After being found wandering the desert, dog is rescued and has rocks removed from belly.

Rocky's rescue

Two years ago was a different story for Rocky, an abandoned Pit Bull desperately searching for food and a better life. For reasons unknown to her rescuers, Rocky was found roaming California’s San Jacinto desert, starving and homeless. She was all skin and bones, except for one rather large detail - an exceptionally large belly.

After X-raying her stomach, rescuers found it was full of rocks, which they believe the Pit Bull ate to keep her from starving. Full she was, on the wrong sort of food, and in desperate need of surgery. Named Rocky by her rescuers, she underwent an urgent operation and luckily made a full recovery.

The next challenge for rescuers was to find Rocky a new home. Bouncing around boarding houses and foster homes for a few months, her story soon reached re-homing organisation Luvable Dog Rescue in Eugene, Oregon. With plenty of space and the perfect set-up, Luvable Dog Rescue was able to take her on in July 2016. With the help of the Shelter Transport Animal Rescue Team (START), Rocky was transferred to her new temporary home.

Finding Rocky a new home

As a new favourite at Luvable Dog Rescue, Rocky settled in and made new friends very quickly. “Rocky was wonderful with all of our staff and volunteers from the moment she arrived at Luvable,” Liesl Wilhardt, founder and executive director of Luvable said. “She loved to play games and play with toys, and go for hikes and runs, but she also loved to cuddle. She put on weight and muscle and became a fit and athletic dog.”

Liesl said Rocky made a lot of funny noises, gurgling and snorting and grunting, especially when she was happy.

“She always made us laugh. She was a very happy dog, downright joyful, and we swear she knew she was saved and was very, very grateful.”

The challenge came when Rocky tried to interact with other dogs. Liesl said Rocky was great with other dogs in her foster home in California, but she could be a bit bossy and reactive with dogs she met at Luvable.

“Poor Rocky seemed to just get so excited and overstimulated that she couldn’t control her manners, which put off some other dogs and made people anxious to be responsible for her. So, even though she was a great dog 99 percent of the time and people liked her when they met her, nobody was willing to give her a home.”

It would be another year before Rocky would meet her now parents.

Introducing Rocky to her new parents and dog brother

Rich and Diane Carey were connected to Luvable after adopting their French Bulldog-Pit Bull mix Hank in 2016. Similar to Rocky, a poorly kept Hank (formerly knows as Champy) was brought to Luvable suffering a horrible case of mange. He improved, and so did his story when he soon became a part of the Carey household.

“I had kinda kept in touch with Luvable, occasionally sending pics of Hank, and they mentioned that Hank needed a sister,” Diane said. “I asked about a few of their dogs and each time I asked I was told they were in a sleepover, but Rocky had never had a sleepover and [had] been there almost a year.”

After losing their other dog Dutch, the Carey’s decided it was time to get Hank a new mate to help reduce the pain of missing their furry friend.

It was August 2017 when the Carey’s finally met Rocky. She was brought to the their home by Luvable’s manager and director of adoptions Ashley Olson, and pit bull adoption counsellor and trainer, Danielle Day.

“Ashley and Danielle worked with Hank and Rocky for about two hours,” Diane said. “Both of the dogs are pretty aggressive when they play and I was really nervous because I liked Rocky right away and was afraid they would say it wasn’t a match, but they thought it would work.”

Diane said Rocky was “such a sweetie” right away and was incredibly loving towards them, including giving them lots of kisses. She loved the attention from the Carey’s and Hank din’t seem to mind them returning the affection to Rocky.

Despite the occasional altercation, Rocky and Hank played and got along well during the two hours. However, things took a turn for the worse that night when Rocky and Hank got into a nasty fight, which resulted in the Carey’s having to return Rocky to Luvable.

Upset about the situation, and being very fond of Rocky, the Carey’s wanted to give it another go so got back in touch with Luvable.


Dog training for a friendly home

It was Liesl who came up with the solution to enlist the help of an expert dog trainer who would take Rocky and Hank onboard, 24/7 as part of an intensive board and train program.

“My hope was that if we hired an experienced dog handler to work with the two dogs in a safe and controlled environment together, he could address the problems as they arose and help the dogs learn to trust one another, live in peace and even enjoy each other. And it worked!” Liesl said.

After four days at the trainer’s home, Rocky (now known as Roxi) and Hank were ready to go home, but not before the Carey’s received some training techniques of their own to help handle future conflicts and ensure their two furry friends would get along.

“Sometimes owners mean well but they are just not up to the challenge of dealing with dogs who are acting out or behaving in an aggressive or dominant way,” Liesl said.

Roxi’s new best friend

Since the training, Roxi and Hank have become inseparable and have each found a new best friend, running the grounds of the Carey’s property and playing games of tug-of-war.

“We are so happy with Roxi,” Diane said. “She and Hank get along great and have a blast playing.”

“We have automatic sprinklers and Roxi loves when the water comes on. She puts her whole mouth over the sprinkler and pops the top plastic part off of it.”

A stark contrast from her days wandering the desert, Roxi especially loves going for drives in the van the Carey’s bought for the two dogs.

“It was a bit of a journey to get Roxi here, but thanks to the great people at Luvable we did,” Diane said. “She is a very special girl and we love her very much!”

Source: The Dodo

Photo credits: Luvable Dog Rescue, Rich and Diane Carey, Sophie Gamand

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