Tribute to Rico
I knew this day would come. We all do. It’s an accepted aspect of being involved with dogs. I knew it would be heartbreaking and extremely difficult. What I didn’t know, is how universally leveled losing this particular dog would make me feel. Even knowing it would come, having been through it a number of times before, nothing prepared me for what I’m feeling in losing this amazing soul of a dog, Rico.
Sad, Broken, crushed and overflowing with hopeless despair. Wishing for just one more minute, to see his chest rise and fall just one more time to know he’s still there, his eyes locking with mine with that unspoken connection of purpose for one another. One more long pet starting at his head and going down his spine. Hoping like hell for just one more, that I’ll never have.
Being in this industry, I’m well aware of the “once in a lifetime” dog - and how magnificently fortunate any of us are to have that one dog.
Where do I even begin in trying to capture what Rico has brought into my life? He’s been the icon. The foundation. The flagship. The benchmark. One that feels like the end of an era, in trying to reconcile his passing. I can’t. I don’t think I ever will. He’s been a family guardian, one who my children grew up with. He was “their” dog that any child would remember as being there throughout their entire childhood. But so much more than that. The balance of being so careful and ginger, yet so fiercely violent in an instant if need be. So caring and playful, yet stoic and unyielding in the face of the gravest of danger.
He’s been an advocate for the breed, helped tell the story on 60 minutes “sniffing for bombs” episode of how amazing these dogs are that serve in the military and police forces, search and rescue, and many others that augment mankind and save countless lives. Hes been on Fox and Friends, the CBS morning show, with me during countless interviews spanning a host of platforms, always stealing the show and was unquestionably the hit of all of them. He’s been a star in the smash hit game “Call of duty Ghosts” where K9’s were first used in a game like that. He’s “signed” (bitten) thousands of books during my signing tours, and if I’m honest with myself- he’s the reason I was invited, not the other way around. He's been on stage at countless speaking events I’ve done, performed demonstrations at a multitude of events and evenings of tribute. Accompanied me traveling all over the country to work with other K-9 units, helped me work other dogs and been a classic example for what a balanced yet thunderously driven working dog should be. He was the grand marshal for a freedom ride at Sturgis bike rally which led hundreds of bikers to help raise money for veteran charities. The list of his accolades and accomplishments go on and on.
But, most importantly- he was my dog. My family’s dog. Best friend, partner, defender, eyes ears, and nose that always helped keep us safe. He was the consummate, textbook example of everything these dogs should be. And I, was the woefully, undeserving human that was lucky enough to have the universe allow me to be so blessed by having him in my life for over a decade. There will never be another dog that can replace him, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Shoes that big can never be filled, nor should it be attempted that they be. I’ll be forever grateful to have been able to have countless amazing memories with him and my children from toddlers to teenagers, my business passion/career, and deep in my heart forever.
Special thank you to all who have ever worked with him. Dozens of decoys, training partners and those who have helped take care of him over the years. Dr K. for always taking amazing care of him, from the very start, all the way to the final seconds, last breath and even beyond. Also - the Netherlands, the KNPV, Mr Jack- who was selfless enough to allow me to have him, and to Matt Betts with International K9 Exchange sourcing Rico to my family and I.
I appreciate everyone who has had their lives impacted by him in any way, I’d love to hear any stories anyone would like to share in remembering him. I’ll be doing some memorial type arrangements for him, and will post once completed. I’d also like to ask if there is anyone out there that has a “signed/bitten” Trident K9 warriors book by him- I’d love the opportunity to buy it back and compensate in way that makes it worth letting it go.
Thank you all, my heart is crushed in losing him, but I’m forever grateful to have so many amazing memories with such a special dog. For those wanting to know what happened, his kidneys started to shut down in his later years, and the day after Christmas he took a severe turn downward. After fighting through the week, on New Year’s Eve we took him into our amazing vet that has been there from the beginning for a a blood test. His levels were past the point of being able to come back from, so we made the impossible decision to let him go. He was surrounded by myself and his girls, that he protected so fiercely until his last breath with all of us hugging him in tears as he quietly was relieved of all his bodies suffering.
It’s hard to no how or where or when to even end writing about how impactful Rico has been. Not just in my life, but in so many others who knew him and followed what he was up to. He was larger than life, beyond what I can comprehend and I don’t know that I’ll ever truly realize or understand how fortunate I was to be his. I have no doubt that the rainbow bridge was just crossed by a guardian warrior that will be forever free to chase everything, bite what deserves it, and perfectly compliment all the other amazing hounds that have left enormous holes in our lives. It’s important to remember all the amazing memories, focusing on all the happy times and unforgettable moments we had with him over the years instead of how painful the loss is. For it is the enormity of the hole left, and the pain felt, that is a direct reflection of just how miraculously amazing he was. Life just won’t ever be the same without him.
Until I see you again braafy hund, I’ll set a ball aside with your name on it for that moment. Rest easy….I love you Rico, you’ll always be my forever soul dog.