Family Mourns Beloved Rescue Dog Rooster, Spreads Pet Loss Awareness

by Lisa

In June 2020, when Kate Schakols laid eyes on Rooster, a chocolate Lab mix adopted by her family, an immediate connection was forged. “I fell so in love,” she shares exclusively with PEOPLE. “He is just one of the most beautiful dogs I’ve ever seen, inside and out.”

At the time of adoption from Gulf Coast STARS rescue, Rooster was estimated to be between 10 to 12 years old. Schakols recalls the medical history conveyed by the rescue, detailing benign lumps, heartworm, and fleas, all of which had been treated. Additionally, Rooster suffered from cataracts in one eye, causing blindness, and wore-down elbow pads and teeth due to life on the streets.


Despite the challenges, Schakols and her family were dedicated to Rooster’s well-being, including softening his kibble with boiling water. “I could never possibly repay Rooster for how much joy and love he brought to my life,” she reflects.


Tragically, just 28 days after his adoption, Rooster succumbed to a sudden bout of “dog bloat,” a condition explained by veterinarians as having no discernible cause. “The vet confirmed there was nothing we could’ve done, but for me, that just increased the feeling of helplessness,” Schakols expresses. “It became clear that the only right thing to do was to choose humane euthanasia.”


In a poignant TikTok slideshow, viewed over 40 million times, Schakols shares her and Rooster’s journey, starting with their initial meeting. The narrative unfolds through text overlays on each photo, offering poignant insights from Rooster’s perspective, including expressions of love for his family and gratitude for the time spent together.


Despite the heartache of Rooster’s passing, Schakols bravely shares her story on social media to combat the stigma surrounding pet loss grief. “All I ever want from my page is to encourage people to understand that pet loss is valid and a very real type of disenfranchised grief,” she asserts, emphasizing the importance of acknowledging the depth of emotions involved.

While Schakols has since welcomed other pets into her life, including a senior cat named Archie and a mixed-breed pup named Millie, the memory of Rooster remains indelible. “The bond I had with Rooster was unreal,” she reflects. “I’d never felt that specific type of connection before, and it was obvious to everyone that he had chosen me to be his person.”


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