Rocky spent his last days at home hiding, or at least where he thought we couldn’t see him. The pain in him was palpable and he knew he was near the end. On April 2, 2018, after returning from work, we feasted on White Castles and then I took my now two resident dogs for one last walk around the neighborhood. I let them take their time. I spent as much time with Rocky as I could. But I couldn’t stop time, and then it was time to go.
We brought Moses along with so he could see where Rocky was going and then he’d know he was okay. We took our time going into the Vet hospital and Rocky was his usual self, which made it even more difficult. But the cancer inside him was great and it would kill him and though I now had the authority to call it off (and I really wanted to) we had to let him go in peace. He was his polite and spunky self to the end and feasted on peanut butter cups and treats unit he had enough. Rocky crossed the Rainbow Bridge peacefully in our arms. He was 15.
We first saw Rocky appear on the Daily Plea two years ago in January of 2016. We knew that if we took him in that he’d likely be be with us until the day he died. He was 13, blind, and bit strangers who just touched him.
He came into RAGOM during a family crisis. We didn’t learn until March of 2018 that he was dropped off at the Sheriff’s office and his Surrendering Owner was forced to call RAGOM from a safe house. We had just had our most recent foster adopted with another rescue organization we volunteer for and had an opening. Rocky was said to be miserable and scared in the shelter, especially being blind.
Our second foster over-all was an old black Labrador mix named “Blackie” who was 12 when we rescued him, and he was adopted, so we have a special soft spot for senior dogs. We told the intake department to bring him up here. He first spent a week in the Rochester area with a fellow RAGOM volunteer. And then in early February of 2016, he was brought to our home. He was nervous at first and I just let him sniff me. Then I went inside and let Moses into our backyard and let them meet though the fence. Both were wagging their tails in a happy manner. After a minute, I let Rocky in the gate and they’ve been brothers ever since. Heather came home later and met this lovable old guy. It took Rocky a week or two to allow us to snuggle him.
Rocky was a special needs dog and most people would’ve passed on fostering him, let alone adopting him. We rearranged our house to make it consistent and clutter free. We soon learned that Rocky was old but not feeble. We have a baby gate to keep Moses out of the kitchen but it was fitted on the bottom step and Rocky could still get under it. His FM had spent a half hour cutting up a corned-beef brisket and left it on the counter top and closed the gate. While Moses was in the living room with me, Rocky crawled under the gate and snatched the brisket off the counter top. I then put a grill on the gate to keep Rocky out. Rocky also learned another trick. He learned that if he went outside and did his business, he got a treat as did Moses. He started going outside for one second and immediately coming back in and sitting right in front of where we kept the treats.
Rocky did not do well in loud public situations. We took him once to German Fest in St. Paul and quickly had to leave because he was acting up and becoming impossible to control. This also meant RAGOM’S “Meet and Greet’s” were out. We constantly had to warn people not to touch him and let him come to them. This also meant no little kids. Despite this, Rocky actually had interest applications, but most of them were not a good fit. Once such applicant had chickens, and we had no idea how he was with them. Rocky could see light and dark, and movement. His other senses were sharp as well. He kept chasing the chickens wanting to play with them. So chickens were out. Most people who met him asked the same question, “Why can’t he just stay with you?” And stay with us he did.
Rocky loved to meet other dogs, so Goldzilla was a treat for him. Whenever Rocky sensed the presence of another dog, he’d start whining and looking for the dog. We have a neighbor female Newfoundland who was a regular sight on our walks. We’d pass by and she’d come to her fence to say hello. He was also a joy at RAGOM volunteer gatherings. But still, we always had to protect Rocky from people, and people from Rocky.
Rocky had far more energy than his younger brother. He’d always want to go, go, go on walks and hikes and it was Moses who had to be dragged. He liked to wade in the water and stroll through the woods. He was also a good guard dog. His hearing was quite keen and he’d bark whenever he heard the mailman, or any other noise. His first 4th of July was a real challenge for us.
Rocky was only a snuggler on his terms. If we went to him and snuggled him, he’d get up and move the second we stopped. However every time we’d lay down for a nap, he’d come to the side of the bed and stick his head up to be petted. He’d do the same whenever we sat at the desk. He stayed off the furniture even though we encouraged him to lay with us. He just preferred to stay on the floor.
He loved car rides and would just lay down. He handled stairs like a pro if he was familiar with them. He could not see stationary objects. Once an Halo was donated to him and we used it when out in public, like at tap rooms and breweries.
Rocky, you were a great dog and a sweet, sweet boy. You filled our lives and our home with great joy. We protected you from walls, storms, squirrels, other dogs, traffic, and people; but ultimately, we could not protect you from time and cancer.
You were the youngest “old” dog we had ever seen and although passerby’s always asked about Moses, we were no less proud of you and loved you no less. We found your forever home after all: us. You ran a great race and fought the good fight. It was an honor and a privilege to foster you, and then be your final forever home. Your paw prints are permanently etched in our hearts and we will never forget you. Good night sweet prince. May your memory be eternal.
To Rocky’s original owner, we think we know how hard it was to have to give him up. Please know that we loved him as our own and did everything we could to give him the best home he deserved. Thank you for calling RAGOM and thank you for allowing us the honor of being his final home.
To all members of “Team Rocky” from his first pick up to those who just held his leash for us, thank you for everything you’ve done for him and us.
To RAGOM, thank you for deeming us worthy of fostering him and being his final adoptive home. Thank you for being in existence and for your continued work in rescuing the other Rocky’s out there.
Kevin and Heather K