FIGHT LIKE ROCKY
Its about time I share the story of Rocky. And today of all days seems quite fitting as it is his first birthday. For those of you that follow Red Rock K9 closely you may remember me making mention of what a big year 2017 was with not only big feats but several challenging hurdles along the way. There were too many to mention in that post nor was it that pressing to elaborate. But Rocky’s beginning was one of those hurdles that were thrown our way at a time we thought we couldn’t handle many more obstacles.
Rocky’s story began in Czech Republic where he was to begin his early training with our good friends and partners. I received weekly updates of his training and could see in each shared video his progression week by week. It was apparent that time and love was being poured into Rocky.
Rocky’s training was complete in the Czech Republic and I began receiving his training videos the day I was to pick him up in Dallas. I spent time studying his training and his handlers motions and moves and was already confident in the puppy I would soon receive. Sure enough Rocky arrived as all of the puppies and dogs do, alert and happy, and eager to take his first steps on American soil.
Rocky’s first two days at Red Rock K9 were full of fun and I experienced a seamless transition into his training. He was confident in every step and loved meeting my kids. We went on walks with the kids and Rocky was loving every second of life.
Then came the third morning. As I let out Rocky for his morning outing things seemed fine up until the point I went to feed him. He began to eat but not with the same Rocky tenacity that I knew. He didn’t quite finish the meal which I thought a bit odd but still nothing was too alarming. But then around 10 AM or so on my next outing with Rocky I noticed he had not held down his meal and soon would not hold down his water. His stools were still fine but my radar was in full alert.
I have to make strong mention before I utter the dreadful word that no dog place wants to hear… I luckily had been teaching training classes and many can vouch for me having a bleach pump sprayer mix handy for any dogs that wait until arriving at our place to do their business. So from the onset of Rocky’s arrival I had already been spraying the areas and disposing of his stools. So having said that it is with great confidence that not only was Rocky never in a “puppy area” he was also virtually quarantined by nature of our procedures upon his arrival.
So by noon that day which happened to inevitably fall on a Sunday I had already made the decision to get answers early on what could be causing his lack of appetite and ability to hold down his water. From the time of making the decision to go to the vet and the car ride to the emergency vet clinic Rocky had seemed to really plummet from his lively self . By the time I was finally seen by the vet I actually had a pretty helpless looking puppy laying on the table next to me as I watched him sleep. I knew by the questions I was being asked where it was heading but really thought because I had not seen a bad stool that it was certainly not “that.” Not “that,” it couldn’t be. If you haven’t guessed it yet, a parvo test was done and in this 15 or so minutes I really wasn’t expecting bad news. But soon it came. It was. And it was said to be a strong positive. The vet mentioned that I had probably got him to the clinic earlier than anyone she had seen in the recent past.
The vet was cautiously optimistic but did say that the percentage of cases caught this early usually did have a positive outcome. I had cared for a dog with this once before but knew I didn’t have it in me at the time and also knew that he was at a top notch facility with 24 hour veterinarians on duty with vet techs constantly caring for him.
Driving away from him was difficult. But we were prayerfully hopeful. I was determined that with the time invested in Rocky I was going to do everything in my power to see to it that he received the best treatment and hopefully pull through. I received an update the next day that Rocky was actually eating a meatball mix from the vet techs hands with a bit of eagerness he had not had before. The vet said it was a great sign but also noted that he was getting so much support that he would feel better but to expect the virus to still run its course.
Moving this story forward a bit Rocky did a bit of a rollercoaster of ups and downs but I was receiving daily updates and with some of the blood cell counts they were able to tell me that he was a puppy without a doubt that would pull through. Rocky was a fighter every step of the way and it was apparent. We visited him several times during his stay, each time suiting up in gear that would be disposed of and double layer of latex gloves and covered shoes. With each visit I could see the fight in his eyes. Some visits were during times that Rocky was at his low points. As I entered the room his eyes would slowly meet mine and he would fight to stand up with wobbly weak legs. I knew then Rocky had the determination to get better. He would prevail.
Why would I be surprised with a dog given that name? Rocky spent about a week in treatment before we got the call that he was more than ready to leave. I will never forget driving with my wife, Linsey, to pick him up and thought I would let her hold him on the way home. But as I positioned myself in the drivers seat ready to pull out of the parking space there was a frail little puppy wagging his tail fighting to make it over the console. We quickly decided I would ride in the passenger seat and hold him for the journey home. I guess you could say we bonded in those first short few days.
I have to also note as it was asked back then and I’m sure some would wonder now…. Rocky was definitely not sick upon arrival. I was not sent a sick puppy. I was sent a healthy puppy that we can only assume was exposed to a sick puppy in the airplane or during the 24 hour period before his departure. In researching more the incubation period can be much faster than I had originally thought. Rocky had only been vaccinated once and we have since changed our procedures a bit before allowing a puppy to fly ensuring that each puppy has had the opportunity to have two rounds of vaccinations at a minimum.
This story wouldn’t be complete without giving due accolades to the awesome owners that were to receive Rocky. I had FULL support in my decisions and they were patient in his recovery of strength at RRK9 before being released to his final destination. I can’t say I would have made any decisions differently but in the back of my mind there was this little boy that had long awaited this dog. It wasn’t just mentioned once or twice; I knew that this little boy had hand picked leashes, collars, toys, beds and was actively reading everything German Shepherd with his parents. So I guess you could say I was invested on a lot of different levels in this puppy.
Turning the clock back. There was a family that was simply taking a routine ski trip at Angel Fire New Mexico Ski resort when this little boy saw another family with a German Shepherd on the slopes. This dog, named Ranger, just happened to be a Red Rock K9 German Shepherd. This little boy had been talking to his mom for months about wanting a dog but they had always owned labradors. But now all of a sudden, this was the only dog he wanted, a German Shepherd…. But not just any German Shepherd. It now needed to be this mysterious Red Rock K9 German Shepherd that the owner of Ranger went on and on about.
This little boys mom thought to herself he would soon forget the meeting on the slopes but oh how she was wrong. So the story of Rocky and Logan started a very long time ago. While Rocky’s journey may have started off with a bump in the road you would never know it looking at him now.
I have to be the first to admit that anytime I hear of an adult future owner speaking heavily of the desires of the child to own and be best friends with the dog I become a little hesitant in wanting to proceed. But this story was different all the way around. It was like the bond that I had achieved with Rocky immediately transferred to his new best friend.
Through this year I have been quite amazed at the bond that Rocky and Logan have developed and the dedication that this family has poured into Rocky. I could not be more proud of this family. Oh, and a very important mention… Remember that Ski resort where the idea for a RRk9 began? Rocky was invited to be the official mascot of the Ski Resorts and team of instructors.
I couldn’t bring myself to write about this until now… But if there was ever a story that paralleled our year it would be his.
I have often thought it is how we handle adversity that defines us. Fall, get up, keep fighting. Fight like Rocky.