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Rocky's Earthly Journey Has Come To An End | Coping with Loss

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Rocky's Earthly Journey Has Come To An End
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3 September 2017 - 11:59 am
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So I knew I'd be writing this at some point; I just had no idea it would be this soon. 

Just after 4 CDT this morning, Rocky decided he had better things to do than continue fighting stupid cancer, so he took his Wings and went to the Bridge. 

A quick recap those unaware of his story: Osteosarcoma in his right front leg led to it being amputated Feb. 14 of this year. He had five rounds of carboplatin, then the cancer spread down his right side with three tumors. Six weeks of Palladia held them at bay, but last week we discovered the existing tumors had grown and a new one showed up on his left side. So Thursday we started a regimen of Mitoxantrone (every three weeks) and Leukeran (daily). I knew we were running out of time. But I figured we still had months, or at least weeks. Not days. But cancer is dirty. Very dirty. And Rocky's was especially dirty. 

I spent most of the afternoon watching college football with Rocky, as usual, by my side. For dinner, he ate some Fresh Pet followed by grilled chicken tenders and topped off with a Frosty Paw. About 12:30 this morning, with football winding down, I let Rocky out to potty (and maybe hunt some cicadas). He ran to the back door and I thought to myself that he was moving pretty well. 

About 10 minutes after I let him out, I looked out the window to check on him. He was still out in one of his favorite spots, sniffing and searching (and probably hunting cicadas). He seemed to be enjoying himself, so I let him stay out a few more minutes. When I checked on him again to bring him in, he was laying down in the yard near a tree, not something he usually does. I put on my shoes and went out in the yard, thinking maybe he had gotten stuck on something. When I got to him, he just looked at me, but wouldn't budge. I picked him up and carried him inside, but when I put him down, his back legs collapsed. He tried to get up, but to no avail. 

One of the three tumors on his right side is in a muscle near his back leg, so I figured that may be the culprit. I took him to the 24-hour emergency clinic (where he also had his amputation). While there, we realized it was actually his rear left leg he wouldn't put any weight on. We did X-rays and they showed a pathological fracture of his femur. So all the while tumors were popping up and down his side, there was one stealthily forming in another leg. Really, **** this POS disease. 

As we all know, three legs is more than manageable. Two legs? Not so much. There was really only one option. The silver lining is that clinics aren't real busy in the wee hours of the morning, so we had plenty of time together sitting on blankets on the floor of the examination room to say our goodbyes. That's a moment I'll never forget. 

For anyone who thinks cancer won, let me tell you something. Way back in January when all this started, his vet put his right front leg through all the motions as he tried to find the cause of the limping. Rocky never so much as flinched. His vet would later tell me "any other dog would have been screaming in pain with what I did." 

A pathological fracture? Rocky never whined, moaned or cried. He was more concerned with chin rubs, head pats and butt scratches in the examination room. And I made sure he got them. His Daddy may have been a mess, but Rocky took it like the champ he is. 

I'll probably be back with more thoughts later. But I'm going on 28 straight hours without sleep. I'm too exhausted and devastated to sleep at this point, although the crash is coming. I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do without my best buddy. My life feels completely ruined at this point without him. And it still doesn't feel real. 

Thanks to everyone who offered support and encouragement all the way through this journey. I wish it had lasted longer, but I'll always cherish the time we had. I loved him with all my heart, and I'm pretty sure he felt the same. 

Some pics: 

Friday night, when he was ready for bed. 

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I hate selfies, but I made an exception for our final night together. Notice that I'm a mess while the one with a broken leg is doing just fine. Yup, he's tougher than me. 

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And the final pic of him. What pain? I feel fine. 

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David and Rocky

Rocky had his right front leg amputated on Valentine's Day 2017 after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

He joined the September Saints on September 3, 2017.

He is the toughest, bravest, sweetest and best friend I'll ever know. 

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3 September 2017 - 12:26 pm
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Wow David, what an amazing, loving dog who gave you all he had. It's clear you did every thing you possibly could. 

That is a great photo of you and Rocky. With your exhaustion, I'm sure you feel somewhat numb. Please check in with us as many others have lost their cats and dogs to nasty cancer and understand how painful it is.

My condolences. Please know that you will forever have many wonderful memories of Rocky. He's a dear soul.

