Introducing Rocky - the RottieI found Rocky the Rottweiler in the local dog rescue centre. He was laying there all morose. As I passed by the gate to the cage he looked up at me with big brown eyes and said: “ take me home“. So I did.
He has had a bad health history with several major ailments and currently the worry is about a ruptured cruciate ligament, He has already had the left one repaired. Now the right hind joint has failed as well. A heavy dog like him has to be able to walk without assistance. He can just about manage on three legs but he won’t last for long until he gets back his full quota.
My wife and I live out in the country on the edge of a village. Our house adjoins the fields of the farm where we keep our riding horse. We have been keeping dogs now for 35 years. Rocky is the third Rottweiler but we have also kept other breeds including an old fashioned Staffie, a Bull Mastiff, a Labrador & various terriers: one of which sits at my feet as I write this note. If I could have only one dog, it would be a terrier for you can always pick them up and carry them under your arm. Rotties present a serious challenge but I simply could not have left young Rocky in that rescue pen. In latter years the dogs we home seem to find us. We don’t buy dogs any more.
A police dog trainer helped me initially with Rocky who had been rescued at the age of 9 months for reasons not passed on to us. When I arrived on the scene it was taking three kennel maids to walk him on a lead. The key to controlling him was eventually found to be a series of restrictions, first the utility room, then the garden, then a courtyard, then a large dog cage. Ultimately a cage behind a closed gate. When I found him one day, with his nose protruding under a 6 ft high wooden gate leading into the courtyard, I knew I had finally found the key to him. We went together to the dog training sessions and the big chore was to socialise him with other dogs. Luckily Rocky is a big softee. Eventually he even did the obstacle courses. However the police trainer wanted him to be kept on a lead at all times and to be instantly obedient, as would be expected of the Police Alsatians. After much discussion I declined go down this road and we stopped going to the classes. Rocky must be sociable, on or off the lead, to all humans at all times. Rocky has been trained to a certain extent by our Heinzie 57 terrier. She lives by my feet. Where ever I am, she is to be found within a short distance. She is a very strong minded little dog. If Rocky puts even a foot out of line, then she will bark and tell him off. From time to time he’ll object but he has never harmed her. The confrontation can get noisy however. Jenna is never restrained by me unless she is in danger. She is one of those little dogs which knows what the Master (that’s me) is thinking.
Rocky however is handled on similar lines to those we employ with the horse. Both are hefty quadrupeds. Neither can read, nor write, nor communicate with words. With the horse, communication is the big problem as is the need to alleviate the horse’s innate fears - especially of humans. Routine is the key. Security of food supply, is at the top of her needs as is safe shelter. Consistency in all things is extremely important. There is a need for chastisement from time to time but it must be administered with care. No aggressive movements can be employed - the tone of voice should be enough. It is very much the same scenario with Rocky. He is a big strong dog with a mind of his own. He has a sensitive nature. The final objective is always to get him to want to do what he believes the human is intending to do. It all takes time. Dogs must come to trust their owners. Rocky has little control over his adrenaline surges so we try to keep Rocky away from scenarios where he will become super hyped. A problem is that he loves the car, which he protects with all of his ferocious image. If a motor cyclist comes anywhere near the car when overtaking then Rocky somehow seems to boost the bike’s engine power by fifty percent.
In the final analysis, in this modern world, it may come about that I, as the human, have to make for my canine or equine companion the big and final choice. This is where folks like me face the awful conundrum. We know we must interpret the feelings of the animal to the vet whenever it is ill or in pain. Invariably we have already come ourselves to feel its pain. Similarly sometimes, like now, we know we must restrict the animal for its own good in order to circumvent further damage. But on those sad occasions when we have to make the final decision, we know we are going to miss the animal’s presence indefinitely. The dog is not going to know what is happening. We know only too well what goes on, from bitter previous experience. It doesn’t get easier with practice. If Rocky can not walk unaided, because of the failure of his cruciate ligament, then he could not do his ablutions. His right hind leg must repair, otherwise his future would look grim. Luckily, with the help of an expensive consultant vet, he appears to be winning his current battle.
In fact, success lies within Rocky’s will to get well. We can only take him back and forth to the surgery, hold his paw and pay the ‘ginormous’ bills. Rockie doesn’t use hair shampoo but he keeps muttering : ‘I am worth it” . There is no doubt that he is - to us anyway.
As it has turned out his time had not yet come. There remains the final inspection of the knee joint but Xrays do not hurt so that hopefully is just a formality. He is walking about, he is doing his Ps & Poohs and he is frightening the daylights out of passing motorcyclists.
Rotties as a breed can on occasions dish it out - but they can also take it.