Just two miles from walking through the doors which would silent their partnership forever, Massachusetts State Trooper Christopher Coscia sat in his car and penned a tribute to his beloved K-9 partner Dante.
The German Shepherd, who had been his best friend and partner for years, suffered from pulmonary hypertension which prevented him from getting oxygen to his lungs and a lack of oxygen to his brain. The violent seizures which became a common occurence made it clear Dante would either have to suffer in pain, or Coscia would have to make the difficult decision to put him down.
Below is an excerpt of the letter Coscia penned while sitting in his car, just two miles from reaching the vet and saying goodbye to his friend.
"It all started one day while taking Dante out to his kennel. He collapsed on me, falling like a rock with no control of his body. After several tests it was obvious to the vet that Dante had pulmonary hypertension, a disease of unknown cause that prevented him from getting enough oxygen to his lungs and making him collapse. The right side of his heart was enlarged, causing poor blood circulation. As the weeks went on, he started getting seizures because of the same lack of oxygen to his brain. 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 when I, respectively, when I got Dante. They knew him practically their entire lives.
The day came when it was time to take him to the vet for the inevitable. After more than 2,300 rides that we took together, the dog who had trouble making out to the yard just feet away sat upright in his car for One Last Ride.
It was a ride I had I delayed for eight hours, just 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 sit here writing this obituary in a parking lot not two miles before we reached our final destination. My story is as written, and although it jumps about it is written from the heart. 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. But the more he reassures me, the more I wonder if what I am doing is right. I am glad he made it through the holidays. My wife's birthday was yesterday. I did not want to do that to her; for her to remember her birthday as the day we put down Dante would forever bring a tear to her eye. Much as it does to me as I write this with every new thought and remembrance of my partner, each paragraph brings a new thought and anguish for me."
Trooper Christopher Coscia Massachusetts
State Police K9 Section