My first night here, as I chatted with my parents in the living room before we retired for the night, I noticed how quiet the house was. Where was Rocky, the wonderdog? There was no confused barking on my entering the house; no reacquainting myself with the perpetually spooked guardian of their home. I didn't ask where he was; the old dog had been ill and was not expected to be around much longer. Just in the door, I didn't want to bring up a sore subject.

Shortly, as if reading my mind, my parents volunteered that Rocky is no more. He had become so infirm, deaf, blind, constantly miserable and barely able to move about the house, that last week they finally took him to the vet and had him "euthanized." They gave me a detailed account of being present while the vet administered the injection; and how Rocky hung on, not going quickly, but continuing to breathe. The vet had to give another ampoule of the poison before Rocky finally succumbed.

We reminisced about what a great dog Rocky had been. And then my mom chirped in that they have an assignment for me while I am out here; I have to get them new dog. Not that I am really expected to go out and find one, but they want some input. They have an encyclopedia of dogs and are studying the various breeds and their characteristics.


Rocky will not be forgotten.

A couple of years ago my parents reached their fiftieth wedding anniversary. My siblings and I threw a big party for them, inviting old friends and family from all over. We also presented mom and dad with a quilt composed of squares supplied by the same friends and family. The quilt now hangs in the living room. The square I contributed illustrated a peculiarity of Rocky's.

My parents, though not overly demonstrative mark their comings and goings with an embrace or kiss. More than once they displayed to company how whenever they embraced within Rocky's sight, the dog would become agitated, running about them and barking. If they drew apart the barking would cease and Rocky was calm. If they embraced again Rocky would in turn go nuts. Was he anxious at being left out? Was he saluting the affection shown? Who knows? It was an endearing annoyance.

Quilt detail of Rocky barking