Rooster, Jacksonville, FL

Hi! I’m Rooster! You may have seen me on Facebook: Rooster Cogburn of Clay County and wondered, “What’s his story?”

My story started when I was dropped off at Clay County Animal Control in May 2012. The people who turned me in said I was a stray but shelter volunteers knew better and could tell this was my “family.” I was thin and had a spiked leather collar on

After examining me, the doctor at the shelter advised that I was in really bad shape and suffering from a severe case of heart worms. Regardless, I quickly became a shelter favorite as I’m just so cool and pretty handsome to boot! 🙂

Sadly, several weeks into his stay at the shelter I had not yet been adopted. I would wag my tail with all my might trying to show everyone that I was a sweet boy. I was shared  by volunteers at Clay County Animal Control to a woman who would become my angel. She had no idea of the severity of my condition until she was sent a photo of me and I was literally foaming at the mouth. She decided she had to help me.

Although she was out of town, she arranged for my pull, transport and initial vetting. Her husband — my amazing foster dad — and her devoted friends rallied to make this happen because they know that time is of the essence.

My health deteriorated so much that on the day I was pulled by Ana’s Angels Animal Rescue, I could no longer lift my head and had seemingly lost hope. I was immediately rushed to the vet. I was vomiting profusely and had lost my bowels.

I went to two vets in one day and they told my angel I wouldn’t make it through the week.

Doctors believed that I would not make it through the night let alone to where we are today. Fluid was pulled off of my abdomen and I was sent home with an arsenal of medication. From May 21 to June 2, I lost 10 pounds of fluid from my abdomen.

I had a scare on June 9. It was not a good day for me because my condition was getting worse. I was in heart failure on my right and left side. This is causing me to cough a lot, breathe rapidly and the collections of fluid on my abdomen and limbs. The profusion causes poor circulation and is the reason I’m anemic. The vet also drew blood to see how my liver levels are doing at this time. My foster mom contacted a specialist to discuss how to proceed.

On June 11, I stayed overnight at University of Florida for observation and was evaluated by the cardiologist. I had an echo, x-rays and blood work done. I was given IV meds and my foster mom prayed I made it through the night. And I did!

My story is one that will have a bittersweet ending.

The bitter: I’m suffering from a case of heart worms so severe that my vet does not believe I will ever be stable enough to receive proper treatment including slow-kill, immiticide and/or surgical removal of the worms. I have partial heart failure as a result of the worms and an x-ray revealed a spot on my liver. I’m a very bad candidate for anesthesia (I’m not well enough to be put under for the already risky procedure of surgically extracting worms). My parents are not willing to put me through this as my chances of survival are extremely low. Also, I will never be completely better; I will always have heart disease. The damage has already been done.

This does not mean that my foster family will stop trying to save me. (I’ve made it this far. :-)) My foster parents have decided to stick to a course of medical management so they can focus on my quality of life, which is their number one priority.

After several weeks or months of taking the various medications prescribed, my foster parents will bring me back to UF for a follow-up and x-rays to see if I would be able to handle a modified course of the immiticide treatment.

The sweet: My foster family are going to see me through to the end. I will never again know the cold floor of a shelter or the cold shoulder of a human. They will take me to vet appointment after vet appointment, get second opinions, wake up in the middle of the night when I’m coughing to soothe me, feed me many times a day and let me tell them when I’m ready to cross the rainbow bridge.

For now, I am starting to feel better. My mom is so proud of me for eating all of my “candy” like a big boy. (She thinks I don’t know it’s medicine. Silly mom.) I also had my first Reiki session; it helped me feel relaxed and full of positive energy. 🙂

Though I’m very sick, you’d never know it by the way I prance around in my home, wagging my little tail as if I don’t have a care in the world or any idea as to my ailments. I love interacting with people, I love lizards, I love cuddling with my foster sister and I still have some pep in my step!

I’m a very happy boy. My foster mom told me I’m the sweetest, most balanced, lovable dog and that she hearts me.

I heart her more. ♥

~ Rooster

Editor’s Note: Sweet Rooster crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on October 27, 2012, which was National Pit Bull Awareness Day.

“His passing was natural & peaceful and in the loving arms of his Daddy. Rooster knew limitless love since the moment we rescued him in May. Over the last 5 months, we (including all of you) have learned so much from Rooster. We simply gave him love, and a warm place to rest his head, and in turn he showed us the true meaning of Fido: faith, loyalty, and trust. Up until the last beat of his heart, he was grateful and loving. From the moment we rescued Rooster, we knew that we had been chosen to learn a lesson from him and to serve a higher purpose. We have created a non-profit organization with the goal of educating the public about heartworm disease, the ease of preventative care, and helping to reduce the number of animals in shelters who have this disease to further support the no-kill movement. Fear not furry friends, it’s Rooster to the Rescue!

Rooster to the Rescue, Inc. is committed to raising the funds necessary to provide supplies and medicine to test and treat heartworm positive dogs and educating the public about heartworm disease, which is 100% preventable. These goals will serve to further strengthen the No-Kill initiative and help to secure a future where there are no more homeless pets!

Support Rooster’s mission. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram! Donations are always needed and greatly appreciated: PayPal to

His parents would like to sincerely thank you for your support in the loving memory of this beautiful soul who touched all our hearts.

Studio photos by Stephanie Knowles of Jaiden Photography