Rocky, a happy rescue dog

Published in About Animals

Not all dogs live the life of Riley in Dalmatia, but some are luckier than others. Here Rocky tells his story.

Rocky, a fine furry friend Rocky, a fine furry friend Phoro: Vivian Grisogono
Rocky had an eventful and unpromising start. He was abandoned not once, but twice, and had to use his own resources (and charm) to survive and find a life and a home. This is a snapshot of some of his experiences in his Pitve home.
 
PUPPY TALK: ROCKY ON RECORD FROM HIS YOUNG DAYS
Any fool can see, I’m the sweetest thing on four legs. SHE (Big Human Mummy) doesn’t like to admit it, but I know she thinks so, ‘cos she smiles when she thinks she shouldn’t, when she’s trying to be cross with me, saying silly things like “no!”, “who did that!!?”, “what’s this supposed to be?!!”, in that loud bullying tone which SHE thinks should frighten me into not doing it (which was always so much fun) again.. SHE remembers finding me tied up on a chain, and then she feels sorry for me, and remembers why she brought me into her lovely warm home. So I can get away with lots - well everything really.

I love playing with my big black friend Chorny. He protects me from those two very big and fearsome elderly ladies Babe and Beba, who snap at me when I’m just trying to be friendly and help them finish their food.

Chorny and I start off very quietly, but if we get noisy SHE shouts, and then we freeze. Chorny holds me so SHE can’t get at me - as if SHE would. Just for a moment everything stops. Then, when we’ve finally played out our play, we fall asleep, and SHE  takes care not to wake us.

SHE’s considerate like that.

Sometimes, Chorny and I are really naughty - or so SHE says - and rip something to shreds. This was only our bed, so we didn’t see why we shouldn’t. But SHE got cross in the usual way. So I pleaded innocence. Moi? Make a mess? While Chorny, being older and by his lights wiser, disappeared. When the dust settled, or more accurately, when SHE’d swept it all up, we made some more mess and went to sleep, and SHE, as always, considerately kept quiet to avoid waking us. You see, I am the sweetest thing on four legs, and I have this situation well under control.

I AM HER RIGHT HAND
I know how to be helpful in the garden. She had these tatty plastic watering cans, so of course it was my duty to chew them to bits so that she bought a proper metal one. I was just keeping up our standards, but I wouldn't like to repeat her language when she found the pieces. The volume was quite deafening. Of course later on she realized how right I was, so now she uses her metal watering can with due pride. Well, that's how I see it at any rate. SHE says she'd forgotten about the plastic episode until I brought it up so tactlessly.

I noticed she does a lot of digging, which is hard work for her, so to make her life easier, I dig holes as much as I can, in case she wants to put something in them. If she doesn’t use them, they’re always good for burying those odds and ends that come a dog’s way when he’s clever enough to look out for things that’ll come in useful one day. But SHE gets cross and shouts. Then, when I saw she’d absent-mindedly dug a deep hole and forgotten about it, I helped out by filling it in - and you should have heard her language! Well, how was I to know the grapefruit tree was going into it? That gaping hole was dangerous to canine and human paws, what if one of us had fallen into it?

When SHE gets angry with me - always unjustly in my view - she shouts. VERY LOUDLY. Clearly her communication skills are deficient. She needs remedial dog-talk classes.
SHE tells me I'm the one who needs training. What an insult. But I like her training methods, so I humour her. She calls me, and I get a delicious biscuit when I run up and sit in front of her looking appealing. She gets a bit confused sometimes, poor old soul, telling me to sit, then to lie down, then to sit again. What can she mean? I wait patiently and look wistful. Sometimes I just go through all the motions quickly as best I can until she makes up her mind which one earns me the biscuit.

SHE’s at her silliest at mealtimes. She gets our plates ready, and then sits down and stuffs her face with a yoghurt or a banana. I bark to alert her to the error of her ways. She won’t listen, but compounds her error by putting down the plates in front of those 3 mutts from up the hill first. I’m last. How can this be? I bark and bark again, and jump up and down, but she does it every time, regardless. When will she learn that I’m the number one, and it’s my right to eat first?

I hear her telling the people who come to visit that they have to ignore me. How stupid, when of course they’ve only come to see me. Most of them, naturally, ignore her and pet me as I so richly deserve, and I reward them by giving them my undivided attention. They sometimes say odd things, like “find yourself a girlfriend”, or “stop nipping my ankles”, as though they can’t understand how I’m honouring them. Odd bunch, these humans, never satisfied. It takes a lot to lick them into shape.

