What I am about to share with you was the worst week of my life. This is not the way I would like to start blogging in the year of 2014.. However, I’ve always stuck to the theory of writing to be the best form of expression; and I need to write to vent, find closure, and come to terms that my dog is no longer with me.
This is something that no dog owner can simply prepare for. We envision that our pets will be with us forever, and spiritually, I’m sure that is the case. But physically on earth, I have never thought of the day when I would be without Rocky.
It’s inevitable that we all grow older. We thought that Rocky was coming to age with himself, and suspected arthritis to be his main physical issue. It slowly became harder for Rocky to get around – between slowing down his pace during our daily walks, and squatting his back legs while he was trying to stand straight. These actions have led us to speculate that Rocky was not himself anymore. We proceeded to go through numerous blood scan tests for Rocky. Maybe it could be Lyme’s disease? Maybe we can find medication to restore his joints and prevent further muscle deterioration? So many questions and concerns went through our minds, and we were willing to do anything we could to keep Rocky alive and well.
It got to the point where Rocky could not walk up stairs, sit in an up-right position, and no longer had his healthy appetite. We had Rocky endure another blood scan test, this test specifically for senior-aged dogs. The test results were shocking, and left my family feeling numb. All of Rocky’s levels were abnormally low. His body was not absorbing protein properly, and his white blood cell count was extremely high. All of these factors exemplify that Rocky was fighting off a strong disease – a disease that could not be detected through blood testing. My family being extremely optimistic for our beloved pup lead us to returning him to the veterinary hospital that he had been seeing since we have adopted him. We anticipated for thorough answers and knew we would find them there.
On Thursday, January 30th, my world changed forever. Coming home from work, I was excited to rush home and be reunited with my dog; but this time it wasn’t the same. I went upstairs to find my mom on the phone, and her expression indicated that something was wrong. She tried to hold back and spare me of the news, but I kept pushing her relentlessly. I asked what we can do with Rocky and what our next steps are. She told me that Rocky had a large mass-tumor in his abdomen that was pushing against his liver, and our only option at this point was to put him down. I immediately fell to the ground and tried to regulate my breath, but each gasp for air became harder. I could not stop my body from shaking, the tears streaming down my face as my mind and body went into a complete panic. I kept asking why..why and how did this all happen so fast? Although it was hard for Rocky to get around, he always seemed happy. He would never cry, whimper or give any indication that he was in excruciating pain and suffering. He seemed comfortable and at peace while he would lay and rest in all of his favorite spots in our home.
My mind could not grasp the idea of putting Rocky down. I just thought, “I can’t do this. I can’t put my dog down. I can’t live my life without my dog.” These thoughts circled around my head and clouded over my mind. Our vet had suggested that we put him down sooner than later, but my family respected my wishes to keep him alive with us over the weekend. From Friday to Sunday, I spent every moment with Rocky by his side. No matter how painful it was, I just knew I couldn’t leave him.
Friends have told me that your dog will let you know when he is ready to go. I believe that to be true, and I feel as though Rocky could have gone sooner..but he knew we were too upset. Dogs are very aware of their senses, and they can detect emotion in a way that I’ve never thought possible. I can’t tell you how many times I hugged him while he would lay. His body weak and fragile, as my arms would wrap around him and feel every bone in his body. All I could do was cry, say “I’m sorry,” and that I wish I could take all of his pain away. Rocky and I were awake through the night that Sunday. I saw in his eyes that he could no longer go on like this, and I knew that he was approaching the end of his life.
Snow was falling down heavy Monday morning, as my family and I surrounded Rocky’s favorite couch. Rocky was resting as we all took turns to lay and hold him, our last goodbyes given as we wept. I knew I had to be strong, not only for myself, but for Rocky. Putting him down was the hardest and most painful moment I’ve ever had to endure. However, seeing him extremely weak and watching him suffer was just as painful. Rocky was put to rest in the most peaceful way we could provide. We knew that he deserved that much, and for it to be at his forever home.
I miss Rocky more everyday. I still feel confused, numb, and heartbroken. I know that in time I will heal, but this feeling is too unfamiliar. Our house feels empty..I feel empty. It’s hard to describe these emotions to those who have not experienced the unconditional love and loyalty that a pet can give. There will always be that one pet who will remain irreplaceable, and that will always be Rocky.
I wanted to take a moment to talk about adoption. In my opinion, adopting a pet is the most rewarding thing you can do – not only for that animal, but for yourself. To know that you are giving that animal an escape from a shelter and into a forever home is a genuinely life changing experience. Adopting Rocky was the best decision that my family and me have made. Everyone who knew Rocky told us that we had given him a great life. My response is that Rocky has given us a better life. I can honestly say that since adopting him in 2005, he has made our family grow stronger. We have never before experienced so much love, joy and togetherness. And I know those emotions will linger as his spirit lives on.
Rocky “The White Boxer” 01/01/2004 – 02/03/2014