Rocky 14-24 – A Special Journey



14-24 Rocky 2 - croppedIn September of 2014, GRRIN volunteers Jim and Mary Jane Fitch were on their way to transport a 15-month-old dog named Rocky. They knew they were not picking up a typical Golden: Rocky was being surrendered to GRRIN because his front leg was deformed and he was not thriving in his current home. His family made the difficult decision to give him up with the hope that GRRIN could find someone who could provide advanced care for his disability.

Before Rocky was delivered to his foster family, Jim and Mary Jane knew that Rocky was meant to be with them; they were so convinced that they immediately contacted GRRIN’s adoption coordinator asking how to proceed. Recently retired, they could give Rocky the care he needed, which would probably include many trips to the vet and physical therapy. After a week with his foster family, Rocky was adopted and ready to start his new adventure in the Fitch home.

Rocky settled in quickly, but Jim and Mary Jane realized that he would need some very specialized care in order to be able to function like any other young and active Golden Retriever. His front paw is just a few inches shorter than the other, making it seem natural for him to walk and run on it, but with the pressure leaving the paw raw and sore.

Tiny White SquareRocky’s journey has not been easy. He started with underwater therapy weekly and often twice a week at Four Paws Fitness & Rehab in South Sioux City, Nebraska, so he could get ready for a prosthetic which Jim and Mary Jane had hoped to get for him by the end of the year.


Tiny White SquareRocky 14-24 xrayHowever, during his first visit to Denver, Colorado, it was discovered he would need to have surgery on his front elbow of the normal leg. This was completed at Iowa State, followed by eight weeks of recovery and more therapy. By May, Rocky was ready to get fit for a prosthetic limb back in Denver.

Tiny White SquareRocky 14-24 Prosthesis FittingHave you ever tried to convince a Golden Retriever to put on a prosthetic foot and go for a walk? It’s not easy! Jim and Mary Jane continued their work with Rocky bit by bit with therapist Jean Gill at Four Paws. They took him on family vacations to the lake and walked him daily for very short periods of time so he wouldn’t get over-tired or frustrated. It takes a lot of time, patience, and trust to teach a dog to wear a prosthetic limb, but they did it.

Tiny White Square15-04-Bogie---professional-11---web-optimizedAnd then, something even more amazing happened. During Rocky’s travels, Mary Jane and Jim met a lot of caring veterinary professionals. In particular, they met the physical therapists at Iowa State who were caring for another very special dog named Bogie. Bogie’s hind end is partially paralyzed and his elderly owner couldn’t keep him. He’d been living at Iowa State for a month and the therapists had been trying to find a rescue to take him or Bogie would be euthanized. Once they learned that Mary Jane was a GRRIN volunteer, they asked her for help. GRRIN was able to find an appropriate foster home and Bogie was surrendered to GRRIN. Mary Jane has continued her journey to help other dogs with disabilities by becoming Bogie’s caseworker. She is directly involved in decisions made about his care and she’s his biggest advocate.

Rocky was lucky enough to find the perfect family that could give him many more years of comfort and happiness. Mary Jane and Jim have a special place in their hearts for Bogie as well, and would love to see him find HIS perfect family.

Visit Bogie’s page to learn more about him. (Update: Bogie was adopted by his foster mom!)