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

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3 September 2017 - 6:29 pm
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David, those pictures are great. 

I'm so sorry for you!  When you say you're pretty sure Rocky felt for you what you did for him - well, I don't know either of you personally but I AM sure.  Just looking at the selfie and reading about your loving care makes me certain - he loved you too.

I do hope you can get some rest.

Tracey & Tai

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3 September 2017 - 6:51 pm
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Awww David,

I am soooo sorry that you have lost Rocky. But you know what? You gave him a wonderful life and at the end did everything you could for him, and he knew it--of course he loved you with all his heart, no doubt about it! I know you are suffering big time right now. It is just devastating but you WILL get through it eventually. Give yourself all the room you need to grieve, OK? We totally understand around here and please know that we are here for you, ANY TIME. You can come back tomorrow or 2 months or a year from now and we will totally get it! Rocky will be in your heart forever and, one day, you will be able to think of him and smile, instead of cry. I know you must have many awesome memories of your life together, so please try and remember those times as you go through the grief. It really helps. I know none of this means much right now, but just keep in mind that there is light at the end of the tunnel. You will find your own way to honor Rocky and your life together, I just know it. 

Keeping you in my heart tonight David, Run free Rocky!

Martha and the Oaktown Pack

Virginia
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3 September 2017 - 7:25 pm
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Oh David, our dear, dear David.   This just breaks my heart to hear....heartbroken and stunned. Your gutwrencing devastation is understood and is  felt by all of us.

Ion't even know what to say right now so I'm not going to even try. There are no words anyway.

For now, please know that you did EVERYTHING POSSIBLE for your adorable Rocky!!!!   And no dog could be loved any more!!  We know these two things to be truee..and Rocky knows these things to be true!!    Every action you took, every thought in your day was always for Rocky.

NOTHING can ease yiur debilitating grief right niw and for days to come.  Nothing.  I hope though that you can, at some point, find comfort in the way Rocky deciidred to jump out of his earth clothes that no longer served him.  He gave you, and himself, an incredible day and evening  for you to cherish.    And while what you went through those lastrseveral hours had to be an enternal  torture, he made sure you knew he was just fine.   He was going to head to the Bridge on HIS terms!!!  He didn't let that piece of s**t disease .make him linger in unbearable pain;  he didn't let that pice of s**t disease take away his dignity;  he didn't let it take wpaway his Spirit or touch his Soul.   Rocky got to be Rocky until he headed to the Bridge!!   Those pictures shownus all Rocky is still able to be Rocky!!   And he had his best buddy by his side to celebrate his glorious life while surrounded by your eternal.love.

I'll be back.  For now I just wanted to tell you what an honor itnis is  to be on this journey with Rocky and with you.  

Sending you love and light

Sally and My Chunky Spiritual Being Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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3 September 2017 - 7:59 pm
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David I am so sorry to hear that Rocky has passed...he was a true warrior!!!  I love looking at his pictures, such a beautiful dog.......you can see what a brave and gentle soul he was.  You were blessed to have him in your life, and he was blessed to have you. Please take care of yourself and know that he will always be there for you in spirit.  You are the BEST dad a dog could have, and Rocky knew how special to you he was and loved you unconditionally.

Gayle - mom of beautiful greyhound Sessy.  Sessy diagnosed with osteosarcoma on 12/26/16, left back leg amputated on 1/2/17.  Feline siblings Mooshe, Tinkerdude, Odie and Bean

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3 September 2017 - 10:00 pm
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I am so sorry for your loss :"(

Otis - 121 lbs pre amp - 114 lbs post amp and now 118 lb Great Dane - English Mastiff X.  Started limping on 12/24/16.  Diagnosed with Osteosarcoma 12/28/16 - amputation of front left leg on 1/6/17.  Stitches out and 1st round of Chemo on 1/19/17.   2nd round of Carboplatin on 2/10/17 - 3rd round on 3/2/2017.  4th round was scheduled for 3/22/17 - however due to low WBC postponed - 4th Chemo completed on 3/28/17.  Had breathing difficulties, stayed in Tufts ICU overnight.  Due for 2 more rounds of Chemo but we are opting to go with homeopathy with Dr. Loops instead.

