Sunday, January 15, 2017

In Loving Memory Of Rock

Family Picture-2015
Our dog Rock became ill very suddenly in November and within 24 hours, we had to make the heart-wrenching decision to let him go. He was diagnosed with acute liver failure and was already showing signs of other organs shutting down. We don't know what caused this--whether he got into something we didn't know about or his body simply got sick. An ultrasound showed nothing wrong while blood tests concluded acute liver failure.

This was a difficult decision to say the least. We absolutely adored our "Little Rock" as we called him. At 70ish pounds, he was anything but little but since he was smaller than us, "Little Rock" he was!
First picture of Rock right after we brought him home. Approximately 4 months old.
We had Rock for almost 9 years. When we first brought him home, I was scared of dogs. But he was cute, we had talked about eventually getting a dog and at the time we lived in a sketchy neighborhood (cheaper rent!) so a large dog was a good thing.

At the time, Andy was going to work at oh-dark-thirty so the dog became my responsibility. I walked him, fed him, rescued him from ridiculous puppy plights, constantly washed my clothing of muddy puppy paws, tried to keep the household together with a large puppy and two toddler boys (I was caring for at the time) who simply could not coexist with one another. If in the house, Rock would chase them, stalk their loveys and eat the toys. Outside, Rock would get himself tangled up in the most amusing and complicated configurations requiring serious intervention.
Silly little puppy.
In the early days, I had many moments of tears and overwhelm. "We have to get rid of this dog!" I told Andy more than once.

But within weeks, the dog had become "my dog". Within months, we had begun to settle into a routine. Within a year, he mostly lived in the house.
Rock and Amelia-2010
Within two years, Rock had calmed down to where he didn't need constant supervision anymore. When I began caring for a young baby, we trained him to be calm around her and not touch the toys. Those few days of training reaped huge benefits as from that day forward, Rock was great with young children and would walk around the toys, never once grabbing things that weren't his or putting the little ones in danger.
Rock and Gabriel-2013
As the years moved on, I couldn't imagine our life without Rock. Somehow I had become a "dog person." I walked him nearly every day which was by far his favorite activity. He understood the words: 'walk', 'stroll', 'go', 'outside', 'treat', 'cookie', 'clean up' and probably some others too.
Rock with his beloved chenille blanket-2015
If we dropped food on the floor, we would call, "Clean up, Rock!" and he would come, head bent down looking at the floor. Even out of a dead sleep, he would come. He had an uncanny sense of cheese being removed from the refrigerator and would come at a high rate of speed and park under me at the counter hoping for a morsel. The smell of bacon cooking also lured him into the kitchen.
He kept us laughing-- the way he lurked around when we were eating meals together at the he would put himself in "time out" and lay with his head in a corner...when he'd roll in the grass or leaves and be covered with debris and stand at the door like he expected us to let him in like that. How he inspected every.single.item that came into the house and how alert he would become if I walked into the laundry room as that's where his leash was stored. Even a plastic bag would grab his attention as I would use those to pick up his waste on our walks.
Walk + Snow= Best Day Ever!
Rock as the subject of Mommy's humor when drying him off.
Being silly trying to rub his "Gentle Leader" off; even though we used it for walks from the time he was a young puppy, he still tried to get it off every.time. We called this activity the "Guided Missile".
Rock was big and looked rather gruff but other than occasional barks at strangers and a few moments where he seemed to get protective of us or the kids, we were certain that he was convinced that we were here to protect HIM, not the other way around! However, his size kept many strangers at bay which wasn't a bad thing. Andy jokes that he protected us from tortilla chips since if one fell on the floor, Rock would leap over our feet to get to it as if his very life depended on that crunchy little chip.
Go Cubs! Last picture taken of Rock in a Cubs bandana I sewed for him. Rock passed away the morning after the Cubs won the World Series. A bittersweet day for Andy as a lifelong Cubs fan.
 It is ironic to note that on his first car ride with us as a puppy, I refused to sit in the backseat with him. But on what turned out to be his last car ride, I sat on the floor of the van beside him as we rushed him to the Emergency Animal Hospital in the middle of the night after he experienced a massive seizure and was completely unresponsive.
Rock loved snow! Also staring at his people...
Time and experience changes us. Rock added an extra something to our lives that we would have never thought a dog could give.  He bumbled his way into our home and then into our hearts. He wasn't a person but he was definitely a member of our family.

We miss you, Rachmaninov P., and are certain you will never be forgotten!


Anonymous said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss. Dogs really do become members of our families.

Rhonda said...

Oh Mary Ann, this is such a sweet tribute to Rock. I know you are heartbroken and it will take a lot of time to get through it.
I'm so sorry. ❤️
We lost our Theo 4 years ago and just now got another puppy.
When my brother lost his Dodger, he got a new puppy within a week.
Everyone handles it differently.

Rest In Peace, Rock. You were most certainly loved.

Wendi said...

What a great tribute! They certainly do become like family. I put my goldie, Hanna, down 19 years ago due to cancer. I know the pain that comes with making that tough, tough decision. I still don't have the heart to get another dog. I imagine it wasn't easy to write this. Thanks for sharing about your beloved, Rock, will us!

Jo said...

We lost our dog in 2004; I miss her to this day.
Thank you for sharing Rock's story.
(We currently have a cat who won't allow any other animals in the house!)

Melanie said...

I'm so sorry, Mary Ann. It looks like he was very well-loved.♥ We've been there, and I know it is so hard. ((Hugs)) to you...take care, ~Melanie

Debbie J said...

He was a good dog and this was a very well written tribute!