Mesa firefighters help dying pup cross first item off bucket list

Posted at 2:29 PM, Jan 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-14 06:55:35-05

Rocko the dog hasn’t lived an easy life. However, some generous Mesa firefighters are hoping to turn it around during his final weeks.

Melissa Gable, a spokeswoman for Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, says the Labrador mix was first surrendered to MCACC’s Mesa campus because his owner was moving and could no longer take care of him.

Last March, he was adopted again but returned to the shelter a month later. In May, another person adopted the pup but once again he was surrendered – this time because he was sick.

Veterinarians and volunteers at MCACC originally diagnosis him with allergies and he received treatment at a foster home. However, his dry skin and sores continued and further testing revealed that he had lymphosarcoma, an incurable disease, Gable explained.

Rocko was prescribed drugs to help alleviate his symptoms, however, these days they’re starting to lose their effectiveness and it’s only a matter of time before he loses the battle to the disease.

His foster parent, Michael Mosteller, says it's even more heartbreaking because Rocko doesn't understand that he's sick.

"It's probably going to be hard to say goodbye to him because I have bonded with him," Mosteller said.

Mosteller, a former marine, struggles with PTSD. He volunteers at the shelter in his spare time and explained that Rocko is really the one taking care of him.

"Honestly, from day-to-day they...rescue me," Mosteller said. "So, honestly it's very emotional."

MCACC volunteers helped create a “bucket list” for Rocko. The first item on his list: to hitch a ride on a fire engine.

And Mosteller isn't the only person to have formed a bond with Rocko, multiple volunteers at MCACC have too. Gable said watching him on the fire truck was extremely emotional.

"We were OK and then they drove him by the street with the lights and sirens and that...that was tough and I don't know why," Gable said.

On Friday morning, the Mesa Fire Department allowed Rocko to go on a ride with them and he was able to check the first item off his bucket list.

His adventures are expected to continue over the next several weeks and on Saturday, they're arranging a puppy party at an animal-friendly venue.