going.

I don’t understand. I can’t even process it still. A few minutes before, he was walking towards me. Then something happened. Then his soul, his personality, everything that made him him was gone. Where. did. he. go?

I’m sitting here, writing this, and he’s not here. He has to be somewhere, right? When Roxie isn’t here, she’s at the vet. Christian’s not home, he’s at work. Rocco must still be at the hospital, because that’s where I left him. But he’s not there. He’s not even in another building or city. He is nowhere.


This photo was not taken at the hospital yesterday. I took a photo of him with his head on my lap before they came in to give him the anesthetic but I’m keeping that private.

Never once did I doubt that this was the right decision. I still believe it was the right decision. I don’t have an ounce of regret. But another thing that is burning in my heart is the finality of it all.

Everything is somewhat reversible/changeable. If you decide to drop out of college, you can always go back. If you feel like you were born in the wrong body, you can always make lifestyle changes and physical changes. If you are estranged from your family or don’t know where they are, there are ways for you to find them.

But death. That’s it. There’s no coming back. As I write this, he’s not shoving his head in my armpit and forcibly pushing my arm up, trying to get me to pet him. And he’ll never do that again. I’ll never feel it again. No one will ever feel it again. What?

He used to be a puppy running on this same Earth as you and me. For 8 years, we all shared the same world. And suddenly, just in a few minutes, he’s gone? And he’s never coming back?

His story has been written and cannot be edited.

I have huge issues with regret. It’s been 2 and a half years since Christian and I have been married and I still have two regrets from that day that sometimes bring me anxiety.

Am I doing enough with my life? What about Roxie’s life? I sure as hell am not doing enough for her. I need to walk with her more. I need to take her place so she can chase more squirrels and lizards. I need to train her to be the best that she can be.

I spoke with several people yesterday and there were a few messages that really comforted me:

It’s a beautiful thing that his last memory was lying on your lap and feeling your hand on his face.

He used to be happy and healthy. He was not anymore. You gave him his life back.

He didn’t die painfully or alone. He died surrounded by love.

This post was very much my stream of consciousness. I’m not sure what else I want to say, so I’ll leave you here.

This is the only photo I have of the two of us. It was taken the day he came home.

This is the only photo I have of the two of us. It was taken the day he came home.

  • Jayme July 23, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    Don’t cry because he’s gone, smile because he came into your life… nobody can take away the memories! {{{hugs}}}

    • Tara July 23, 2015 at 3:52 pm

      Thank you, Jayme <3 <3 <3

  • Joe July 23, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    I am a grown man crying over the loss of your Rocco!!
    I am so so sorry!

    • Tara July 23, 2015 at 9:21 pm

      Aww, don’t cry! <3

  • Carole July 23, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    tears are streaming down my face, my heart is broken for you..but Jayme said smile cause he came into your life

    • Tara July 23, 2015 at 9:21 pm

      Yes, I’m trying to remember that :)

  • Tanya July 23, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    I really appreciate this article. I have the exact feeling about death. Wednesday will be one year since my Kobe died. I still expect him to be laying on the couch. It’s still hard for me to deal with his loss

    • Tara July 23, 2015 at 9:22 pm

      That can’t be easy at all :( Today, I turned on my Pandora and it was set to my Enya station. When we were working on his anxiety, I would play Enya to call him down.

  • Arlene July 23, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    we lost our Harl girl Bridgette on Monday, she was 10 yrs, 9 months and 9 days old, and it was 20 days short of her 5 year Gotcha Anniversary. So I do know exactly how you are feeling….I guess the difference Is that I believe in the Rainbow Bridge and heaven, and I believe that we will be reunited one day in the afterlife….she is not gone, her spirit walks with me every day!

    • Tara July 23, 2015 at 9:23 pm

      Oh sweetheart <3 Sorry to hear that. I’m glad you find comfort in that! I just framed Rocco’s pawprint and I feel like he’s hanging out with me by the computer :)

  • Bonnie July 23, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    Very sorry for you loss. I have had that loss you describe. Walking into the vet’s with a seemingly healthy dog, who in fact is not. Being in that room holding and cuddling, and then the stillness. I was heartbroken, I still miss my guy. I made a memory book, pictures from puppyhood on up. I loved that Dusty Dog, Cocker Spaniel. He was a Canine Good Citizen, he talked to me, he nudged me for treats, etc. But I still love him, I remember him, I have him in my heart. I have a dane pup now, and I hope to have her for a long time. Good Luck and my thoughts are with you.

    • Tara July 26, 2015 at 10:52 am

      <3 Thank you for sharing your story with me.

  • Pamela July 24, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    How difficult. I’m so sorry for your loss. You’re right. Rocco wasn’t a foster dog. He was a member of your family.

    I’m an agnostic. So I also don’t believe in the rainbow bridge or my pets waiting to see me after death. I can see how those beliefs would be comforting. But they don’t make sense to me.

    But Rocco isn’t really gone. He’s in your heart. Forever. And now, thanks to your beautiful posts about him, he’s in ours as well. And that’s not such a bad place to end up.

    • Tara July 26, 2015 at 10:53 am

      Pamela, that is very comforting :) I’m glad more people got to meet him. Thank you.

  • Jill Wilder July 28, 2015 at 11:54 am

    I still have such strong, vivid memories of each of the dogs I have been blessed to have in my life over the years. When they are gone, it leaves a void that feels as though it will never totally heal. I still miss each one but I have also realized that their loss eventually paves the way for some other sweet soul to step into my life, not to take their place, but to help with the healing. He will always be a part of your heart. Rocco knew he was loved. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Tiffany Poe April 21, 2016 at 9:27 am

    we had our Easy (that was his name) for 16 years since he was a puppy and he was put to rest in januray it hasnt been easy with out him

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