Unexpectedly Losing My Dog During Pregnancy & the Project it Inspired

They say nothing lasts forever, but that doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier.  Almost 2 weeks ago to the day, my family suddenly lost our dog, Rocco.  I’ve honestly been dreading writing this post yet at the same time felt a calling to share it.  Losing a dog is tough, regardless of whether or not it’s expected.  If you’re a dog person, you know what I’m talking about.  You know they are family.  During his 13.5 years with us, Rocco was no exception to this rule.  In fact, he was the kind of guy that had a seat at the dinner table.

I’m grateful yet devastated it happened so fast.

How it happened…

If you don’t want to know the details, skip this section.  Rocco was literally fine on Monday.  On Tuesday, he seemed off with very heavy breathing so my parents took him to the doctor.  He had an infected salivary gland for 2 months leading up to this point, but they had aspirated it, and he was doing well.  However, they ran a chest x-ray (clear) and wanted to keep him overnight to watch his breathing.  My parents & I decided he should go home to sleep.  He hates not being home and we didn’t want to stress him out since he can get a bit anxious.

Tuesday night didn’t go well.  He couldn’t get comfortable and seemed to be in pain walking from room to room to hide under beds (not normal).  Wednesday morning, my mom called at 7:45AM on her way into the vet.  I could hear him breathing heavily in the background.  I hung up the phone crying and told Matt I was going to go out to the doctor’s office to help my mom.  He insisted on coming with me.  By 8:00AM, my mom had called to let us know they rushed Rocco back to get an IV and some meds to help with his heavy breathing.  This is where it gets really hard… At 8:30AM my mom called, the doctor was in the room and we had to give the OK to resuscitate Rocco if he went into cardiac arrest because it wasn’t looking good.

By the time we arrived 15 minutes later, Rocco was on life support with a breathing tube.  He wasn’t going to make it.  I couldn’t believe it.  He was fine a day ago and now he was suddenly about to slip away forever.  My mind literally couldn’t wrap my head around it.  My dad was there about 5 minutes after Matt & I.  The four of us were able to go in and be with him.  We said our goodbyes and collectively held/pet him as they let him go.  It was so hard, but so peaceful at the same time.

But I’m grateful it was fast

Rocco most likely had cancer because there was a throat tumor (that no one knew existed) that was blocking his airway.  Do you believe in signs or a higher being?  I definitely do.  I believe someone was looking out for all of us with how Rocco was handled.  See, he was the type of guy that any of us would literally have given a kidney to.  Yes, I’m aware he was a dog – I don’t care.  I love Rocco more than I love most humans.  If we would have found out he had cancer, we would have done anything to cure it, which may not have been the best choice.

As sad as it was, it was also amazing how it all unfolded.  He did not suffer long – one bad night.  Also, all four of us (my parents, Matt & I) were with him as he passed, which I never expected.  Plus, his body naturally started to shut down.  I genuinely can’t fathom the thought of having to ‘make the call’ if it were his time, so for that, I’m grateful.

Pregnancy makes it even more devastating

It’s hard though because we’re 4 weeks out from welcoming our baby to the family.  I couldn’t help feeling like there was this ‘one in, one out’ component to Rocco’s passing.  The first few days felt so unfair.  He passed away 6 months after (to the day!) the day we told my parents we were pregnant.  It was a not so gentle reminder of how precious life truly is.  When we gave Rocco his ‘going to be an uncle’ t-shirt, I never would have thought he wouldn’t be here to meet our baby.  I had so many visions of family photos with everyone in them, but life had other plans.

Photo Mar 24, 5 04 13 PM

Luckily, we have so many great memories with Rocco.

When I was a senior in high school, I insisted I needed ‘someone to play with’ before heading off to school.  We had been looking at dogs, and my mom mentioned this little white one that she had found.  I went to the puppy store to see him (don’t judge us for that please), and when I walked in we locked eyes.  I swear I’m not lying when I share this… when we locked eyes, Rocco put his paw on the window as if to say ‘pick me,’ and I was forever in love.

That summer, the summer before I started college, I taught him everything I could.  In particular, I taught him how to go down the stairs by putting two paws on the step below him and then swinging his butt to the side to get his two back paws onto the step.  His entire life, he swung his butt to the side to go down the stairs.  While I didn’t realize it looked goofy until it became a habit, it always made my heart smile because he was forever my little puppy no matter how old he was.

We brought Rocco everywhere with us.  After he had back surgery at 8 years old for a slipped disc, we bought him a stroller so he could continue to go everywhere without walking too far.  Rocco had such a mischevious, loving and sweet personality.  We always joked around that someone who was naughty in a previous life was reincarnated as Rocco because he was too human-like.  It’s his personality that contributed towards not only the great memories below, but an idea that hit me a little over 2 months ago.

About 2 months ago, an idea hit me, and I’m acting on it

I mentioned earlier that I believe in signs & a higher being.  Sometimes ideas hit me out of nowhere.  When they do, they’re vivid, very direct and energizing.  It was two months before Rocco passed away (which is when we suspect his cancer started to develop) the idea hit me.  I need to write children’s books called ‘The Adventures of Rocco’ to share with our baby so our baby will always know Rocco.  I mentioned it to my mom immediately who said, ‘Do you not have enough on your plate?’  She was right, but two months later we lost Rocco and it became clear I need to share his amazing personality with the world so we can all enjoy him forever.  He may be gone in the physical sense, but I’m realizing he can live on through stories and hopefully help others!

So, can you help me?

Well, I’m doing it.  I’m going to write a children’s book (that I hope grows into a series) about the Adventures of Rocco.  If I only sell three copies (myself, my mom and mother-in-law [thanks, ladies!]), then that’s OK.  But I’m wondering, can you help me?

  • Do you have a favorite children’s book I should read for inspiration?
  • Do know someone in publishing?
  • Have you done this before?
  • Do you know an illustrator?

I know literally nothing, but that hasn’t stopped me before.  Matt’s committed to helping me too, which will be our first project together since our Dyson days – I’m pumped! I’m as green as they come when it comes to writing a children’s book, so please tell me all the things.  Please leave comments below or email me anytime.  Any inspiring words help to fuel this journey.  Here’s to Rocco!

Affectionately known to her friends as Millennial Martha for her love of DIY and decorating, Jen can’t help but pour her heart + soul into everything she touches. She’s loved to entertain since acquiring a table and chairs, and giving gifts is one of her favorite hobbies. Jen is the creator of Girl Meets Party. Her dream is to share her passions with the world in hopes to inspire others by making the seemingly unattainable attainable.

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