Rescuing Rocko: An Adoption Story
Hannah Baumgarten first saw Rocko in a Bojangles parking lot, sitting inside a pen with other rescue dogs.
A local organization in Milledgeville, GA called Have a Heart, Save a Life had recently taken him in after he had been hit by two cars. “Rocko was very shy and even though he was still a young puppy at the time, he was a lot bigger than the other puppies so no one was paying him much attention,” says Baumgarten. “I stepped into the cage and sat down to play with the pups and Rocko wiggled over to me and sat down in my lap; the woman in charge of Have a Heart told me that Rocko was the only pup that hadn’t been claimed to foster for the week, so of course I had to do it.”
While Baumgarten wasn’t looking to adopt an animal at the time, she had fostered for Have a Heart before and knew how they worked: any person thinking about adopting a dog must first foster him for a week. “I had to sign a piece of paper saying that I would take care of Rocko for the entire week and bring him back at the end, whether I was planning to adopt or not,” Baumgarten says. It only took that week for her to decide she just couldn’t give Rocko back.
Healing the Past
Rocko had been hit by two cars and had a broken leg and a bleeding mouth when he was rescued by a vet tech who happened to see the accident and decided to stop and help. He spent two months healing at a vet’s office before he was released to the rescue organization for adoption. While this didn’t leave any physical scars, it did leave a few emotional ones—including some early issues with separation anxiety. “When we first got Rocko, he had really terrible separation anxiety and would tear up this one certain couch at my boyfriend’s house every time we would leave him alone,” says Baumgarten. With time (and after getting rid of the couch), things slowly got better.
The New Rocko
It’s been two and a half years since Baumgarten adopted Rocko and he’s still a somewhat timid and skittish dog, especially when it comes to strange men. “My boyfriend and I try to take him out to places (breweries, restaurants, parks) to try to get him more acclimated with people and loud noises/places and while he has definitely gotten better over the past 2.5 years, he still jumps at anything with wheels and will back away from any man that tries to pet him,” she explains.
Still, Rocko has come a long way and, despite his issues with strangers, is now a very playful and very happy pup. “Rocko loves to lounge around the house with us, take naps and eat treats, but also loves to be adventurous and go hiking and swimming in the lake,” Baumgarten says.
“Once he warms up to anyone, he immediately wants to be near them and wants them to be petting him or laying with him.”