What Rocco Taught Me

The passing of K9 Officer Rocco changed PittGirl's perspective on animals.



 

I’m not someone you would call an animal lover. I’m more of an animal tolerator. Sure, you could put me in the “dog-person” slice of the pie chart if you were making one. I think hedgehogs are adorable, and I wouldn’t kick a teacup pig out of my path. But animals in general aren’t on my list of loves. (That list contains Nutella, autumn, David Conrad and life-affirming, spirit-cleansing caffeine.)

I don’t like cats, and they don’t like me. I know this because they try to scratch my heart out of my chest when they sense I’ve entered a room. Sometimes I hear them scream, “KAMIKAZE!” as they fly through the air.

Birds might as well be adorned with the mark of the Beast, for they certainly possess no qualities that I find endearing. Did you hear about the wild turkey that this winter attacked patrons of an Eighty-Four, Pa., gas station because they gave off a whiff of fear?

Why, you ask? Because fear is bird chum.

And the pigeons — which we should completely separate from birds because they are vermin — are the Johnny Lawrence to my Daniel LaRusso in the movie of my life. I’m pretty sure Satan is the one exhorting them to “sweep the leg.”

My point is that I’m generally wary of nonhumans. I don’t trust that they won’t suddenly obey the primal voices in their heads telling them to “get her.” I won’t turn my back on a ferret, and I’m not sure I would trust a “docile” house rabbit not to sink its chompers in my ankle flesh at first chance.

Don’t even get me started on PETA, lest I find my lawn littered with a swath of naked protesters holding thrashing kamikaze cats.

This broad distrust of the animal kingdom means I place a much higher value on the life of a human over that of an animal. I donate to charities that help people, and I’ve often looked a bit judgingly on those who chose to donate chunks of cash to animal organizations when they could put those same dollars toward aiding their fellow humans.

Then Rocco died.

Rather, Pittsburgh K-9 Officer Rocco was slain in the line of duty. In front of his partner. By a knife-wielding assailant they had attempted to bring in with an arrest warrant.

Rocco was killed doing what he had been trained to do — protect his human from harm. I wasn’t there. None of us were. But I’d bet my bottom dollar that Rocco didn’t hesitate. He charged. He attacked. He went for the man with the weapon.

He took the knife blade into his body so that his human did not. His blood was shed, and his life willingly was given so that his partner could go home to his family physically whole, albeit emotionally broken.

As for me, I never sob at anything — including sad TV scenes and depressing movies — and my husband will tell you that. Yet I’m crying as I type this. Not only did Rocco show that animals can be viewed as legitimate heroes, but he also showed me that animals are worthy of our charitable hearts and dollars.

Perhaps I’ll continue to choose humans over animals when it comes to philanthropy, but I’ll stop wondering why some choose the opposite. It’s not for any of us to judge, and Rocco taught me that. Maybe he taught you that. Maybe he’ll teach others that.

He was a true hero with a well-deserved police badge. His passing will ripple in many directions for a long time. Because of that, his death never will have been in vain — we won’t let it be.

I still hate cats and birds. And I still roll my eyes at PETA’s insistence on protecting the house fly — which, by the way, I kill with an electric bug-zapping racket because I like the frying sound.

But this girl is Team Rocco all the way. 
 

■ Donations can be made online at community.pittsburghfoundation.org/rocco.


Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in August

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in August

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Downtown Pittsburgh is booming. The Golden Triangle has grown in ways that previous generations may never have envisioned, and the perception of the neighborhood at the heart of Pittsburgh is changing rapidly –– for the better.
And The Winner Is....

And The Winner Is....

Meet the top vote getter in our 2016 Cutest Pet Contest.
The Region's Top Dentists 2016

The Region's Top Dentists 2016

Our latest list includes 368 topDentists in eight specialities from around the region.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

ReplayFX Turns Convention Center Into Giant Arcade

ReplayFX Turns Convention Center Into Giant Arcade

The second annual gaming festival at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center brings 8-bits of weekend fun.
Environmental Art Project to Light Up Pittsburgh Bridge for the Holidays

Environmental Art Project to Light Up Pittsburgh Bridge for the Holidays

Riverlife hopes the temporary project will lead to permanent, decorative lighting of all three of the city's Sister bridges.
Mt. Lebanon Native Daya Nominated for MTV Video Music Award

Mt. Lebanon Native Daya Nominated for MTV Video Music Award

It's the first MTV nomination for the 17-year-old singing sensation.
Remembering A Rescuer of Gentle Giants

Remembering A Rescuer of Gentle Giants

Richard Kohl devoted most of his adult life to caring for homeless large-breed dogs.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in August

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in August

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Downtown Pittsburgh is booming. The Golden Triangle has grown in ways that previous generations may never have envisioned, and the perception of the neighborhood at the heart of Pittsburgh is changing rapidly –– for the better.
And The Winner Is....

And The Winner Is....

Meet the top vote getter in our 2016 Cutest Pet Contest.
The Region's Top Dentists 2016

The Region's Top Dentists 2016

Our latest list includes 368 topDentists in eight specialities from around the region.
Restaurant Review: Smallman Galley

Restaurant Review: Smallman Galley

The first crop of chefs in the Strip District restaurant incubator are four real.
The 10 Best Smiles in Pittsburgh

The 10 Best Smiles in Pittsburgh

Plus - we poll dentists included in our 2016 list of topDentists for their opinions and tips gleaned from years of experience in their profession.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


ReplayFX Turns Convention Center Into Giant Arcade

ReplayFX Turns Convention Center Into Giant Arcade

The second annual gaming festival at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center brings 8-bits of weekend fun.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Eat, Drink and Learn: The Three Day Blow is Coming

Eat, Drink and Learn: The Three Day Blow is Coming

“A food and drink festival that’s deeply rooted in place — in this case Pittsburgh and the Rust Belt" is coming to Pittsburgh at the end of August.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

Grab your kits, scarfs and get ready to watch the Euro 2016 Pittsburgh-style. We'll show you where to go to get your fan on.

Comments


Garfield Bar Mixtape Is a Great Hangout (And a Good Bar, Too)

Garfield Bar Mixtape Is a Great Hangout (And a Good Bar, Too)

Part craft-cocktail joint and part coffee bar, the welcoming spot wants you to stay a while.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Optimism With An Asterisk As Good As It Gets In Steelers Training Camp

Optimism With An Asterisk As Good As It Gets In Steelers Training Camp

Although NFL teams never simply pick up where they left off the previous season, there’s reason to believe the 2016 Steelers could resemble the team that came agonizingly close to knocking off the eventual Super Bowl Champion Broncos in Denver last January.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Namaste! Sandals Made from Yoga Mats

Namaste! Sandals Made from Yoga Mats

Sanuk’s Yoga Sling Sandal are super comfy yet chic.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
"Bad Moms" and a Bad "Bourne" Make For a Rough Weekend

"Bad Moms" and a Bad "Bourne" Make For a Rough Weekend

Reviews of "Jason Bourne" and "Bad Moms," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
A Whimsical Wedding in Wonderland

A Whimsical Wedding in Wonderland

This Pittsburgh bride brought all the details together for a flawless “Alice in Wonderland”-themed wedding.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Coming Soon: Historic Lawrenceville Building Ready for Makeover

Coming Soon: Historic Lawrenceville Building Ready for Makeover

Real estate crowd-funding platform Small Change Pittsburgh is raising funds to transform the Butler Street building.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Online Education at Edinboro University Nationally Ranked

Online Education at Edinboro University Nationally Ranked

The university landed in the top 10 schools for disabled students seeking an online education.

Comments