Year first involved with PAWS Chicago
Tell your PAWS Chicago story, focusing on the impact PAWS has made on your life:
Rocky was four months old when we brought him home from PAWS, nine years ago. He was rescued off the streets of Chicago's South Side. He entered a family with two working professionals, an autistic son who had just graduated high school, another son, a high school senior soon to leave for college, and a daughter still in grade school. We were a typical suburban family, but with everyone starting to head off in their own direction.
Rocky changed that. He demanded and received center stage, his energy and constant antics providing us with continuous entertainment. And when we weren't laughing, we talked about, worried over, and planned around Rocky.
Dogs being expert observers of humans, from strategic positions in the living room and elsewhere, Rocky watched us constantly. When we were off to work or school, he intuitively understood he could not follow, but with any other trip, he was the first to the garage door, barking and blocking the way in the hope he could tag along. Whether we brought him or not, it turned out that Rocky was the one who took us on adventures, and gave us life lessons in doing so.
When he insisted on being walked in blizzards and driving rainstorms, we learned that nature's beauty is not only found on nice, sunny days.
When he rolled on his back in the grass on nearly every walk, yowling with glee, and kicking his legs in the air, he told us that happiness is in our own attitudes.
When he voraciously ate his every meal, we understood that food is a gift that should not be wasted.
When the dawn sun shone on and illuminated his red coat on dog park mornings, we realized beauty was right in front of us.
In greeting every visitor to our home with a writhing body and furiously wagging tail, we learned that friendship and affection should not be spared.
Sitting directly in front of the Christmas tree every year as we decorated it, we learned that some tasks should be thoroughly enjoyed, not rushed.
In Yellowstone National Park, Rocky stared down a herd of mule deer, who in turn nearly charged him. To Rocky, no challenge was too big to attempt.
When we rented a houseboat in Lake of the Ozarks, Rocky broke free of my wife's grasp, climbed the ladder to the roof, and jumped off the front of the boat, fifteen feet to the beach below, to join my children trying to tie off the boat. To Rocky, packs and families should never be separated.
Barking into the darkness at the back door of the house each night before retiring, Rocky warned any would-be intruders that he was on duty and had our backs, and that we always had to have each other's.
When, no matter what hour I came home, he was waiting for me at the door, he taught us the importance of loyalty.
Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, was a brilliant fall day. Rocky had been diagnosed with squamous cell cancer of the tonsils three months earlier. He bravely underwent two surgeries and two rounds of chemotherapy in our desperate battle to save him. Throughout that time, Rocky lived much like he always had, proving the importance of character.
The day before, though, he lost his ability to bark, the unrelenting tumor starting to impede his airway. We knew it was time.
Yet on his last day, he summoned the strength to walk with all of us to town, as he did hundreds of times previously. At the hospital later that day, the kids lying on the floor with him, he thumped his tail against the tile, in greeting to the doctor, despite the awful chemicals she carried. His eyes were friendly and unafraid.
Maybe his last lesson was that death was not to be feared.We always told Rocky that he was the "bestest" boy, and to us he was. We will love him forever.
Thank you, PAWS, for letting us have him.