While visiting the in-laws last summer, a sweet dog came wandering into the yard. He was a white pit bull mix, and we bonded immediately. He not only followed me everywhere I went outside, but he walked beside me, and liked to nudge my hand with his head. He was vibrant, playful, and affectionate–the perfect dog.
Despite his affectionate nature, it was obvious that he had been neglected and most likely dumped out on the dirt road. He was covered in ticks, and had scrapes on his belly and legs.
I gave him a bath and picked off every tick-I stopped counting after 30-and he didn’t once try to bite or attack me even though he was in pain. I cleaned the blood from his ears after removing all of the ticks, and he rested on the porch in the sunlight, relieved.
I decided to name him Rocky, after the movie character, because like Rocky Balboa, this amazing dog was beaten and abandoned, yet he had a strong will and still managed to love relentlessly.
In the country, it is customary to kill dogs when they wander on the property, become sick, or kill an animal without the intention of eating it. At least, this is customary for my husband’s family. His dad didn’t want Rocky around. He said that if he didn’t leave, he would shoot him.
I drove as far as I thought I could, with Rocky chasing me, down the dirt road. I felt like I was torturing him by making him run in the summer heat. Tongue hanging out of his mouth, and exhausted, he kept on running after me. In hopes that he would wander to a good home and rest, I sped up and turned the corner, hoping he would lose my trail. This was my heartbreaking attempt to give him a chance at a life he deserved.
Several hours later, Rocky came back. He was so happy to see me, and I was happy to see that he was still alive. My husband’s brother said that he would take care of Rocky so that their dad wouldn’t kill him. I was hopeful, but knew deep down inside that he wouldn’t keep his word.
One day, my husband and I were getting ready to take our son to a museum,and his mom was going to take our daughter to check out some yard sales. As I was in the bathroom getting ready, I heard my husband and his brother talking quietly. I didn’t have to hear what they said to know what they were talking about.
I came out of the bathroom and said,”He’s going to shoot him today, isn’t he?” Apparently it was rude of me to be eavesdropping…but yes, that was indeed their plan. His brother was going to help his dad kill Rocky while we were all out, and I felt helpless, angry, betrayed, and devastated.
To this day, I still have the picture in my mind of the night before. I was sitting outside looking at the stars and Rocky had his head in my lap, occasionally putting his paw on my hand when I’d stop petting him.
My husband and I argued the whole way to the museum. I was crying and he said the reason they didn’t want me to know was because they didn’t want me to make a scene. People who know me, including them, know that I’m not the scene-making type.
I made peace within myself knowing that even if it was brief, Rocky knew he was loved. My husband’s dad has the blood of a precious and innocent dog on his hands. I was angry knowing he got away with what he did to me (details on my site under “My Stories”) and he had the nerve to execute an animal whose only offense was being on his property.
My husband tried to console me by letting me know that Rocky was shot between the eyes, and that he didn’t suffer. I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that the same kind of person to sexually assault their son’s wife would have the capability to look a harmless animal in the eyes and shoot him.
Still, I see Rocky in my thoughts. I think about him every day, and I am stricken with a whirlwind of emotions and guilt. If my husband would have allowed me to take him home with us [if I had tried harder to convince him and put my foot down] Rocky would be here today.
I was told that it was my fault he died because I paid attention to him, and that kept him coming around. An entire family worked together to try to hide Rocky’s premeditated murder from me, yet, it was my fault.