Since our dog, Rocket, was found abandoned, we had to trust a veterinarian to give us an estimate of Rocket’s age when he came to live with us. The determination was six months. We chose October 1st as his birthday.
Rocket turned 11 this year. Since Laura and I are closing in on our 11th wedding anniversary in December, Rocket has been with us almost all of his life and nearly all of our married life. We could not be happier to share our life together with such a wonderful friend.
As you can see, Rocket’s age brought quite a bit of graying to our Black Lab mix. That has not stopped Rocket from his favorite activity though. Every time we mention the word “run,” Rocket begins racing through the house, up and down the stairs, to the door and back to be sure we are not fooling him. With every look of anticipation, he begs us to hurry and get dressed.
Age has slowed Rocket. He no longer leads every run. He measures his pace and knows shortcuts around the Stateland cross country course we use in Topeka. He gets stiff and sore after runs, but then so do I. We limp around like two old men until the joints lube up and our internal engines warm to the tasks ahead. We cringe when Rocket shows hip discomfort common with Labs. For now, though, there is no stopping Rocket’s runs.
When work or travel keeps us from our regular runs, Rocket lets us know. Usually that results in a rolling raucous fight between the two of us in the living room that ends with Rocket worn out or me bleeding from a tooth that catches my arm during our battle. Failing that, Rocket will dig through the recycling bins and find something he can chew on to let us know the neglect must end.
Like an athlete that decides to “take the needle” to continue to play, Rocket now takes a monthly Adequan injection that helps ease inflammation in his hips. Rocket’s weight remains a constant 60 pounds each month. His coat gleams and his stature shows no signs of aging which pleases Brian Stancliffe, our veterinarian. He believes Rocket’s runs have been a blessing for his health as they have for me and Laura.
Nevertheless, we know runs with Rocket will end someday. We cannot imagine what it will feel like to sneak out for a run without him. Until then, we will enjoy the joyful time before and during our runs and carefully monitor his post-run health. We never want to see Rocket suffer because he remains everything anyone would want in a dog. Most of all he is our dear and loyal friend with whom we hope to share the joys of a run for years to come.
Belated Happy Birthday wishes, Rocket. Long may you run.