Rocky in Sarasota in 2011

Rocky at Mushroom Rock in 2014

If everything goes according to plan, Rocky’s last sunrise will come in an hour or two. We have an appointment with the veterinarian at 10:30 to give him a small injection of some painlessly fatal thing, and then we’ll take him back here and bury him in his back yard.

We have a nice grave for him. I’ve been working on it for a couple days.

It’s very strange to choose the day that a loved one will die. Rocky has gone swimming for the last time, barked at his last mailman, chased his last stick. He may get to chew on a tennis ball ball once or twice more, he may get to sing one or two more songs. But that’s all.

Time is short.

Rocky’s fourteen years old and he’s ready to leave. He’s been ailing for a while or two, and the last six months have been awful. In his heart he is still the puppy powerhouse that he always has been, but his heart has lost contact with his body, and he just can’t do it any more. The only reason we’ve kept him alive this long is because we love him with all our hearts and we can’t let him go.

It’s been miracle after miracle, reprieve after reprieve, for months, and they’ve run out. You can’t torture a dog just because you love him. The poor guy can’t even stand up any more. He sees the puppies playing and he wants to play too, but he can’t. He hurts and hurts and hurts, and he lies there on his bed and he can’t sit still and he can’t get up. He’s bored.

He’s whining right now. It hurts to hear.

He knows what’s happening. He was afraid at first, but now he’s just tired and he’s ready to go.

I wish I could tell you everything this dog has meant to me. I’m not exaggerating when I say Rocky is why I am here with this wife and this child. This is his family. He made it. We all made it, him as much as anyone. We are his family.

Rocky kept Gewel alive through her darkest days in the hope that someday it would all work out, and it did.

He chose me to join her and I did. He brought us together and he kept us together. You may say a dog can’t do that. I say a dog can, if you let them.

I only really knew Rocky in his old age. I meet him briefly at the end of his puppyhood, and when he came down to Texas in 2011 and had to get the stomach surgery, that was when he became an old man. What a great old man. He’s been here with me for more than a quarter of his life. He’s guided me, comforted me, conspired with me, sang to me, stole my food when I wasn’t looking.

I’m glad he stayed this long. This was the last favor that I asked. I wanted him to stay long enough for Amelia to remember him forever. Somewhere in the back of her memory there is a big floppy dog who loves her and howls along when she plays the harmonica. Amelia gives him big hugs when she sees that he’s hurting. She calls him “Rosdee.”

amelia and rocky december 2014

We paid three thousand dollars to keep him alive in 2011 and we’d do it again today, but there’s no cure for this. He can’t stay. He would if he could. He loves us as much as any dog ever loved his people, all throughout history to today. There have always been good dogs. This was one of the best.

It’s very hard to kill your friend. Part of me is still crying no, no, we can put it off another day, he can stay just one more day. Rocky can tell that I’m upset and he’s using this opportunity to cadge me for treats. Good on ya, buddy. Wish we could forever.

He’s asleep. I love to look down beside me and see him sleeping. I love this dog. You did an excellent job, old man. Thank you. It was an honor.


UPDATE: Rocky Kafka passed away, painlessly, at 11 a.m. We miss him. <3