The Rainbow Bridge

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4 September 2017 - 12:07 pm
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With tears in my eyes and sadness in my heart, I am so sorry David. You made a tough call during a horrible moment, I cannot imagine how hard that was. {{{hugs}}}

No, cancer did NOT win. Not by a long shot! Rocky was a trooper right up until his last breath, showing the world what is possible even when cancer plays so unfairly. Thanks to you, he had a beautiful life that all dogs dream of. Now he is hunting those cicadas in heaven somewhere, joyful and pain-free on all four legs, with not a spec of cancer. He is a puppy again, and some day, you will be reunited with your best friend.

We are here for you now and always. And if you want to share more of Rocky's life with you, we would love nothing better. Lean on us, we totally understand your grief. 

With much love & condolences, 

Rene, Jim, Wyatt Ray & Spirit Jerry

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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5 September 2017 - 9:38 am
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David I am saddened to hear of Rocky going to the rainbow bridge.  My heart breaks for you.  Rocky was truly blessed to have you for his dad.  LOVE his sweet pictures and his adorable cocker face!  I can see his love for you in your picture together.  These fur babies teach us so much in the time that we have them and their memories live on in our hearts.  Prayers for you during this time !

Heather and Toddy

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5 September 2017 - 4:06 pm
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Thank you all for the kind words and condolences. I'm going to try at some point to come back and post a fitting tribute to Rocky, maybe even a blog since I have yet to actually blog here. But right now I'm still trying to process everything. I tried to brace for it the best I could, but you're never really prepared for this. I wish I could be as stoic as Rocky, but tears have flowed the last few days. 

I went to make the rounds today. His vet was out sick but I talked to his groomer for about two hours. She told me how he'd watch me all the way out to the car when I dropped him off to be groomed. And she'd ask the people at the front desk "have you ever seen somebody look at their daddy the way Rocky looks at his?" 

I've heard the words "sweet" and "sweetest" so many times the last few days from people describing Rocky. And it really is apt. He's the sweetest, toughest and best dog I'll ever know. I was absolutely spoiled by him. 

I made arrangements to have him cremated. I initially wanted to see his body one last time to ensure it was really him, but ultimately decided to let Sunday morning be the final memory. His ashes will be ready tomorrow and I got an keepsake urn with a compartment for his collar and other belongings. It will sit on my nightstand the rest of my life. 

My heart is absolutely shattered right now, but if this pain is the price I have to pay to have had him in my life, I'll gladly pay it. 

The next few days are going to be terrible as I try to assimilate back into a daily routine that now no longer includes Rocky. My dad came over to check on me the other night, and it was really weird hearing the doorbell ring without the sound of Rocky's tags jingling as he raced to the door to see who it was. 

David and Rocky

Rocky had his right front leg amputated on Valentine's Day 2017 after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

He joined the September Saints on September 3, 2017.

He is the toughest, bravest, sweetest and best friend I'll ever know. 

Here and Now

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5 September 2017 - 4:33 pm
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Rocky's dad said
I'm going to try at some point to come back and post a fitting tribute to Rocky...

Don't rush it...everyone here feels your pain.

When it feels right, there are various ways to pay tribute, including a memorial post on the Tripawds Honor Roll.

FYI: Rocky's blog may deleted in the next round of database cleanup (coming soon) if you do not publish at least one post. See your default first post for more information.

Virginia
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5 September 2017 - 5:12 pm
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Oh David, just like two days ago, and my tears are flowing yet again and I am still at a loss for words.

I'm just really glad you came back today though. I know when my Happy Hannah transitioned, I found "comfort" hearing from those who really, really, really understood every aspect of this journey from beginning, to the middle, to the "transition". " Comfort" from those who understood first hand the unbearable, debilitating grief that guts us and takes us to our knees....day after day sfter day.

I was able to smile through the tears as I found out all the different ways my Happy Hannah touched people here. And I hope you can find a moment to smile as you hear over and over what a SWEET, SWEET Soul the adorable Rocky is. Smile as we tell you how he lit up our world with every single picture you posted.

And I mean this David, Rocky literally made me smile with every single photo!  His eyes glistened with joy...tru joy..when he had his green tennis ball next to him!  Rockynhad the happiest smile on his face as he looked at the camera with each photo you took!   And you always forgot the CUTENESS ALERT, but we knew what we were in for anyway.....CUTENESS OVERLOAD!!

