It was a good life. Rocko and I had 17 1/2 years together. Eventually his old body wore out. It was time to set him free. This is the story of our last days together.
This sums up my day today, I do not know why Rocko will not take his medicine any more. He can hold it for 10 minutes and still spit it out lol.
Rocko was sending me a message. He absolutely refused to take his medicine, the same medicine he has been taking for years. I passed it off as being stubborn for a couple days, then it was time to start listening to what he had to say.
My baby is just unhappy . . . I’ve scheduled a reading for Tuesday morning with Patty Summers, the animal communicator we used back in the fall to see what he’s trying to tell me and to see if she can talk him into hanging in there for a couple more weeks to give the stem cell treatments time to work. If he says no I have to accept that. I hate to see him so miserable.
Rocko was amazing. At 18 years old he was still going strong. But then he got sick with tummy troubles and he was laid up for a week. At his age, you just don’t bounce back as easily as when you were young. He lost a lot of muscle tone and with it, the ability to get up on his on when he needed to, especially to go to the bathroom.
It’s the little things that creep up on you. I’m looking through the computer and find a picture of him three months ago standing on the back porch and I realize how drastic his decline has become. There is the moment I realize that we’ve gone from having an occasional accident on the way to the door to washing his bed every day.
Not getting around wasn’t a big deal. I was happy to help him everywhere and for a little while he was good with it. When it started to bother him I realized it was time.
This is a difficult post to write but it is time. While I was gone today Rocko had an accident in his bed and tried to get up. He slipped off the side and got stuck on the floor. By the time I got home it took 30 minutes of holding him on my lap and rocking him before his heart stopped pounding and he stopped crying. His front legs were stiff from trying to get up. This is not the life I want for him.
After the market tomorrow I’ve cleared everything to stay home with him until Tuesday. He can have all the McDonald’s hamburgers he wants (as you can see that still brings a smile to his face) and triple strength chicken broth to drink. He is getting Benadryl to keep him calm and let him get some rest. Mema and my son will come over, his kitties will be here, we will surround him with the love he has given us for all these years. I am sad and shedding tears but know that it is time to let that old worn out body go.
I had gotten to the point where I worried about Rocko every time I left the house. Most days I would come home and he would be sleeping peacefully right where I left him. The days he wasn’t were very traumatic for both of us.
During the past couple of weeks Rocko had also started waking me up during the night. When he could get around by himself he would get up during the night and go to the bathroom on his puppy pads. It progressed from him having to wake me up to help him up to him waking me because he’d had an accident. We’d go three or four nights of very little sleep, I’d get up to help him then I’d lay in bed and worry and get even less sleep. Every night that he slept through the night was precious.
A couple weeks ago I had a dream. It was so vivid that I got out of bed to check and see if Rocko had passed away. I would be devastated at the thought of losing him if it wasn’t for the beautiful message he sent me. I’ve got to let the physical body go but his spirit will stay with me.
I think he was trying to tell me then that he was ready to let go but I didn’t listen. Then he decided he wouldn’t take his medicine to get the point across.
The message was so powerful it inspired me to share it with others facing or dealing with the loss of a beloved pet.
March 31, 10 am
Rocko resting in the sunshine, I put up a card made for him by a special young lady named Emma. That was such a nice thing to do. It meant a lot.
Social media, I wonder if they ever imagined how it would change our lives. Rocko’s fans have been posting messages of love and support, they bring me a lot of comfort. There are so many people out there who love him too and I know he’ll go surrounded with love.
March 31, 4 pm
Rocko can have whatever he wants to eat – chicken, a whole can of food, he even had a few bites of Easter ham, half of Garey’s Farm pretzel croissant and some MrG’s caramel kettle corn. All the treats he wants.
In the past few months I had really limited Rocko’s diet because of all the stomach troubles he was having. It was time to live it up.
March 31, 7 pm
Rocko’s feat of medicine avoidance today was to spit out 1 1/2 empty benadryl capsules. He is very talented 🙂
Rocko was on all kinds of medicine and nutritional supplements. I added Benadryl at the end to keep him comfortable and let him get some rest. As I gave in on the medicine wars, I narrowed it down to only the things he had to have to ease his pain. There were a couple times I could talk him into taking it without a battle but more times where he would spit it out and I’d have to try to get it back in. He could get every bit of peanut butter off four tiny pills and hand them right back to me. He could tell when the pills were hidden in beef, chicken, mashed potatoes, garlic bread, anything.
March 31, 11 pm
I can see how so many people agonize over this decision. Sometimes it seems like there is some glimmer of improvement, but you realize that although your heart wants to think there will be a miracle, your brain knows it isn’t going to happen. You can’t turn back the clock and make them young again. You can just love them for the time you have left.
Although I am at peace with my decision there’s a part of me that keeps questioning if I am doing the right thing. Rocko is trying to get up to go to the bathroom, maybe if I give him a little more time he’ll bounce back. But when he does get up he can’t walk more than a couple steps while I’m holding him, it is too far of a stretch to think that he will go back to wandering around the house and yard at his own will. I have to see what is right in front of me, not what my heart wants to see.
I go back through all the things I’ve done and tried, what if I hadn’t waited so long for the stem cell injections, did I feed him something wrong that made him sick a couple months ago, did I miss something, is there something simple that I could fix? He is 18 years old but until the last couple months he was so happy and healthy – it was easy to fool myself into believing he would be with me forever. I always said I wanted five more years, and then I’d ask for another five.