Being a perfect specimen, not to mention handsome, cute and smart, it’s my duty to keep trying. I have great hopes of bringing her to heel in due course, obstinate though she is. She could shape up to be a credit to me, an example of how much a four-legged friend can achieve with even the most unpromising  human companion.
You see, I am the cleverest thing on four legs, and I have this situation well under control.

DEFENDER OF THE PEACE, THAT'S ME
In between shouting so unnecessarily, SHE is also prone to laugh at me, which is of course totally inappropriate. I am a four-legged creature of dignity, with unswerving loyalty to my undeserving human.

SHE simply doesn’t understand how much effort and energy I expend protecting her. First and foremost from the reckless bad behaviour of those mutts from up the hill. Three of them live with us, though frankly I sometimes think the two black ones should be told to pack their bags, and then be left by the side of the road as I was. That would teach them some better manners and respect for me, the natural leader. SHE says it didn’t teach me any manners, but that’s just her being mean. All that said, Nada is welcome to stay, she’s good fun to play with, and she’s blonde like me, though not nearly as pretty as me, of course.

Do you know, over one Christmas and New Year, when things should have been ultra-peaceful, there was a multiplication of these mutts, five extras piled into the house! We were just overrun with them, tiny ones, young ones, grown-ups, all black or blond, what a mess. It was almost impossible to breathe, and all discipline went right out of the window, despite my best efforts to assert my authority, as SHE had clearly lost her marbles.

Though I have to admit I quite liked having Renči around, who’s mother to almost all of them. I’ve always fancied her, and I’m sure she has a soft spot for me which would surface if only we were ever alone together. But I digress.

As I said, SHE, two-legged ingrate that she is, laughs, one could even say she mocks. She says my legs are too short and my tail too long. She laughs at my style when I run and jump. She laughs even more when I do my best belligerent bark to fend off the enemy who might attack her. She tells me that cars tend to stay on their own pathways, so they won’t harm us if we stay out of their way. Other people who dare to walk down our tracks are usually friends, according to her. If they’re not, she says, she avoids contact, it’s simpler than barking at them. No need to bark. But my duty is to defend her, so I have to give voice when I sense danger.

Her biggest problem is her failure to understand how fierce I sound. She scoffs, making rude insinuations about my “high-pitched trilling”. She even says I shouldn’t bark when I go out in the garden. Doesn’t she know how many potential enemies are lurking around waiting to pounce? Well, I realize it’s a small and peaceful, trouble-free place, but who knows what crimes might be committed if I didn’t forestall them with my fiercest barking?

She nearly split her sides in the fields one day when I spotted a real threat and went into the attack, barking and charging. I admit I did feel a bit silly when she pointed out it was just a rotovator which was left in the neighbouring field to finish churning over the earth ready for the new season. But, it looked just like a Weapon of Mass Destruction in the twilight, and it was clearly my duty to protect her from same while she toiled away digging around her precious olive trees. Act first, time enough to think later, or we might regret it.

Some weeks later, I met a new experience, a challenge which caused the fiercest barking. The whole place had changed, it was all cold and white. But I knew immediately it was done for FUN, so I set about playing, finding my buried toys, I mean essential work-tools, and re-burying them.

Needless to say, those mutts, not to mention HER, didn’t venture forth. Yet again, I showed them who’s TOP DOG.

EATING - INS AND OUTS

I have lots of friends, as you’d expect of one as irresistible as I am, despite what SHE says to the contrary. One of my Very Special Friends is a young man called Frankie. SHE claims Frankie is HER friend, and she knew him and his family way before I was a twinkle in the eye, but I know he only befriended her as a way of getting to know ME.

Frankie is a fine fellow, generous to a fault. He loves animals, but of course I’m his favourite, even though he keeps that a secret between us so the others don’t get jealous. He’s ultra-considerate like that, although personally I think it would do them good to know how important I am. Frankie has a lot of important friends apart from me, but of course I am his Top Dog.

Frankie and his dad Ivica run one of the best restaurants around, just down the road from us. It’s called the Dvor Duboković, a grand name because they come from a grand old family. They serve up fine food. I know, because Frankie is often kind enough to bring round the bones, which are apparently the leftovers, but which make a fine meal. Or at least they would if SHE would give them to us. Instead, she cooks them up into a soup, and serves it up with our dry food or rice. It’s very delicious, but then who gets to crunch the bones? They seem to disappear, just when we’re all getting ready for the main part of the feast. What does she do with them?

