Agnes and I are on the same page. That handsome fellow left us yesterday. His name is Little Rock. Rocky for short. Roo for shorter.
My husband and I picked up Rocky, our first service dog in-training, on our honeymoon. What a terrific way to start a marriage.
Rocky was a wheelchair assistance dog for a man who was injured in a drunk-driving accident. Rocky helped him in so many ways, but he really shined as social coordinator and official greeter.
The best "first:" Rocky was the first service dog we'd raised. He was the first dog I'd raised from a pup. He was the first dog my husband ever lived with. He was the first service dog granted access to my then-workplace, National Institute of Standards and Technology. The first Labrador I'd taken a shine to. And now, sadly, also the first tribute to a service dog… Rocky didn't know it, but he carried a heavy burden. If he'd not been the perfect dog, a lot of "firsts" could have, would have, been "lasts," too.
Mr. Sunshine: There wasn't a happier dog. He wasn't annoying with his happiness, like some dogs can be, just happy to wake up every morning, happy for everyone who glanced his way, or gave him a pat on his gigantic head. He thumped his tail long as soon as you thought about petting him, I'm not sure how he could read minds like that.
Young at heart: He was just a week shy of his tenth birthday – too young to die. He'd been getting grayer over the years. He started to slow. A little. But every time he'd come to stay with us while his family traveled, he became puppy-like again. He'd romp and run with Lily, his very best dog-friend in the world. We were afraid, actually, that he'd hurt himself while romping with our dogs, not being used to so much activity.
I don't posess the flair for words that Rocky deserves. It's very tough losing a dog of such high caliber, a dog who brought so much good to so many people. We feel exceptionally fortunate that Rocky's family let Rocky stay in our lives. We are grateful to have been his second family and been able to keep him while they traveled, that they let Rocky "vacation" at our house. Run free, Roo, run free. We'll meet again…