April 1, noon
I was cleaning the front window yesterday in hopes that we can get some final pictures tomorrow of Rocko and me. I only have a few now. I realized that the porch looked very bleak, there should be something green growing in the flower pots so Rocko has something beautiful to look at. Tried to get some hostas so I could replant them in a special garden but it turns out you can’t get grown hostas this time of year. My son saved the day with some hydrangeas. They’ll brighten up the view and be beautiful growing in the back yard – they’ll remind me of him.
April 1, 4 pm
Rocko has had a nice long grooming and rub down with talcum powder. His fur is so soft you can lay your cheek on it forever. The sun was shining on him. Today was for making my last memories. Got a rib-eye thawing out for a very special dinner tonight.
He is so soft. There’s nothing like it. He has always laid on one side so the other side tends to be groomed more. He’s got long fur with a short undercoat so I can’t just run a brush through it, I have to lift up each layer and comb, inch my inch. There are times he doesn’t like to be brushed but now it is a relaxing way for us to spend time together.
April 1, 7 pm
Rocko’s steak dinner. I have tried hiding his medicine in everything under the sun over the past week. He was a little suspicious but I reassured him that I wasn’t up to anything. We shared a good laugh and he gave me a big smile over me telling him I swear, there is nothing on that plate except steak. I promise! Just steak!
This was a last glimpse of the old spirit of Rocko. I swear he laughed at me when I was trying to convince him it was only steak.
April 2, 8 am
Rocko seems to be resting peacefully but in the middle of the night when he has an accident and cries because he can’t get up, there’s no question that this is the right thing for him. I don’t care about the accident but the crying breaks my heart. I keep thinking positive thoughts about him being as light as air and not held back any more so he knows he’s almost there.
When Rocko was sick back in November, he got up one night, couldn’t get back into the room and let out a howl. I jumped out of bed and told him “see, that’s what you do. Every time you need me you call me like that and I will come.”
He listened. That howl became his call when he needed help and sometimes when he just wanted me back in the room with him. Although it was his way of calling me, it sounded like he was in horrible pain. He didn’t see it that way and I had to keep reminding myself that it was only a call. That was the deal, I couldn’t change it now.
The last couple of nights they were real cries. Cries of frustration at being trapped inside an old worn out body. Cries to let me know that he needed me to help him with this. For the last two nights I barely slept at all between getting up to help and waiting for the next cry. I was worn out but I didn’t want to take a nap during the day, I didn’t want to miss any of our final time together.
April 2, 10 am
Rocko does not want any medicine today. He finally won that battle. We had our session with Patty Summers of PS Animal Commumications. Rocko said it’s about time, he wouldn’t have stayed this long if it wasn’t for me. I thought maybe he’d want to go outside one more time but he’s good. He said there will not be a hole in my heart because he will still be right here with me to fill it.
Not taking his medicine was Rocko’s final stand. To him, why bother? It was time. As the day wore on I saw the effects, the light was going out of his eyes and he was mentally separating.
When Patty asked Rocko if there was anything else he wanted, he said “what more could I want? Look at the life I’ve had.”
He said I shouldn’t be sad, he will always be with me.
He did like the idea of having a legacy. All the world should know how great Rocko was.
April 2, 1 pm
It is time to put away all the things for sick Rocko and prepare to set him free. I thank everyone for their prayers and wishes, they will surround us. He will be running and playing soon, finally.
Things were set up to take care of Rocko. The step next to the couch that he used to use to jump up had now become the sick table. Water, chicken broth, towels, waterless shampoo, puppy pads. I wanted the house to look like it used to, peaceful and neat. I don’t have a problem parting with those things, they weren’t who Rocko was. I find the urge to get rid of them is overwhelming, I gather it all up and put it away, in boxes, in a corner.
April 2, 2 pm
Rocko is checking out a treat from Dr Edwina LeMay of A Friend’s Farewell. I won’t ever regret keeping Rocko at home for his final moments. In our reading this morning Rocko said he was happy I was doing this for him because it meant that I could accept it, he didn’t have to worry about me. He also had another request – he was glad everyone was coming over and he wanted to see them before he went, but he didn’t want an audience. When the time came he just wanted it to be the two of us with the vet. It was a matter of dignity. He has always had a royal soul.
I met Dr LeMay a few years ago and always held on to her card. I knew one day I would need it. I held him close to me and talked to him about what a great life we had and how much I looked forward to his spirit being with me. I told him that now he could come to the farmers market with me and meet all the other dogs. I kept picturing him running and playing gimme that stick, our favorite game. I was ready, he was ready.
April 2, 4 pm
The end was so incredibly peaceful. Rocko has never been a lap dog so I sat down close to him, held his head in one hand while gently stroking his fur with the other. Once we were comfortable he got a shot of a strong sedative. I could feel his whole body relaxing and his head was leaning on my leg, snuggling into my hand. As he went deeper and deeper into sleep he seemed to melt up against me and I will cherish the memory of his peaceful warm softness. Finally it was time, a small iv and just a minute later he was free. Moments later there was an exhale, a reflex action after the body lets go, but it sure sounded like a sigh of relief to me.
April 2, 4:00 pm
April 2, 7 pm
* Sigh *
The house is empty and quiet. I find myself wandering aimlessly, the routines of getting up in the morning, coming home, going to bed, they’ve all changed. I look over to Rocko’s spot a thousand times. I start to talk to him, to tell him I’m going to start a load of laundry or run to the car and I stop short.
Rocko said “don’t be one of those people, the ones who say they’ll never have another dog.” He said I should give it some time and then he’ll help me find another dog to fill my life.
He said I should love again. I can’t imagine I will ever find the great love that Rocko and I had, he was my heart dog, but I can see why he wanted this for me. For now, I have to get used to a different home and a different life. I miss him every minute.
Run free Rocko. It was a good life. Your legacy will live on.
1994 – 2013