Oh, my dog! Rocky is rocking toward 175 years — in dog years, that is.
Rocky the dachshund, who makes his home with Robert Rowland in Shingle Springs, will turn 25 years old in March of next year, and if there’s any doubt that the silver-haired dog with the slow-dancing white feet will make it to the landmark birthday, a visit to his home will dispel it.
“C’mere, baby, c’mere Rocky — you’ve got company,” shouted Rowland, 73, who admittedly has to raise his voice to summon his pal of nearly a quarter-century. Sure enough, the coaxing brings forth Rocky, wobbling maybe a bit, but picking up speed as he headed from the bedroom of the sprawling ranch-style home and into the living room to check out the team from the Mountain Democrat.
Rowland dropped to the carpeted floor where he had spread out decades worth of photos of him and Rocky, and the old dachshund made his way over to his “dad,” swiping Rowland’s bare leg with a long lick before tooling on toward the front door.
“I’ve had Rocky since he was 2 weeks old; I had the pick of the litter,” Rowland explained as he pointed out a photo of the dachshund, in much younger days, riding around with him on a tractor. “I bottle fed him and he’s been with me all these years. We would go fishing, and to car shows … he would go practically everywhere I would go.”
Rowland, who owns a 1934 Ford hot rod, said Rocky was a big hit at the car shows, but the dog’s advanced age prevents that particular pleasure at this juncture.
The little dog, a brownish-fawn colored standard sized dachshund, also is a big hit at local stores and at the veterinary, where unfortunately he has had to spend some time recently.
Dr. Randy Robinson of Missouri Flat Pet Clinic helped nurse Rocky back to good health after a recent bout that involved the old boy’s prostate, but now the dog is in tail-wagging condition, according to Robinson.
“Rocky is rocking!” said Robinson. “He has the bloodwork of a much younger dog. I have done the bloodwork on him numerous times, and when I send it to the lab, they think something must be wrong because it’s consistently normal. It should be showing the effects of aging on his liver, that sort of thing.
“We have charts we follow to measure the bloodwork results, and Rocky is off the charts. He’s lived two long lifetimes for a dog already. Dogs that were born a dozen years ago are old now … and he’s going to be 25.”
The vet said the next-oldest dog that comes to his office is 22.
A Google search shows that the oldest known dog, an Australian cattle dog named Bluey, lived to be 29 years and 160 days before dying in 1939. But among dachshunds, Rocky is at the top of the stairs as the two of that breed that made the Google list include one that lived 21 years, 114 days and another that lived 20 years, 243 days.
Rowland, who was riding a bicycle up his driveway when the Democrat arrived, attributed Rocky’s longevity to being active.
“He never stops moving during the day,” he said, as Rocky toodled across the lawn outside toward a clump of low bushes. “In his younger days he hopped like a bunny in the snow, and he’d get on a gopher hole and stay on it. He’d also chase cows when he was younger, and he even killed a possum once.
“He doesn’t see that well, because he has cataracts, but he still manages to see maybe this much,” added Rowland, holding his palms about 5 inches apart. That’s enough to find his way to the food dish, where Rowland treats Rocky to diced beef and chicken on top of dry food.
A retired heavy equipment operator, Rowland moved to El Dorado County from Ventura in 1997. He divorced, and he and Rocky headed for the hills. Rocky is the only pet Rowland has had in the last 25 years, and it comes as no surprise that the pooch sleeps with his pal.
“I go to bed at 9 o’clock, and if Rocky wants to speed me up a bit, he stands in the hallway to the bedroom and looks at me like, ‘Come on, Dad, it’s time for bed,’” said Rowland as he led the way back into the house and into a second living area that features an authentic bear rug on the floor and a ceramic, life-size statue of … wait for it … a dachshund that looks startlingly like Rocky.
Rowland credits Dr. Robinson with saving the life of his beloved companion, and he estimated that Rocky will make it all the way to 30 — shattering all records.
“If he keeps going the way he’s going, I’d give him another five years,” said Rowland as Rocky padded over toward a sliding glass door. He said he intends to contact the Guinness Book of World Records should Rocky keep on rockin’.
Rowland scooped up the dog and rubbed his head. ”You’re going to make the newspaper, boy,” he shouted. “Huh, baby?! Yeah!”
Rocky gave his buddy’s hand another lick.
E-mail Pat Lakey at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-344-5066.