And, of course,  we now know that, next to his green tennis balla, Cicadas were his next favorite toy.

David, Rock had your name stamped in his Soul the daynhe was born.  You weren't a "foster fail"...you were ALWAYS meant to be his Dad! 🙂

Yes, you felt privileged to have Roxky by your side.   And make no mistake about it, Rocky felt just as privileged to have you bynhisnside!!  And all of us here, feel so privileged and honored to know you both!

Rocky will NEVER be forgotten here!!   And as sad as we all are right now, we kniw that whenever we thinkmof him and the loviw ETERNAL bond you two share, we will always hsve a smile in our heart.

Stay connected as you can David.  You are not alone during this rough, rough time. When the time is right, you will find the right words to honornyiur SWWET boy.....but please k ow that you already have.

Rocky WILL send you a sign that he is still with you...PROMISE!!!  Pay attention...don't dismiss it when it happens...it will he Rocky letti gnyou know he is still with you.   It may take awhile though.  Rumor has it everyone greeted him at the Bridge with loads of ice cream, green tennis balls and chocolate covered Cicadas.

With love

Sally and My Chunky Spiritual Being Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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6 September 2017 - 8:00 am
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Oh David tears flowing here as I read about Rocky with the soulful eyes!  I fell in love with your Rocky with his very first picture.  How could you not?  I cheered through his amp, worried about his lumps and cheered yet again as the Palladia seemed to be working to hold them at bay.  Holding you in my heart at this hardest part of this journey and sending you huge hugs and healing light.  Your boy had the best life with you as you two had that soul to soul love you shared.  Fly free Mighty Warrior you have earned those Angel wings!  I will remember your boy always!

Linda & Spirit Mighty Max

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7 September 2017 - 1:21 pm
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It's slowly starting to sink in that he's really gone. I picked up his ashes yesterday. I kept thinking "I have to pick up Rocky today" and subconsciously I think I thought I'd get to the funeral home and he'd just be there waiting to jump in the car and go home like normal. Coming home from work for the first time without him was hard as well. 

I still haven't really felt his presence yet, but I know that will come. Sometimes it takes time. 

When I got home with his ashes yesterday, there was a cat sitting at my front door. She was facing the door with her back to the outside, like she was waiting to see if Rocky could come out and play. I think I've seen this cat before in my back yard, but I've never seen one just sit at my front door like that. When he was younger, Rocky was absolutely obsessed with cats. It was kind of strange seeing her there. 

I've started writing my tribute blog in my head. I just have to put the words down tomorrow. 

Thanks again for all the support. I'll be back with more thoughts later. 

David and Rocky

Rocky had his right front leg amputated on Valentine's Day 2017 after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

He joined the September Saints on September 3, 2017.

He is the toughest, bravest, sweetest and best friend I'll ever know. 

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7 September 2017 - 6:46 pm
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You can't make this up. 

When I got home from work tonight, I took Rocky's collar and went for a walk. It's not the first time I've done that this week. It seems to help going through all the places in the neighborhood that were just too far for him to go after his amputation. It brings back memories of better days. Sad, but nice as well. 

While I was out, I noticed posters in the neighborhood for a dog that went missing this morning. I had been walking for a while when I saw a little black dog that looked like the one on the poster out in a side yard. It ran from me, but the back yard was fenced so it was trapped. I went and grabbed one of the posters then went and rang the doorbell of the house to see if maybe it was their dog. Nobody answered. So I went back to the side yard. The dog (named Carrie) was obviously scared and growled when I got close, but I could tell it was the same one from the poster. I called the number and waited to make sure Carrie didn't run away again. The owners had been driving around various neighborhoods looking for her and weren't too far away. They met me in front of the house and were reunited with Carrie. She went from growling to wiggling and wagging her tail like crazy. 

Nothing is going to take away the pain of losing Rocky, but it sure feels good to be able to help somebody be reunited with their dog. 

David and Rocky

Rocky had his right front leg amputated on Valentine's Day 2017 after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

He joined the September Saints on September 3, 2017.

He is the toughest, bravest, sweetest and best friend I'll ever know. 

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