Thursday, August 27, 2015


It all started with my daughter being at the birth of her friend’s dog, Rocco. She was amazed and smitten. When her friend announced he was selling the puppies, I was relieved as I was NOT buying a dog. I have never bough t a dog. They have all been given to us, but that’s another story.

Rocco’s story got more complicated. One puppy was smaller than the others and needed medical attention.

Treated and healthy, his small size made him less attractive than the puppies. No one wanted him and he was to be turned over to a shelter. My daughter was heartsick. She and her friend concocted a plan. She would bring the puppy home for 2 weeks. That was over 6 years ago.

Let me backtrack. She brought the puppy home. He as amazing. A gorgeous black and white boxer. He was friendly and cuddly. He ate what we gave him, played with a few toys and slept through the night. He did have a crazy period every night at 9:30 pm, when he ran around like crazy. I later learned this was his way of discharging energy so that he could sleep.

We all fell in love with Rocco. My daughter promised to feed and walk him. I reminded her, she was leaving for college in the fall. She smiled sheepishly and asked if I would take care of him for her. I knew I was in for the long run. As he grew and became stronger, I decided either my arm would be pulled out of his socket or he would need training. I found a 6 week training program at the local PetSmart. Scott was a lifesaver. Turned out, Rocco is very smart. But, of course, I knew that. After all, every “mother” thinks her “kid” is the cutest and smartest. He learned everything quickly, and ended up the valedictorian of his class, with a cap and gown photo to prove it. I was so proud.

He walked with me, stayed, sat, shook hands/paws, dropped items he should not have and learned to “leave squirrels and birds alone. We should have worked on groundhogs and deer, as well. Those he prefers to try and play with. Ugh.

Rocco has grown into a 90 pound boxer. The runt of the litter? I would hate to see the size of his brothers and sisters. He is still cuddly, even crawling into my lap for a hug. He loves having his ears rubbed and belly scratched. He is great on long car rides and is a great watch dog, although I believe he would lick any intruder until they succumbed.

Rocco eats a lot. While he loves anything meat, wheat or dairy, he has allergies. We have been to the vet on several occasions when he broke out in hives and have limited his diet to allowed foods. While he has learned to stop begging for foods he is not allowed to eat, his sad and mournful eyes makes it hard to resist. We have sensitive skin and stomach treats available for him.

Rocco plays a lot. As a puppy, he liked chew toys and soft toys with squeakers inside. He would rip out the squeaker and then toss aside the toy. We tried fabric sleeves in which you would stuff an empty plastic water bottle. He liked the sound and we could replace the bottle when necessary. Besides, this was much cheaper than buying a new toy every week. He is now into balls – ones we buy and finding tennis balls anytime he goes for a walk in the park. He knows each one by smell. How do I know this?

Rocco plays with his balls constantly. Inevitably, they get lodged under the couch. When he wants one, he sticks his nose under the couch and whines. This means one of us has to get down on our belly and pull out the ball. What we discovered is that if we get the “wrong” ball, he continues to complain until we get the “right” one. Then he is a happy fellow.

He is very discerning as to who he likes. If you are on his good list, you get the pleasure of him scooting up next to you, laying his head in your lap and maybe even trying to get a hug from you, which entails all of his 90 pounds climbing into your lap. A rub behind the ears or belly rub, until your fingers fall off, is also welcomed.

Rocco has specific sleeping requirements. During the day, he will sleep on the floor, couch, bed or chair. But at night, everything changes. He still has that 9:30 pm thing. Although, he no longer runs around. He now, quietly disappears into my bedroom. If I don’t come in around 10 pm, he reappears in the living room, as if “What’s going on? It’s time for bed.” Then it’s bedtime. He starts the night put either at the foot of my bed or on the couch in my room. But as the night goes on, he wriggles his way under the blanket. Remember, this is a 90 pound dog. And if that isn’t enough, he spreads his paws out in front of him, thereby taking up half the bed. Depending on which way he has decided to spread his paws, my sleeping continues or is rudely disrupted. Ugh. Did you ever try to move a dead-weight 90 pound dog? I know I keep stressing his weight, but the largest dog I had before this weighed 12 pounds. I used to throw him in my purse and keep going.

I have more photos of Rocco than of my children. Albeit, he is with me all the time and my daughters live in their own apartments now. But, he is very photogenic and does the cutest things. He sits like a human with his tush on a pillow, lies on his back with his mouth open and tongue hanging out, sleeps holding on to a pillow and has a great smile. He poses with people, other dogs and, once, even a snapping turtle. Although, that was an impromptu pic. He has graced the screen saver on my phone. He is definitely part of my everyday life.

My daughter, remember the one who wanted this dog, who saved him from a shelter, has moved on. She went to college, came home and now lives in California. The dog remains with me, part of our New York family.

Rocco is fierce looking with marshmallow filling. He jumps for joy when I come home and stays close when my mood is low. I love him with all my heart, which at 90 pounds, a bed hogger and someone needing a playmate - is a good thing. He is my companion, nurse, therapist and best friend.

Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a New York and New Jersey licensed social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. She has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled adoptive parents and parents-to-be, and has trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program from March 1992 to March 2015. She is Head Writer for, member of the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood and has a private practice in New York City. She was a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series and named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001. Follow or reach her at ADOPTION MAVEN BLOG or EMAIL.