One gray morning I took the day off from work, knowing that today was the day it had to be done. Our dog, Rocky, had to be put to sleep. Sickness had ravaged his once-strong body, and despite every effort to heal our beloved boxer, his illness was intensifying.
I remember calling him into the car...how he loved car rides! But he seemed to sense that this time was going to be different. I drove around for hours, looking for any errand or excuse not to go to the vet's office, but I could no longer put off the inevitable. As I wrote the check to the vet for Rocky to be "put down," my eyes welled with tears and stained the check so it was almost unreadable.
We had gotten Rocky four years earlier, just before my first son, Robert, was born. We all loved him dearly, especially little Robert.
My heart ached as I drove home. I already missed Rocky. Robert greeted me as I got out of the car. When he asked me where our dog was, I explained that Rocky was in heaven now. I told him Rocky had been so sick, but now he would be happy and be able to run and play all the time. My little four-year-old paused, then looking at me with his clear blue eyes and an innocent smile on his face, he pointed to the sky and said, "He's up there, right, Dad?" I managed to nod yes, and walked into the house. My wife took one look at my face and started weeping softly herself. Then she asked me where Robert was, and I went back out to the yard to find him.
In the yard, Robert was running back and forth, tossing a large stick into the air, waiting for it to return to the ground and then picking it up and throwing it higher and higher each time. When I asked what he was doing, he simply turned and smiled.
"I'm playing with Rocky, Dad..."