RIP, Sweet Rocky

First of all, just in case anyone actually reads this, I apologize for being the worst blogger ever. I know I am supposed to be “establishing myself as an author” and blogging could be part of that. Or at least it is for other people. I just never remember to post anything.

Anyway, the subject of today’s blog is our sweet Rocky, who passed away on February 24, 2022. He had lymphoma. He was first diagnosed on October 9th, 2021. The vet aspirated his chest, his lymph nodes and his legs, and he had cancer everywhere. His prognosis was one to two months.

We got Rocky about nine years ago because no one else wanted him. Well, not strictly true. He was in rescue, Big Fluffy Dog Rescue. He had a foster family, who stuck with him for a couple of weeks, then gave up. So he went to another foster family, then they gave him back and Rocky (his name was Alex at the time) went to boarding. Then someone agreed to foster him, and things were going…okay? I guess? But they went on vacation, so he went to his vacation foster family. That was for a week. It was around this time that we expressed interest in him, because he was going back to boarding if we didn’t take him. The vacation foster family was done with him, and the other family didn’t want him back.

Apparently, Rocky has a massive peeing problem. Not only did he not appear to ever have been housebroken, but he also had an obsession with water. He would drink massive amounts of water, and then pee everywhere. Did I mention Rocky was huge?

After a flurry of texts, we agreed to take him as a foster. They gave us diapers for him, which he was adamantly against. He also peed everywhere, and worse yet, had diarrhea. He was not a fun dog.

Even though he was an adult, we got a (super-sized) crate, and crate trained him like he was a puppy. I took him outside, he drank all the water he could find, peed, and we went back inside and into the crate he went. I’d take him out, and he went back into the crate. Gradually, we lengthened the amount of time he could stay outside his crate while he was in the house, and within three weeks, he had it down pat. We said we wanted to be his new family. I think he just needed some stability in his life because in spite of all his issues, he really was the sweetest boy.

Although he got the housebreaking thing down, he was still pretty much a royal pain in the ass. I would bring him to the dog park, where everyone would sit on the picnic table and admire their well-behaved dogs. When it was time to go, Rocky would play keep away, running away from me and laughing. Yes, laughing. I swear, he laughed. Then I would have to run back and forth for twenty minutes, looking like an idiot, trying to convince Rocky to get in the damn car. One time, I realized I couldn’t find him at all. Then he stuck his big head up, looking at me in the woods beyond the park. He had jumped the fence, figuring the dog park was getting a wee bit boring. He did that a few times until a woman basically told us that if he kept jumping the fence, her dogs were going to figure out they could jump the fence, and could we not come back, please?

He did the same thing at home. He would bolt for the door, and off he’d go. Sometimes I could corner him, or he’d give up, but he would bounce around the neighborhood, tail wagging with joy. He would loop around, to show us that he was fine, and also to emphasize the point that we couldn’t catch him.

My son Ben’s 21st birthday was going to be a fun occasion. Ben is on the autism spectrum and had never even had a sip of beer, but he was going to try it because it was his birthday. Rocky escaped around 3:00 p.m. He refused to come in. He was having a great time and did not want to negotiate. We couldn’t leave with our big, dumb dog running around the neighborhood, so Ben had take-out instead of going to a restaurant. Did I mention there was a huge thunderstorm? Did this inspire Rocky to seek shelter? No, no it did not. He ran around, laughing, digging in the neighbor’s gardens, having his best time ever. By 10:00 p.m. he still wasn’t home (although he did run past the house from time to time, so we’d know he wasn’t dead). I volunteered to sleep on the couch. I figured he would scratch at the door when he was ready.

I didn’t sleep well. The couch was bumpy and uncomfortable, but I also kept waking up, thinking I heard him, only to be disappointed. Finally, FINALLY, at 3:00 a.m. I thought I heard a faint scratching. I bolted to the door, and there was Rocky. He was tired and hungry, but clearly, he didn’t feel that bad about making us worry for the past 12 hours. “You’re a moron,” I said before I went to bed.

We got a lovely new fence, mostly for Rocky. Installed in September, it features a six-foot privacy fence in the front and then chain-link along the sides and the back. This way, Rocky would not have to be attached to his tether (which we had to do, because otherwise, he’d escape). We have another dog, incidentally, Maggie, whose never been a problem at all. She stays in the yard, barks a bit (Rocky was really quiet) and is no trouble at all.

All seemed to go well. For a week. Then I walked out into the yard at 4:00 in the morning (Rocky liked to get up at least once every night, to pee and to drink water–he never really let go of that). Rocky was gone. Gone. WTF? He trotted home around 7:00 a.m. but we couldn’t figure out how he got out. In his younger days, he easily could’ve jumped, but he was now almost ten. We found out he was slithering underneath the chain link when I put him on his tether and he foolishly tried it again and got stuck. So, the fence guys came back and put dog wire on the bottom of the fence. Great.

A few weeks later, he slithered under the damn fence again. By this time, he had been diagnosed with lymphoma already, so he didn’t feel his best, but his tail wagged and he pranced around and ran like a puppy. For an hour. Then he scratched at the door. “Hey, Mom, I’m home!” Idiot. But I was kind of glad he had one last hurrah.

Our dear sweet, stubborn boy passed away on February 24, 2022.

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