Facebook; GoFundMe Jerry Douthett and his dog Kiko
A Michigan man and his dog shared a special bond during their time together — and that bond continues to have an impact.
Rosee Douthett's husband Jerry died in June at age 58, more than 10 years after his beloved dog Kiko saved his life by biting off his toe, according to NBC affiliate WOOD.
While grieving the loss of her husband, Rosee said their cat Lucky died in September, followed by Kiko on Oct. 11, the outlet reported. Though both animals were 12-years-old, their deaths were heartbreaking for Rosee, especially since they came so close to Jerry's passing.
"I'm wrestling with the sense of loss and also in denial of, 'Are they really gone?' " she told WOOD. "Family members say, 'I think maybe Jerry took the pets because maybe he needs them more there in heaven than you.' "
"I love them so much and when it's my time, I will meet them there again and we will be a family again," she added.
Rosee said it was back in 2010 when their beloved dog saved Jerry's life, according to WOOD.
That night, the pair were celebrating Rosee becoming an American citizen by drinking large margaritas at a bar, the outlet reported.
"He was really buzzed at the end of the day and he fell asleep in our room," Rosee, who works as a registered nurse, recalled to WOOD. "He screamed like 'Rosee! You gotta come here.' I think he put some light on his right foot and saw that his right great toe was gone and then Kiko's mouth was full of blood."
As it turned out, Jerry had been dealing with an infected sore on his big toe — and despite previous encouragement from his wife to get it checked out, Jerry refused, WOOD reported.
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It wasn't until Kiko took matters into his own hands and bit off Jerry's toe that the man was required to go to the hospital and have the rest of his limb removed, per the outlet.
"[While there] they also found out that he was diabetic," Rosee explained to WOOD. "His sugar was in the 800s ,so it was like if it wasn't treated, it could be fatal for him, going into septic shock."
"[Doctors] heralded Kiko as a hero because if he didn't do that, he would never have gone to the hospital or discovered he was diabetic," she added.
Following the incident, Jerry recovered and went on to live another 10 years before returning to the doctor in August 2020 due to pain from a toothache.
This time, doctors determined that Jerry had cancer of the mouth and throat, despite never having smoked or chewed tobacco, according to WOOD.
"We couldn't get an appointment for the dentist as they were backed up with all of the COVID restrictions so it took a few months," Rosee explained to the outlet. "Finally, when we had that check at the dentist, his gums were already eroded, the whole mouth."
Jerry ultimately underwent four rounds of chemotherapy and 35 radiation treatments over a course of 10 months for his "golf [ball]-sized tumor," according to WOOD.
He slowly lost his ability to talk, sing, eat and walk, but Rosee told the outlet that Kiko and Lucky remained by his side until he died in June.
Things got worse for the widower when her pets passed away one month apart, with Kiko dying of heart failure caused by kidney disease, WOOD reported.
On a GoFundMe page Rosee set up to help pay the remaining medical bills for Kiko, she said losing her dog right after Lucky and Jerry's deaths caused a "crushing grief in my heart."
"We snuggled until it was time for him to rest and sleep with the angels," she added. "I was wailing as I hugged him tightly but I let him go…because he was no longer in pain."
So far, the GoFundMe page has raised $2,000. Rosee also told WOOD that her friends and family put together a benefit concert at Cannonsburg in July called Big Jerry Palooza. Their hope is to make the concert an annual event with a different beneficiary each year.
Those interested in donating to the GoFundMe page can do so here.