Saying “goodbye” is never easy. Most of the time, it’s really just a “see you soon.” However, saying “goodbye,” when you truly know it is the last time, is one of the hardest things in the world to do.
Like many dog owners, I consider my dogs to be members of my immediate family. In addition to my little girl, Ziggy, who I have with me in New York, my parents have my other two toy poodles with them in Florida – Rocky (a handsome, black and grey boy) and Cody (a shy, apricot colored little boy). These two have both been a part of my life for a very long time, but Rocky has always held a special place in my heart. He was given to me as a Bat Mitzvah gift by my uncle (yes, I know, coolest uncle ever!). While he wasn’t the first dog my family ever had (we had a yellow lab, Hammer, at the time), he was MY first dog. When I first brought Rocky home, he made it clear that he hated me. He loved my mom. He loved my sister. But he wanted nothing to do with me! It was clear that we didn’t have that special connection.
All of that changed when I went off to college. I guess when I left, Rocky realized that he really did love me and that he missed me, because on my first trip home he became my best friend. He followed me around the house wherever I went and he finally curled up and slept with me at night. When I left to go back to school, I was told he was actually sad. After that, whenever my parents came to visit me in Colorado they brought him. He may not have showed it from the start, but it was clear that he always loved me and he was always there for me.
When I moved back home, I moved into my own place with my dogs. Rocky was too comfortable living at my parents’ house for me to take him. Besides, Cody would never allow it! Even though he didn’t live with me for all those years, I never, ever, stopped loving Rocky.
This past weekend, I went home to visit my family. What I didn’t know going into it was that it was to be a trip to say that final “goodbye” to one of my oldest friends and to family. Rocky was suffering from late stage liver failure. He was deaf, blind, and could barely walk due to the pain and constant struggle to properly breathe. Nobody wants to see anyone live this way, but the challenge is that nobody wants to say goodbye either. I knew that I had to stop being selfish. I had to stop saying that I wanted him to live no matter what. I had to realize that Rocky, in his own way, was telling us that it was OK, that he had a great life. I left on Sunday night and my family put Rocky to sleep on Monday October 6, 2014 – one day shy of his 15th birthday.
I learned afterwards that Rocky’s Vet, a dear friend of mine (and the best Vet in the world), was controlling his pain and symptoms just so I could have this last weekend with him. For that, I cannot thank him enough.
I will miss him every day. I know it will be hard to go home next time and not see him waiting at the door for me. I will miss the way he used to purr like a cat when he was happy. He loved his humans and his poodle brother. He even managed to tolerate his French Bulldog sister. He was truly the greatest gift a girl could ever ask for. Now, my sweet baby boy is up there, reunited and playing with his other brother, Hammer.
I love you Rocky.