A Massachusetts State Police trooper's Facebook tribute to his K-9 partner has become a social media sensation. The Mass. trooper's partner dog Dante recently had to be put down. Now the heartfelt goodbye letter he penned is going viral and morphing into an internet smash.
The decision to end the German Shepherd's life was understandably difficult, according to Coscia. As of Wednesday afternoon, his post about the life and times of Dante, the crime-fighting dog, had already generated nearly half a million Facebook views.
And by Thursday morning, the online homage had generated more than 20,000 "Likes," more than 12,000 "Shares," and over 6,000 comments, not to mention mainstream media coverage from outlets such as the New York Daily News.
The touching story has also jumped the pond, even being picked up by the Daily Mail, one of Britain's major newspapers. They called Coscia's tribute to Dante a heartbreaking farewell, that shows, "the inseparable bond of police partners, no matter their species."
Coscia starts his post wrestling with "the unenviable task" of having to decide when to put his crime-fighting partner of nearly nine years to sleep.
"Most dogs are just dogs, but you sometimes run into ones that are somehow as much human as they are dog," the trooper said, adding, "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."
Some of Dante's memorable accomplishments include tracking and locating a man who had just murdered his girlfriend. Another time he located a cash seizure several times greater than the previous largest seizure in the commonwealth's history.
Coscia noted that Dante helped rid the Bay State of more than 1,000 grams of heroin, 8,600 grams of cocaine, and more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana throughout his law enforcement career.
Clearly Dante's superior intelligence was on display when the canine figured out how to open doors with handles, clamping down with his mouth, and then pulling and turning.
The trooper remembered how his companion took this new knowledge and self-taught himself to slide open the cruiser divider door that separated the two, his way to always be close to him.
Unfortunately the powerful and intelligent dog took a sudden health turn for the worse when he collapsed, and tests revealed Dante had pulmonary hypertension.
The disease prevented him from getting enough oxygen to his lungs. The right side of his heart became enlarged causing poor blood circulation, Coscia said.
As weeks went by, Dante began suffering seizures due to the lack of oxygen to his brain. In one instance, the policeman sat on the snowy ground with Dante, gently patting him as he waited for the seizure to pass.
Afterward, the man and his faithful dog headed indoors to find Coscia's wife and daughter crying, knowing what Dante's fate was. The couple's daughter and son were 1 and 3, respectively, when their father first brought Dante home.
The kids had known him practically their entire lives. But a tough decision had to be made. When it came time to take Dante to the vet for the last time, the dog who had trouble making it out of the yard, "sat upright in his car for One Last Ride," Coscia wrote.
It was a ride he had delayed for eight hours, just driving around with Dante as they'd done so many times, as the trooper struggled with the decision to put him down.
"He sat upright, alert as ever, checking the perimeter (and) always on guard. How does the dog who can barely breathe remain upright and vigilant for so long?", Coscia wondered.
Coscia wrote the cyber tribute to his partner with tears in his eyes, flowing freely down his face. He is surely not alone in that now as readers continue to share his special story.
"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," Coscia said.