ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — The subjects of one of the strangest news stories in West Michigan have died.
Back in 2010, News 8 reporters introduced West Michigan to Jerry Douthett after his dog, Kiko, bit off his toe and saved his life. Douthett said he was at a bar celebrating his wife Rosee becoming an American citizen on the night it happened.
“I had probably five or six beers there and then we went next door to the Mexican restaurant and they have these huge margaritas,” Douthett told News 8 crews in August 2010. “I think they’re 32 ounces and I killed it and then I was feeling no pain, which in retrospect was probably a good thing.”
Although more than a decade has gone by, Douthett’s wife says she can recount the story like it happened yesterday.
“He was really buzzed at the end of the day and he fell asleep in our room,” said Rosee Douthett. “He screamed like ‘Rosee! You gotta come here.’ I think he put some light on his right foot and saw that his right great toe was gone and 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 get it checked out for several months but her husband, who did not like going to the doctor, refused.
Douthett says when their then puppy bit off his toe, Jerry was forced to go to the emergency room to get the rest of the toe removed and treated.
“(While there) they also found out that he was diabetic. His sugar was in the 800s so it was like if it wasn’t treated, it could be fatal for him, going into septic shock,” said Douthett. “(Doctors) heralded Kiko as a hero because if he didn’t do that, he would never have gone to the hospital or discovered he was diabetic.”
In August of 2020, Jerry was forced to return to the doctor after struggling with a toothache.
“We couldn’t get an appointment for the dentist as they were backed up with all of the COVID restrictions so it took a few months,” said Douthett. “Finally when we had that check at the dentist, his gums were already eroded, the whole mouth and then right here. He was referred to an oncologist dentist who did a biopsy and found a golf (ball) sized tumor that needed immediate surgery.”
Douthett says although her husband never smoked or chewed tobacco, he was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth and throat. Jerry went through four rounds of chemotherapy and 35 radiation treatments for the cancer. During his 10 month battle, Jerry lost the ability to talk, sing, eat and eventually walk.
Douthett says Kiko and their cat Lucky were by Jerry’s side the entire time. Jerry lost his battle with cancer this past June. He was 58.
Douthett says after tragically losing her husband, the losses continued. In September, she says their cat died. Then on Oct. 11, Douthett says their dog Kiko died after kidney disease caused heart failure. Both animals were 12 years old.
“I’m wrestling with the sense of loss and also in denial of are they really gone,” said Douthett.
Douthett says losing all three so close made her think about all the memories they created with each other. She says she believes they’re all together in heaven.
“Family members say ‘I think maybe Jerry took the pets because maybe he needs them more there in heaven than you,'” said Douthett. “I love them so much and when it’s my time, I will meet them there again and we will be a family again.”
Douthett says friends and family helped to host a benefit concert at Cannonsburg in July called Big Jerry Palooza. She says they hope to make the concert an annual event with a different beneficiary every year.
Douthett also says she set up a GoFundMe account to help pay remaining medical bills for Kiko.