Sometimes on special occasions at the Dvor Duboković Ivica and his friends sing - they’re pretty good singers, I know, as she tells me they’re often invited to sing in other places and even in foreign parts. Frankie often sings in the group, which is called Klapa Bagulin. Sometimes he does duets with special friends like Kevan. She loves the singing, and always goes when it’s on. She talks a lot about the place, so I know that she had a splendid evening there one time with ten young friends from her other country, and one of them was so drunk that he insisted on dancing with her! It quite turned her head. I wouldn’t have allowed her to make such a fool of herself if I’d been there, but this happened before I was around to control her unseemly frivolity.

And here’s the main point. I’ve never been to the Dvor Duboković. She won’t take me. Now I can understand that she wouldn’t want to take those three mutts from up the hill, as they’d definitely lower the tone. But ME? The cutest smartest thing on four legs? I’d be a real asset to the place, people would come from far and wide just to see and hear ME. I’d be such a good host, welcoming all the guests as they arrived. I’d sit quietly under each table and keep the floor clean if anyone happened to drop their food. My handsome presence in the beautiful garden would enhance the magnificent view. I’d also sing along with the harmonies when there’s a party - my shrill trill, as she so rudely calls it, is actually a fine high tone which would really complement those deep male voices.

And when I wag my tail and look ultra-appealing, I’d be the perfect mascot, and we’d all be famous. At the very least, it would be worth a plateful of real food for me, and extra helpings for HER. But she won’t hear of it. She tells me she doesn’t think people would be glad to have me greet them. IMPOSSIBLE, who could resist the sweetest thing on four legs jumping up to gaze lovingly into their eyes, tail all a-wag? And she has the gall to say she doesn’t trust me to be peaceful and calm during my under-table duties, she seems to think I’d nibble ankles, jump on laps or snatch food from the waiters. ME! MOI?? As if I would.

This is a difficult challenge, and I’m working on it. When my friend Frankie comes up with my hoard of bones, which I so generously share with those mutts from up the hill, I ask him to intercede. I know he sees my point of view, as he’s always been terrific at drawing people to the restaurant: they come from miles around, and they all come back again and again, so he understands marketing. I’d be the icing on the cake, the perfect assistant promoter. But he shakes his head and says SHE is so old we have to listen to her - even when her ideas are close to barking mad. Well, he doesn’t say that last bit, but I think he would if he wasn’t always so genuinely nice to everyone, even when they’re being pigheaded and stupid.

She’s let slip that there are often weddings and birthdays and festive fine meals at the Dvor Duboković, and it’s always lots of fun. I also know that other four-legged furries go there, some of them on a regular basis. That's so unfair. I just HAVE to be there. PLEASE, someone, persuade her to take me.

© Rocky, as told to Vivian Grisogono, 2014

You are here: Home about animals Rocky, a happy rescue dog

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Thousands of protesters occupied bridges across the Thames over extinction crisis in huge act of peaceful civil disobedience

    Eighty-five people have been arrested as thousands of demonstrators occupied five bridges in central London to voice their concern over the looming climate crisis.

    Protesters, including families and pensioners, began massing on five of London’s main bridges from 10am on Saturday. An hour later, all the crossings had been blocked in one of the biggest acts of peaceful civil disobedience in the UK in decades. Some people locked themselves together, while others linked arms and sang songs.

    Continue reading...

  • Scientists in Brazil find first evidence of plastic pollution in Amazon basin freshwater fish

    Scientists have found the first evidence of plastic contamination in freshwater fish in the Amazon, highlighting the extent to which bags, bottles and other waste dumped in rivers is affecting the world’s wildlife.

    Tests on the stomach contents of fish in Brazil’s Xingu River, one of the major tributaries of the Amazon, revealed plastic particles in more than 80% of the species examined, including the omnivorous parrot pacu, herbivorous redhook silver dollar, and meat-eating red-bellied piranha.

    Continue reading...

  • Cuadrilla won’t say if it has halted Preston New Road exploration, at cost of £94,000 a day

    The shale gas firm Cuadrilla has refused to confirm whether it has halted fracking after triggering a series of minor earthquakes near Blackpool, raising questions over the operation’s future prospects.

    Dozens of small tremors have been registered near the company’s Preston New Road site, after it started pumping high volumes of water undergroundin October to explore for gas.

    Continue reading...

  • Starlings over Rome and the ‘smiling angel’ of the Yangtze are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

    Continue reading...

  • Huge expansion of agri-food industry is harming environment, say investigators

    Green energy subsidies are fuelling the rise of poultry mega-farms across Northern Ireland, with owners accused of contaminating sensitive habitats with emissions from chicken faeces.

