To the Best Traveling Companion: Rocky

To the best traveling companion

It has taken me a while to write this article, but I thought I would approach it from a manner of celebrating and honouring the life of Rocky the Traveller.

He was the one who inspired me to create this site and all our social media channels.

Back in November 2023, Rocky passed away at the age of 15 years and 3 months as he fought a tough fight against a terrible disease. He was a warrior until the end.

Rocky the Traveller- taken in Brighton around 2016

We had the best times together and he was the greatest companion I ever had.  I am grateful to have had such a wonderful, lively, positive and loyal being in my life. He was the one constant in all of the change I had in my life. From different jobs, to studying in different universities across many states and even moving abroad to England, Rocky was the one constant in my life who would go with me everywhere.

It sometimes felt like those times would never end.

All the way back in 2014/2015 we managed to pack up our lives and move across the ocean to the UK. Eventually, our travels there took us to 22 different countries. Later on we would travel a bit more in the US and in total we did about 7 states (8 technically, if you count a Texas airport) and countless cities, towns and villages across those 22 countries.

Looking back, I had thought Rocky would be with me until at least 16 years old and I had been planning one last big epic continental European trip, which I had unfortunately kept putting off for various reasons.

Our travels

Rocky in Paris in December 2015, what a treat

As I had mentioned before, I had planned a big road trip. This was in the making since prior to Covid-19. But the pandemic happened, and the trip never happened. I had originally planned to take him to a couple of countries we hadn’t been to before including Slovenia, Poland and then we would once again visit Italy and France, two of the most dog friendly countries in Europe.

We never took that last European trip, but I have so many memories of previous travels and I’m glad we got to enjoy those while he was still young and healthy.

While we didn’t get to do that last epic continental Euro trip, we did get a chance to still travel a bit in his last year on Earth.

I was happy to share some fantastic times with him of traveling in Florida throughout 2023 to wonderful places like Key West, St. Augustine, Daytona Beach, Ponce Inlet, New Smyrna Beach, Orlando, the Blue Springs State Park and a few other cool destinations.

Rocky and I in Key West, FL, the southernmost point in continental USA, 2023

On top of that, we signed up for a clinical study in September and October 2023 in which we had to travel up to Virginia to do an experimental vaccine in an effort to fight the disease he had – hemangiosarcoma. In another post, I might detail our fight as there are many others who are going through the fight with hemangiosarcoma as well.

We took two road trips to Virginia for the vaccine and the booster three weeks later and those trips will forever stay in my heart as our last little adventure together.

We got to see Hilton Head Beach in South Carolina, walk through Rocky Mount Mills and stay in a tiny house in North Carolina as well as stroll through the downtown of Fayetteville and saw a bit of Richmond Virginia.

Hilton Head, South Carolina, 2023

Throughout his battle with the terrible disease, these adventures served as a gift for us as we got to do something we used to love doing, particularly because we knew we didn’t have much time left.

Rocky got to spent some time at the beaches in South Carolina and Florida and his inner puppy even came out throughout our travels – at 15 years of age!

Rocky and I at Ponce Inlet dog beach in FL, 2023

There are no words that will ever fully describe how I feel after the loss of Rocky. But I am grateful for the time I got with him and he taught me so many lessons in life that I will take with me.

A beautiful journey

Rocky in 2008, the year he was born

I will never forget the first day I met him as an 8-week old puppy and how I was able to pick him up with one hand, way back in 2008. Little did I know at the time the journey that life would take us. My time with him will be some of the most special, if not the most special, years of my life.

He was rambunctious, more than a handful and even destructive at times as a puppy, and I wish I had understood him more but it took me years to fully understand him and while the first few years were rough as I didn’t know how to take care of such an energetic and stubborn dog as Rocky, I eventually managed to develop a harmonious relationship with him.

I would see him as more than just a dog, but a family member with his own wants and needs and I would start to bring him along in almost everywhere I went to throughout life.

I recognise it’s difficult to bring dogs everywhere and with how busy our lives can be, it’s also tricky to devote time to them. But I had been fortunate enough to have the time and the flexibility, especially in his later years, to spend a lot of time with him.

When we moved to the UK in 2014/2015 I discovered how dog friendly the country was and as a result I began to take him to more places with me.

Big Ben meets Rocky (2015, London)

I was doing a master’s degree and I even managed to take him with me to the campus a few times while I studied. I brought him to the pubs, cafes, national historical sites, restaurants, shops and even once I took him to a dog friendly cinema showing.

Living in the UK also meant that I had access to Europe.

The first time I travelled with him, me and a friend from university booked a car and took the ferry to France. I’ll never forget the moment we made a stop in Calais, France and he jumped out of the car to do his business.

I thought to myself, “wow his little paws are touching France now”. It was such a big deal for me as we had been in Florida for so long and we were now, in 2015, traveling across France. That same trip we went to Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, Monaco and even Switizerland.

It opened the idea of travel for me, and I saw that he enjoyed the new environments and meeting new people. Throughout the next few years, we managed to take further road trips to the Netherlands, Czechia, Hungary, Greece, Romania, Austria, Spain and much more. We even got the chance to live in the beautiful city of Barcelona for a few months.

Our last proper continental trip in Europe was at the end of 2019 and new year 2020 when we visited France and Switzerland.

After that we had visited Northern Ireland and Ireland and spent three weeks there in late 2021 as I had to travel there for work. We spent weeks in a lakeside cottage in County Mayo, Ireland which was beautiful.

 

Rocky in Youghal, Ireland, 2021

2022-2023

Rocky and I in Ponce Inlet, FL, 2023

In 2022, Rocky was dealing with arthritis and his age began to show, so we took it easy and our travels were mostly local and regional in England with a couple of memorable trips to Devon, London and Cornwall.

In late 2022 I wanted to go back to Florida with him to spend Christmas with my family and so he could spend time with them as I was unsure of how much time we had left as Rocky had already surpassed the average lifespan of a bull terrier.

Rocky and I at the Minack Theatre in Cornwall, 2022

 

We had meant to return in the spring of 2023 to the UK, but I wanted him to rest and then spend one last summer and his birthday was in August and I thought it would be great to spend it with family, especially my mother who was very close to Rocky.

Unfortunately, in August 2023, he was diagnosed with the terrible disease.

We fought it for 3 months, and to Rocky’s credit, at 15 years old, he fought hard. I still cry about those last few months and I will always get emotional thinking about his battle and I wish I could have had another year with him.

I hope Rocky would feel as if I gave him the best life I could.

As for what will happen to this site, I will update in due time as I want to honour Rocky’s life and I feel he would be happy if I continue by helping others with their pets and showcasing news that shows the good that animals and pets do in this world.

Rest in peace Rocky, you lived life well.

Here are two quotes that I loved and I think about when I look back at the time with Rocky.

“It is not the length of life, but the depth of life”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The journey of life is sweeter when travelled with a dog”

-Unknown

 

Here are some photos of the good times below:

 

Rocky and I, nap time

 

Amsterdam, 2016
Pompeii, 2016
Venice, 2016
Near the border of France and Switzerland with family, new year 2019-2020
At a Turkish restaurant in Brighton, UK, 2016
At the Hilton Head Beach in South Carolina, 2023

1 Comment

  1. You would not be travelling if you lived in the village in Suffolk, no dogs allowed on the bus .

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