I wish that this week's Funny Guy Friday had a happier theme... and a happier ending... but sadly, it does not.
About a year and a half ago, my nephew and his wife brought us a sixty-pound black lab that they had found wandering around outside of a movie theater. The thing was kind of a mess with only a third of a tail, damaged paws, terrible stomach issues that kept it from gaining weight and he stunk to high heaven. Think of a stinky barn and then add a wet stinky dog and you get close to his stench.
We were reluctant to take him in, but there were no better options. Our concerns were that most dogs shed, stink, bark, get into the trash, eat stuff off the table, and generally require all kinds of attention.
Not to mention what they do to your rugs.
Despite our concerns, we agreed to adopt Rocky.
The first thing we did was take him to the vets to see about that stomach issue and to see what they might be able to tell us about his past. Scratch that... the first thing we did was take him to get a bath. You know it is bad when the groomers think he stinks worse than other dogs. After his bath, we then took him to the vet.
The vet could not really tell us much about him, but she guessed that he was two or three years old, that his tail got damaged as a result of an accident, and the groomers thought that maybe he had had frostbite on his paws. We gave Rocky some medicine to treat the parasite in his tummy and our sixty-pound lab quickly became our eighty-pound lab.
Not knowing his history was kind of scary. I always said he probably had some unknown "kill command" that one of the kids might unknowingly utter and next thing you know, we were going to find Cheryl dead in the kitchen with a bone in her hand.
But it was also kind of cool to try and guess about his past. Cheryl enjoyed this game most of all. She came up with some great scenarios. For instance: maybe he was a hunting dog. Problem was that Rocky never met a squirrel that he did not want to chase. Kind of hard to believe that he would have been all stealthy out in the woods as a hunting dog where, last I checked, squirrels are plentiful.
Or maybe he used to be a fire rescue dog because he cocked his head funny whenever he heard a siren... just like a dog raised in a fire house... AND EVERY OTHER DOG ALIVE! I reminded her.
Or possibly a highly-trained guard dog. Unfortunately, as long as you did not ring the doorbell, you could walk into our house with complete immunity. Anyone could just walk into our house and steal us blind so long as they did not ring that door bell. I would not have been surprised if Rocky showed the robbers where we keep our good china.
My guess was that Rocky was a farm dog. Mainly because he smelled like a barn floor!
Rocky was a goof. A good-natured, strong, fast, sweet, goofy dog that quickly became part of the family. Oftentimes a little too much a part of the family. Like when he would help himself to our dinners... at least two roasted chickens, steaks that I had prepared for grilling, the apple pie that we were going to have for dessert and the countless loaves of bread that he either ate... or hid in the couch for a late night snack.
After the steak incident, I banned him from the kitchen giving orders to shoot on sight if he ever creeped over a certain line of tiles in the kitchen. I declared that he was not welcome back in the kitchen until he paid me back for the costs of the steaks. Later that week, while I was lying on the couch, he came up to me with a twenty dollar bill stuffed in his collar and a note asking if he could come back in the kitchen. His handwriting looked eerily similar to Noah's.
Although Rocky was loved by all, he often tested my patience.They say that you should not correct a dog unless you catch him in the act of committing a crime. To that I say, Nonsense! Rocky knew... he always knew... when he did wrong. If he got into the trash, I knew it before I ever got down the steps. It only got worse when I asked... What did you do? Of course, had I not noticed his guilty behavior, the bread crumbs surrounding his snout was always a dead giveaway.
Oh, he knew alright.
Whenever he ran off, he would always give us a good run for our money but would ultimately give himself up as soon as he saw us pull up near him. He would compliantly hop into the back of our vehicle. He could have easily taken off again, but he never did. It was as if he was embarrassed that he was caught and, like Cool Hand Luke, was just biding his time until the next escape.
Rocky was not the first dog that we had ever owned. I had a dog when Cheryl and I first got married and he (Justice) was the best-behaved dog ever. He never did anything wrong. He stayed when I said stay... he came when I said come... he never got into the trash... and he never ate anything but dog food. I think the kids got tired of my comparisons. As time passed and we worked a bit with Rocky, he got better but the contrast between the two dogs was still pretty remarkable.
I loved both of those dogs and when it comes right down to it... although Rockhead was not as well behaved as Justice, he was just as sweet and faithful. We loved him despite the fact that he did shed, stink, bark, eat stuff off of the table, get into the trash and generally required all kinds of attention.
As time passed, we figured him out as much as he figured us out. He knew the toughest owners were Matthew and me, while Grace, Noah and Cheryl were always good for a nice dog treat. It would drive me crazy when Cheryl would give him treats right after I would reprimand him for doing something wrong. Come to think of it, she does that with the kids also!
He's a good boy! was always her reply.
If you have not already figured it out, Rocky passed away this past week. He had surgery to remove a blockage in his intestines and for whatever reason, did not recover from that surgery.
As I read this, it seems as if I am writing some type of eulogy and that is not what I intended. I just wanted to express how we are feeling this week in the Palumbo house. In a way, writing this is a bit cathartic for me.
I have never been one to equate a dog with a child... and I mean no offense to anyone by making that statement. I mean, if Matthew ever bit Noah, I would not consider getting rid of Matthew. The same cannot be said of any four legged member of our family.
Several years ago, when a new neighbor moved into our neighborhood and found out that we had to put Justice down because of an aggressive cancer, he put his arm around me and did his best to console me, saying that it is like losing a child. I told him that I have two children (Noah was not yet born) and losing a dog is not quite like that.
This, of course, does not mean that I won't miss Rocky. He was such a sweet guy. I mean he wagged his little nub of a tail every time he saw me. Think about that. Who else in your life does that? I know Cheryl stopped doing that years ago.
It also does not mean that I did not cry when Rocky passed away. I cried because despite the fact that he was a big pain in the rear, he was our pain in the rear. And although he was not a child of ours, he was still a big part of our family. I regret all the times that I yelled at him... except one. I think you can guess... those New York strips had been marinating in our special seasoning and honey for several hours before he gobbled them up. Admittedly, I may have been a bit harsh with the orders to shoot on sight.
Noah asked if we will ever get another dog. My first instinct was to say no, remembering all the bad stuff. But those things bring back the best memories of the Rockstar. His personality was the thing that we loved most about him. It was the thing that made him unlike any other dog.
I imagine that in the future, we may get another dog and we will invest all of the time, cost, effort and the emotions that go into that.
Unfortunately, right now, we are dealing with those emotions that go with losing a pretty sweet dog.
|Favorite place to rest...|
|Are these milk bones all for me?|