    An alliance of agri-food companies enlisted the support of Northern Ireland politicians to unlock an estimated £800m in subsidies for contractors. This has paved the way for industry expansion at the expense of the environment, according to an investigation by the not-for-profit journalism group SourceMaterial.

    Continue reading...

  • In the last 30 years, gulls have come among us as never before. But is their moment coming to an end as we tackle our waste problem?

    When was the last day you didn’t see a gull? Throughout Britain we ordinarily cross paths with these birds more often than with any other wild creature. They are hard to avoid. In the last 30 years – the lifespan of a large gull – they have come among us as never before. Though still popularly regarded as seagulls, many have moved inland, far from the seaside or saltwater. They have adapted to life in many places we have made, and they have thrived.

    Cities and their hinterlands where we jettison our rubbish now sustain far more gulls than the birds’ former more traditional marine habitats. Indeed, in a paradox that might define the Anthropocene era, surviving coastal birds are now regarded as threatened with local extinction, while the same gull species in urban areas are so prevalent they are thought of as pests.

    Continue reading...

  • Ranking of countries’ goals shows even EU on course for more than double safe level of warming

    China, Russia and Canada’s current climate policies would drive the world above a catastrophic 5C of warming by the end of the century, according to a study that ranks the climate goals of different countries.

    The US and Australia are only slightly behind with both pushing the global temperature rise dangerously over 4C above pre-industrial levels says the paper, while even the EU, which is usually seen as a climate leader, is on course to more than double the 1.5C that scientists say is a moderately safe level of heating.

    Continue reading...

  • ‘The two things I love most are novels and birds, and they’re both in trouble,’ says The Corrections author, one of the world’s most famous birdwatchers

    Birdwatching was once an activity that elicited a sense of mild shame in Jonathan Franzen. The author stalked New York parks with binoculars in hand, rather than on a strap, carefully hiding from view the word “birds” on his field guide. Debonair friends in London recoiled in horror when told of his pastime. Franzen was furtive, almost embarrassed. Now, he is one of the most famous birdwatchers in the world.

    “I totally let my freak flag fly now,” Franzen says as he scans for birds at a community garden near his home in Santa Cruz, California. His phone has an app that deciphers bird sounds. He travels the world to see recondite species. He has written about birds in essays, op-eds and novels.

    “I was so socially unsuccessful in my youth and such a pariah in junior high that I really didn’t want to look like a dork,” says Franzen, the 59-year-old author whose best known works include The Corrections and Freedom. “I got over that. The success started to make me think: ‘Hey, it’s not me who’s got the problem.’”

    Continue reading...

  • Undersea forests, bleached and killed by rising ocean temperature, might disappear in a few decades, experts warn

    Children born today may be the last generation to see coral reefs in all their glory, according to a marine biologist who is coordinating efforts to monitor the decline of the world’s most colourful ecosystem.

    Global heating and ocean acidification have already severely bleached 16 to 33% of all warm-water reefs, but the remainder are vulnerable to even a fraction of a degree more warming, said David Obura, chair of the Coral Specialist Group in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

    Continue reading...

  • In the latest from our series on biodiversity, the Blue Hill chef says we’ve got sustainable agriculture wrong. It’s not a question of sacrifice, but deliciousness

    “How does it taste?” says Dan Barber, regarding me expectantly in the garden of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, his restaurant in the Hudson Valley just north of New York. I am gnawing the crust of a large piece of bread that has been grown from Barber Wheat, a hybrid seed developed by Barber and his partners to be nutrient dense, high in yield and – a radical thought in seed breeding, apparently – full of flavour. (Whereas clapped out old seeds might yield 30 bushels an acre, Barber Wheat will stretch to 95). The bread is simultaneously light, and dense, and intricate in flavour in such a way that I can’t think of a single word to do it justice. Barber, who at 49 has the manic energy of someone for whom no plate of food will ever live up to the ideal in his head, looks at me gloomily. “That’s the whole problem with food writing,” he says.

    There are bigger problems in the food world. With the possible exception of “financial regulation”, there can be few more deadly phrases to the casual reader than “sustainable agriculture”, a heavy-weather issue most of us recognise as increasingly important but nonetheless killingly dull. This is where Barber, who set up his restaurant in 2004, is hugely persuasive, a charismatic leader who, if you talk to him for an hour while walking around the kitchen and bucolic surroundings of Stone Barns, will have you genuinely excited about crop rotation, and soil conditions, and the fact that the food industry is a dying behemoth reliant on low-yield, agronomically risky seeds that produce ever more tasteless and nutrition-less food.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds