During all my time at Rainbow Bridge I never saw anything like it. Every Bridge Angel sat on the hills overlooking the River of Life, facing the platform where I waited in my robes to swear in our newest member. The Scotties lined up on the stairway leading from the Bridge to me, softly playing bagpipes while behind me the Springer Spaniels kept up a steady drum roll. Every dog who had ever worn a uniform, in the army or for the police, surrounded the platform, all in their dress blues.
That’s when I saw the angel of the hour, Rocco, whose arrival had brought more majesty to the Bridge than I had ever seen.
On the mortal side of the Bridge Rocco worked for the Pittsburgh police department as a K-9 officer. The eight year old German Shepherd was very respected by his human peers. On Tuesday night Officer Rocco was on duty when a bad 21 year old human named John Rush escaped from the custody of an Allegheny County’s sheriff official who was trying to place him under arrest.
The man was found hiding in a nearby basement. When police tried to arrest him he lunged at them with a pocket knife. A human officer received a minor injury during the fight but Rocco, protecting the humans, was injured far worse.
Rocco was rushed by his comrades to the Pittsburgh Specialty Emergency Center. He underwent two surgeries and several blood transfusions. But, after two days of fighting, Rocco agreed it was time to depart the mortal world, leaving heart broken fellow officers, a saddened city, and many souls who had prayed for him.
As Rocco climbed the stairs to the sound of the bagpipes playing and the spaniels’ drumming all the angels rose to attention while the service dogs stood on their back legs, and put their paws to their foreheads in salute. As Rocco got closer I realized his would be the most important swearing in I had ever done and said a little prayer that I wouldn’t mess it up.
When Rocco reached the top of the stairs he put one paw on the Bible and then one on my paw, and, being the gentleman he was on the mortal side, he told me that it was going to be all right, and I swore him in.
Then all the pups arose and began to cheer for him, recognizing him as much of a hero on our side of the Bridge as he was on yours.
And he has been given a position right on the Bridge, protecting us Angels as he protected you humans.
I will sleep better tonight, but I will feel for the people of Pittsburgh, who won’t rest well, knowing that Rocco is no longer on the beat.