Rocco, the beloved canine inspiration behind a popular Brooklyn Heights pet shop, died of bone cancer on Jan. 5. He was 45 (in dog years).
The sad-eyed Italian Mastiff — who was rescued from an abusive owner only to become the namesake of Rocco and Jezebel for Pets — was euthanized after a six-month battle with the illness, according to his human family members.
“He’d always come lean against you and look up with those eyes — he was a big mush,” said Andrea Demetropoulos, owner of the dog and the shop. “He was a phenomenal creature.”
Demetropoulos first met her furry pal at an animal rescue booth on Court Street seven years ago, just days after workers saved the puppy from an apparently sadistic household in DUMBO.
“He was beaten, bloody and broken,” she said. “They had completely tortured him.”
Demetropoulos brought the filthy and emaciated pooch home only to face another challenge: convincing her husband to let him stay.
She reasoned with him — “He’s Italian; you’re Italian!” — and Rocco moved in for good.
In his new home, Rocco thrived. He bonded immediately with the family dog, Jezebel, with whom he would play and snuggle. He quickly grew from 75 to 140 pounds and slowly started to regain his trust in humans.
In 2009, Demetropoulos had the opportunity to take over the Pineapple Walk pet shop Tailored Pet following the original owner’s death.
A long-time Tailored Pet employee, Demetropoulos considered reopening the shop as the Primo and Rose Pet Store — an homage to the boutique’s two resident cats.
But the real-life “Lady and the Tramp” story playing out in her own home became the inspiration for the store’s name.
Rocco and Jezebel For Pets opened in 2009 and Rocco assumed the role of neighborhood celebrity, spending his days lounging in the shop near Henry Street.
He held court in the store until August, when his health began to falter.
The family cremated Rocco after a tearful ceremony on Thursday, saying, “We will miss him terribly.”
Jezebel has struggled to move on following her pal’s passing.
“You can see it in her face — she’s depressed. She’s been moping around, lying in the spots Rocco used to sit,” said Demetropoulos.
There are no plans for a public memorial, but Rocco fans can share thoughts on his Facebook page, where one commenter wrote, “Farewell, sweet doggy.”
Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.