ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) – The subjects of one of West Michigan’s strangest news stories have died.
In 2010, residents of western Michigan learned Jerry Douthett’s name after his dog, Kiko, bit his toe and saved his life. Douthett said he was at a bar celebrating his wife Rosee becoming a U.S. citizen the night it happened.
“I probably had five or six beers there, and then we went to the Mexican restaurant next door and they have these huge margaritas,” Douthett told Nexstar’s WOOD-TV in August 2010. “I think that ‘they’re 32 ounces and I killed them and so I didn’t feel any pain, which in retrospect was probably a good thing.
Although more than a decade has passed, Douthett’s wife says she can tell the story like it was yesterday.
“He was really buzzed at the end of the day and fell asleep in our room,” Rosee Douthett said. “He screamed like ‘Dew! You have to come here. I think he put some light on his right foot and saw that his right big toe was gone, then Kiko’s mouth was full of blood.
Douthett says her husband had an infected sore on his big toe. As a registered nurse, she says she begged him to have him checked for several months but her husband, who didn’t like going to the doctor, refused.
Douthett says that when their then puppy bit his toe, Jerry was forced to go to the emergency room to have the rest of the toe removed and treated.
“(While he was there) they also found out that he was diabetic. His blood sugar was in the 800s so it was like he was left untreated, it could be fatal for him, go into septic shock, ”Douthett said. “(The doctors) presented Kiko as a hero because if he hadn’t, he would never have gone to the hospital or found out he had diabetes.”
In August 2020, Jerry was forced to return to the doctor after suffering a toothache.
“We were unable to get an appointment for the dentist as they were backed by all COVID restrictions so it took a few months,” Douthett said. “Finally, when we had this check-up at the dentist, his gums were already eroded, his whole mouth and then here. He was referred to a dentist oncologist who took a biopsy and found a tumor the size of a golf ball that required immediate surgery.
Douthett says that although her husband has never smoked or chewed tobacco, he has been diagnosed with cancer of the mouth and throat. Jerry has had four rounds of chemotherapy and 35 radiation treatments for cancer. During his 10 month battle, Jerry lost the ability to speak, sing, eat, and ultimately walk.
Douthett says Kiko and their cat Lucky were by Jerry’s side the whole time. Jerry lost his battle with cancer last June. He was 58 years old.
Douthett says that after tragically losing her husband, the losses continued. In September, she says their cat died. Then, on October 11, Douthett said their dog Kiko died of kidney disease that caused heart failure. Both animals were 12 years old.
“I struggle with the feeling of loss and I also deny that they are really gone,” Douthett said.
Douthett says losing the three in such a short time made him think about all the memories they’ve made with each other. She says she believes they are all together in Heaven.
“Family members are saying ‘I think Jerry maybe took the animals because he might need them more than you in Heaven,” Douthett said. “I love them so much and when it is my time I’ll meet them there and we’ll be family again.”
Douthett says his friends and family helped host a benefit concert in Cannonsburg in July called Big Jerry Palooza. She says they hope to make the concert an annual event with a different beneficiary each year.
Douthett also says that she has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay Kiko’s remaining medical bills.
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