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

  • Report looks at 16 conflict areas and calls for military to stop targeting water resources

    Diarrhoea and other diseases related to poor sanitation are bigger killers of children in areas of conflict than violence and war itself, a report has found, highlighting the need for improved infrastructure as a way of helping civilian populations afflicted by warfare.

    Children under five are more than 20 times more likely to die from diarrhoeal diseases than from direct violence, according to Unicef. Henrietta Fore, the organisation’s executive director, said: “The reality is there are more children who die from lack of access to safe water than by bullets.”

    Continue reading...

  • Failure to protect wildlife, cut pollution and increase funding have left nature in ‘deep crisis’

    The UK will miss almost all the 2020 nature targets it signed up to a decade ago, according to a report by the government’s official advisers.

    The nation is failing to protect threatened species; end the degradation of land; reduce agricultural pollution; and increase funding for green schemes, the assessment concludes. It also says the UK is not ending unsustainable fishing; stopping the arrival of invasive alien species; nor raising public awareness of the importance of biodiversity.

    Continue reading...

  • The ‘Dieselgate’ scandal was suppressed for years – while we should have been driving electric cars. By Beth Gardiner

    John German had not been looking to make a splash when he commissioned an examination of pollution from diesel cars back in 2013. The exam compared what came out of their exhaust pipes, during the lab tests that were required by law, with emissions on the road under real driving conditions. German and his colleagues at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) in the US just wanted to tie up the last loose ends in a big report, and thought the research would give them something positive to say about diesel. They might even be able to offer tips to Europe from the US’s experience in getting the dirty fuel to run a little cleaner.

    But that was not how it turned out. They chose a Volkswagen Jetta as their first test subject, and a VW Passat next. Regulators in California agreed to do the routine certification test for them, and the council hired researchers from West Virginia University to then drive the same cars through cities, along highways and into the mountains, using equipment that tests emissions straight from the cars’ exhausts.

    Continue reading...

  • Rob Stewart’s followup to his 2006 feature shines a light on human cruelty – and gains power from the fate of its maker

    In the 2006 eco-doc Sharkwater, Canadian activist film-maker Rob Stewart gave us a heartfelt plea to save the planet’s sharks. He was on a mission to reduce overfishing and rehabilitate the creatures’ reputation as stone-cold killers – if only we could love sharks as much as we love cuddly pandas we’d do more to protect them. Back then, you couldn’t help feeling that Stewart wanted us to love him too, with all the shots of himself in tiny Speedos. Watching the sequel, I experienced a sharp stab of self-reproach. Stewart died in a diving accident while shooting this film – he was 37. Sharkwater: Extinction has been scrappily put together from footage he’d already shot.

    And there are some striking images here. Since the first film, many countries have banned “finning” ­– the practice of hacking off the fins then tossing the shark’s body back into the sea. But it still happens. In Costa Rica, Stewart uses a drone to film a warehouse packed with them. Shark fin soup is a delicacy in China, which drives the illegal market. And it’s not just finning that’s the problem. In California, he captures upsetting footage of a graceful thresher shark tangled up in a mile-long net intended for swordfish.

    Continue reading...

  • World Water Day study highlights lethal nature of unsafe sanitation and hygiene for children, especially under-fives

    Children under five who live in conflict zones are 20 times more likely to die from diarrhoeal diseases linked to unsafe water than from direct violence as a result of war, Unicef has found.

    Analysing mortality data from 16 countries beset by long-term conflict – including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen – the UN children’s agency also found that unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene kills nearly three times more children under 15 than war.

    Continue reading...

  • Science agency says scourge of wandering trad could be slowed by fungus, which they have called its ‘natural pathogen’

    Australia’s national science agency will release a Brazilian leaf smut fungus to target and kill an invasive weed that covers large parts of the continent’s east coast.

    Researchers from the CSIRO say the scourge of wandering trad could be slowed by the introduction of the Kordyana brasiliensis fungus, which they have called its “natural pathogen”.

    Continue reading...

  • While the ultimate goal is to stop plastics from entering the water in the first place, cleanup projects play an important role

    Somewhere in Hilo, on Hawaii’s Big Island, a team of scientists and engineers are tending to The Ocean Cleanup’s 600-metre-long rubbish-herding device, after its maiden voyage to the Great Pacific garbage patch was cut short in December 2018, because it fractured into two pieces.

    The project has had its fair share of problems since it was unveiled in May 2017 and has been criticised by marine scientists and environmental groups for its potential negative environmental impact. However, some still herald The Ocean Cleanup for having a positive effect on plastic pollution.

    Continue reading...

  • The latest study warning us to eat less meat has brought angry sceptics out in droves. But who should we believe?

    Sometimes, particularly when looking at the weekend newspapers, it can seem that our obsession with food and health has reached a pitch of pure hysteria. “Eat!” screams one headline. “Diet!” shouts another. Cut out carbohydrates, suggests one report. Carbs are good for you, says a different one. Lower your fat intake. No, fat’s healthy, sugar’s the problem. Coffee raises the risk of heart disease. But it lowers the risk of diabetes. And so on, until you just want to ditch the papers and watch The Great British Bake Off or MasterChef.

    Food, how to cook it, what it does to you and what growing or rearing it does to the planet are issues that crowd the media. And yet, as the clamour grows, clarity recedes. An estimated 820 million people went hungry last year, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. A third of all people were vitamin-deficient. Two billion were classified as overweight and 600 million as obese. It’s also estimated that 1bn tonnes of food are wasted every year – a third of the total produced. A plethora of academic reports concerning food consumption and production have been published in recent years. The latest and arguably the most far-reaching is Food in the Anthropocene:the Eat-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems, which was conducted over three years by 37 senior scientists from around the world and published earlier this year.

    Continue reading...

  • Scientists say a drastic cut in meat consumption is needed, but this requires political will

    It has been known for a while that the amount of animal products being eaten is bad for both the welfare of animals and the environment. People cannot consume 12.9bn eggs in the UK each year without breaking a few.

    But the extent of the damage, and the amount by which people need to cut back, is now becoming clearer. On Wednesday, the Lancet medical journal published a study that calls for dramatic changes to food production and the human diet, in order to avoid “catastrophic damage to the planet”.

    Continue reading...

  • The continent’s largest land mammal plays crucial role in spiritual lives of the tribes

    On 5,000 hectares of unploughed prairie in north-eastern Montana, hundreds of wild bison roam once again. But this herd is not in a national park or a protected sanctuary – they are on tribal lands. Belonging to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of Fort Peck Reservation, the 340 bison is the largest conservation herd in the ongoing bison restoration efforts by North America’s Indigenous people.

    The bison – or as Native Americans call them, buffalo – are not just “sustenance,” according to Leroy Little Bear, a professor at the University of Lethbridge and a leader in the bison restoration efforts with the Blood Tribe. The continent’s largest land mammal plays a major role in the spiritual and cultural lives of numerous Native American tribes, an “integrated relationship,” he said.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds