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Farewell, Sweet Friend



Sorry for the radio silence this week! I felt like I needed a couple personal days before returning. I promise this will be my last Rocky post. Next week I’ll be back with more of the regular financial/work/life posts. So indulge me in just this last one.

The short story is that we said farewell to our sweet furry friend on Wednesday.

It still kind of blows my mind how quickly things went downhill.

Last Monday we were at the vet for a routine check-up. We literally had NO CLUE anything was wrong with our fur-baby. He had recently stopped jumping up on our bed, but I thought it was due to arthritis. He’s a large dog and 11 years old, so it didn’t alarm me that he was showing potential signs of joint problems. Plus, they were real recent. I thought it was no big deal.

Then last Wednesday we got official word that it WAS, in fact, a big deal. Rocky wouldn’t be around for much longer.

By Thursday morning it was like a flip had been switched and Rocky was SICK. I mean, he was really ill. We were told he might make it 3-6 weeks, but literally the day after the diagnosis he immediately stopped eating and drinking, stopped moving around much at all, and started vomiting multiple times per day. I don’t know the dog’s mind, but I think it’s reasonable to believe that he realized something was wrong with him and he gave himself permission to give into the disease that was ravaging his body (he’d been to the dog doctor twice within a single week, and we left with me sobbing my eyes out. Doesn’t take genius-level reasoning skills to know something is not good). I hired a photographer to come take some final family photos, but the soonest she could get out wasn’t until Tuesday and I was worried Rocky wouldn’t make it that long. So after a serious day of illness all day last Thursday, on Friday I started talking to Rocky and telling him what was going on. I told him that he needed to hold on for a few more days. And again, overnight, he seemed better. Well…better-ish.

He started moving around more, resumed eating and drinking, and stopped vomiting. To be fair though, he never did eat dog food again. Our vet literally said “feed him cheeseburgers” (just basically to say he could have whatever/we didn’t need to put him on a special diet). So during his last week he enjoyed pizza, quesadillas, peanut butter sandwiches, and Sonoran hot dogs. All of his favorite foods!

We had our photos done on Tuesday afternoon. I’ve only seen some initial images, but I do think there were some good ones. I’m still kind of sad because you can definitely SEE that Rocky wasn’t feeling well. I don’t think the photos accurately reflect his spunky personality because, at the point of the photos, he was just barely hanging on (in my own mind, he only made it this long because he loves me and I was asking him to hold on). Even so, there were some good ones that I’ll cherish forever. As a surprise, the photographer only charged us $100. It was a very short session (about 20 minutes) because Rocky really wasn’t feeling up to it and the girls kept having melt-downs (not about Rocky, but just the general run-of-the-mill toddler tantrums).

Wednesday morning, the girls went to their last day of preschool and Rocky went back to the vet one final time. Only this time, hubs and I came home empty-handed. I know it was the right time. Almost immediately after our photos on Tuesday night, Rocky showed signs of serious illness again. He refused food and water and resumed throwing up.

I’m telling you….I don’t even know that I believe in that stuff. And yet…it feels like there’s something to it. He was holding on just for me/for those pictures. When they were done…so was he.

I’m heartbroken and sad, of course. But I also feel at peace, knowing it was his time to go. I also like knowing that he had a full lifetime of many wonderful memories and lots and lots of love, hugs, and attention.

I want to thank you all so much for your comments, kindness, and virtual hugs. I really did feel each one! I also loved your tips!

A few of you suggested doing a doggy paw print mold. And thanks to the magic of Amazon Prime, I was able to get this package mailed same day this past weekend. I had Rocky do the mold imprint the same day. I haven’t actually matted it yet, so the picture below is just kind of sitting there (not properly matted and framed), but this gives you an idea of how it will look. This picture is one from 5 years ago at our baby shower for the girls!! I may end up replacing it with one of the professional photos but I love this shot because his eyes are so bright and he looks so happy (he was in the middle of playing ball, his favorite past-time). On the side with the paw print mold, I also plan to mount his name-tag (a bone-shaped tag saying “Rocky” with our phone number).  I LOVE it and I never would have thought of this idea on my own. It was only $20 and I think it was $20 well spent, in my opinion. Thank you to those of you who suggested this idea!


Again, thank you for your kindness. If you aren’t a pet person I know how crazy this all seems. Before we had Rocky, I always thought people who referred to their pets as “babies” were a little weird. No offense! But when we got Rocky I totally became one of “those” people! Hands down! He’s been a huge part of my life the last 11 years! I got him when I was only 21 years old so he has been around for a significant chunk of my life! I know I will miss him always, but my heart will heal.

I hope you all have a great rest of the week and weekend. Thank you for indulging me in these Rocky-heavy posts the past week. Writing has always been healing for me, so I feel like I really needed to write about it as a way to help process the emotions (plus, there have been some serious financial implications, too!) I’ll see you all on Monday with a more “typical” post. Have a great weekend!




  • Reply Alexandra |

    I am so sorry you had to say goodbye to your sweet Rocky. How nice that you got a few extra days to love on him and take those photos. Sending love and good thoughts your way as y’all adjust to a new normal without him around.

  • Reply Sarah |

    Rocky left knowing how loved he was. I had to say goodbye to my 14-year-old Sammy in March under similar circumstances. It took a good month for me to walk in the door and not expect him to be there to greet me. It’s always hard to lose a member of your family. God bless!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Yes!!! The first day I walked in the house and out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw him (what I saw was actually a pile of shoes). It was an awful feeling! Hurts!

  • Reply Jen From Boston |

    Many hugs to you. You and Rocky were blessed to have the time together that you did have.

  • Reply Jean |

    I’m so sorry. Sometimes it’s easier for them to go quickly. I will have to deal with this soon; my ‘boys’ (cats) are both 12-ish, and they’re the first animals that are truly my own.

    I’m glad that you had the photos done, and the paw print made, and he got to enjoy his favorite foods. They will be tangible memories. Now to find your new normal.

    (( Hugs to you ))

  • Reply Judi |

    I am sorry for your loss. It sounds like rocky was such a special dog, I’m glad he held out for the photos and for the print. I’m also glad he got all of his favorite foods for the week, I’m sure it was fun to watch him indulge.

    I have been so moved by this story that I donated money to our local shelter in Rockys name. I hope you find solace in the fact that his story and your bond made it possible for another dog to be rescued. I’m sending love your way!

  • Reply Cheryl |

    It will take awhile not to see Rocky every time you turn around. Your baby didn’t suffer and that is a blessing. How are your daughters, do they even realize something happened? Cheryl

    • Reply Ashley |

      The kids are okay. They knew Rocky was sick and I’d done some googling on age-appropriate ways to address a pet’s death so we talked about it. At their age (almost 4) they still don’t really “get” the permanent nature of death, though (which is normal, according to Google). It really made my life easier, though, because they weren’t terribly upset about it. They said they were sad, then moved right onto playing 2 seconds later.

  • Reply anon |

    Oh, so sad for you. It is so hard to say good bye to our beloved pets. I think you can have great assurance that Rocky had a good, long life with you. Imagine going downhill in such a short amount of time. This was exactly like our dog of 15 years. I strongly believe that pets that are so loved and cared for have a happy and good life to the very end. Then they know it is time to go, and they don’t suffer. Still, there is a big hole that they leave. My hubby worked at home, so our dog was always at his feet. For the longest time he kept talking to her there under the desk! I love the paw print and so nice you had professional photos taken.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thank you for the kind words! I can definitely relate to your hubs. I worked from home for a long time (and even still work from home on occasion), so it’s strange getting used to the fact that he’s not around.

  • Reply Jay |

    What a sweet post. It was difficult to even read it. Many of us have been there. God bless.

  • Reply Susan |

    I am so sorry for your loss. Rocky was so fortunate to have a family that loved him so much; and you were fortunate to have him. Treasure the memories you made together. I love the idea of the professional photographs and the paw print. What terrific ideas. Sending you {{{{{{hugs}}}}}}

  • Reply revdrmd |

    Rocky was a very handsome dog, and very blessed to have you as his family. Sending prayers and hugs your way.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thank you! I think he was quite handsome, too (though, of course, I’m a bit biased) : )

  • Reply scarr |

    I am so sorry for your family’s loss. I love the photo and the paw print – what a wonderful way to honor Rocky.

  • Reply Shannon |

    I’m sorry for your loss. We have 2 14 year-old labs and we know that we’re going to have to go through the same thing. It breaks my heart but I know that we are blessed to have had them as long as we have but I’m also selfish and want them to stay. But I know that we are blessed to have had them as long as we have.
    Sending you and your family hugs. ??
    Thanks for sharing your story. And loving Rocky ?

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