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Meet the Mutts: Rocco

Let’s re-visit the dog situation for a moment. At this point in our lives, we had 4 dogs. Four. As in more than average. A house full. A pack.

We’d slowed way down on the fostering, focusing on our own mutts. Although occassionally there was a transient resident on their way to a more permanent existence. That exception is how we ended up with one wayward, very naughty, terribly cute, and altogether unnecessary Terrier.


That’s Rocco when he was brand new to us. Approximately one year old, with three homes and a rescue under his belt already. All soft faced and innocent looking. Heh.

Rocco (originally known as Rocky, which we’ve never called him) aka Rock, Rock-star, Co, CoCo, CoCo Loco, Coke, and a$$hole.

Oh yeah. We’ve saved some of our most choice names for this particular dog.


See Rock, ended up with us for a reason. His prior home was with a co-worker of mine. A guy with two small kids, a busy household, and a four foot fence. Four feet presents absolutely no challenge for Rocco. Four feet is hardly worth pausing in the midst of your run. Rocco can leap four feet without a stray thought. And he will. At the least stimuli. To chase down and bite at his prey. Be that jogger, bicycle, other dog, it matters not. Rocco quickly became a menace to the neighborhood.

His family was at their wits end. Rocco was going to hurt someone. He’d come pretty damn close already. They took Rocco to their vet to be euthanized, I went to pick him up before that could happen.

All that aside, I still had no idea what I was getting myself into. I’m a dog saavy kind of gal. I’ve dealt with some dogs who were serious pains in the butt. Nothing prepared me for Rocco.

He’s a Jack Russell Terrier-ish fellow. Like a JRT, but bigger, taller, leggier. He’s 25lbs. We’ve often said the world is very fortunate he’s only 25lbs. Otherwise we’d have another Kim Jong Il on our hands.

Rocco’s adjustment period was long. By long, I mean years. Ok, maybe just a year. A year before, he acted like he gave a crap what we had to say. A year before he would reliably listen to anything. A year before I felt like we had him any sort of under control. Before I could trust him to greet people, to stay where I put him, to not steal things (anything really) from countertops, trash cans, laundry baskets, anything he was remotely interested in he would take. And then dare you to take it back.


Rocco respects authority. Its about tough love. All positive training? He will take your cookie and promptly lift his leg in your general direction. If Abbey is the Captain of my team, Rocco is my henchman. He loves me because I tell him what to do consistently and often, with absolutely no room for negotiation. If he doesn’t listen, he knows bad things happen. That’s our understanding. I always win. It works for us.

These days, all these years later (going on 8 of them) Rocco is almost a good dog. By almost, I mean he is still the most challenging dog I own. He is my running companion. The only dog who truly enjoys it. He tops out at about 3-1/2 miles. It secretly gives me great joy to run him into the ground. A tired terrier is a trust worthy terrier.


When I made the decision to pick up Rocco from the Vet’s office that day, it was with the intention of adopting him out. A fact I find completely laughable now. Rocco? Adoptable? *snerkety-snort-snort-snort* Even now, as Rocco-lite, he’s not fit for J.Q. Petowner. He’s my official foster failure. We were Rocco’s last stop, one way or another. I consider our relationship sacred. I love all my dogs, of course. But Rocco and I, we understand each other in a different way. He chooses me, to trust me, to listen to me, and respect my authority. Something he doesn’t bestow upon 99.99% of the population. Little did I know, eight years ago, I was choosing him.

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Kaitlin Jenkins

Most truthful statement I’ve read today “A tired terrier is a trust worthy terrier” Seriously, they are like no other breed. 😉


I hear that! And unfortunately tired usually doesn’t last very long.


He loves me because I tell him what to do consistently and often, with absolutely no room for negotiation. If he doesn’t listen, he knows bad things happen. That’s our understanding. I always win. It works for us. – Same understanding I have with my rat terrier (the biter of men). We have to win because Lord help us if they are in control.


I really wish I had your way with dogs. My blue heeler completely blows me off. She absolutely dotes on my husband, but he can’t bring himself to reprimand her in anything but a silly voice. Fortunately somehow peace reigns anyway.

I have a young friend who is going to pet sit for me. She is very assertive and my dogs DO listen to her, they think she is their queen. I am worried tho because she has a puppy – the last time I introduced a dog into the herd there were some fights. I don’t want her puppy to get hurt. She wants to bring thepuppy wiht her.

We did watch a puppy for someone for a wknd not long ago, and everyone was pretty good. But I am still nervous. Any advice to prevent those fights? One of them became quite serious when I pulled the blue heeler out (of course she caused it) and the hound dog started attacking ME. we got thru it, but I dont ever want that to happen again.


“By almost, I mean he is still the most challenging dog I own.” My favorite line. I have a JRT. She is the light of my life and the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. And at 5 years old I guess I’ve got a few more years before she because almost well behaved. I love meeting the mutts! And finding out what team they are on!


Oh how looks are deceiving! He’s beautiful and so sweet looking. After reading the comments, I don’t think I have the personality for a terrier. I certainly don’t have the stamina to out run one. All that said, I’m glad you saved the beautiful little guy.


Rocco is completely deceiving! Its part of his charm. 😉 And its true. Terriers are unique creatures amongst themselves. I’ve met several not as bad as Rocco, but thats completely relative. They are not for the feint of heart, that’s for sure.

Trish – Thats a tough situation since you won’t be there when the puppy is. I strongly encourage people *not* to bring their dogs to my house, with a very few exceptions. In most cases, its just too many dogs. Unless the dog is bullet proof there’s just no reason to stress everybody out. I’d definitely try to do the puppy intro before hand, with all hands on deck, and a stern stern warning to your sitter about what could happen.

Thanks for all the comments. I’d pass the attention on to Rocco, but it’d just go to his head. Then we really couldnt live with him. 😛


Wow, yes, terriers are something else. I have one (Patterdale terrier mix) along with an older Australian Shepherd. I’d read Australian Shepherds could be a handful, but my Aussie is a sweetheart and is nothing compared to my crazy terrier, Spiffy Whiskers. Rocco would love Spiffy. She is a full-fledged squirrel & dove murderer. Looks so innocent too. She has four under her belt so far… She practically flies across the yard. Love dogs! Terriers rule (literally).

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