In July 2009, a Rhode Island shell fisherman's body washed ashore. The Coast Guard identified the experienced diver as 30 year veteran of his trade, Louis Ricciarelli Jr., 56.
That very morning Ricciarelli's wife had reported her husband, and his chihuahua Rocco, missing. When Ricciarelli's boat was found, there was no chihuahua on board.
Later that day, when retirees Joan and Bill Morgan of Warwick arrived at the wharf with a picnic basket, to watch the boats, they spotted a truck with the door open. Sitting on the seat, waiting patiently but hopelessly for his master's return, was Rocco the chihuahua.
Louis was a beloved local figure missed not only by his family and by Rocco but by many friends in the area. His son Ross and daughter Chelsea (whose name means "Gift of the Sea") continued the family's aquaculture, growing oysters in cages off Wild Goose Point and Fox Island.
Of the chi, daughter Chelsea said, "Rocco is the only chihuahua who goes to work everyday with a fisherman." Rocco always waited in the truck which he would not leave except to pee, which is why the door was left open for him. Louis didn't take Rocco on the boat because he knew the dog would jump in the water after him. Rocco received a lot of attention from people working on or going or coming from the docks, but he always jumped back in the truck and waited on the seat.
When the truck was driven home by a friend of Lou's, Rocco still refused to get out, as Louis wasn't present. He kept waiting and waiting, barely able to perk up his ears. The next day Deborah, so recently widowed, went out in the driveway to ask, "Are those ears up today, Rocco-man? Come on, I need you as much as you need me."