His name is Rocky. But he might just as well be Wonder Dog.
At 60 pounds, Rocky is a mix of German shorthair pointer and Labrador retriever. He was rescued from a shelter in Ohio at just about three weeks of age after he had been abandoned by his owners.
Now, he has returned the favor. Rocky has rescued a human.
“We saved him and then he saved us,” said his owner, Grace Hink of Neshannock Township.
Rocky sits quietly, paying attention to Grace. Usually, he is at the feet of her mother, Frances Hink, 96, and stays there for hours.
But Rocky went beyond the call of normal dog duty two weeks before Thanksgiving when he alerted Grace to a medical problem involving Frances.
Grace awoke about 5 a.m. to let Rocky go outside. She then went back to bed. At 6:15, she heard him pacing in the hallway.
“He was making what I call that ‘conversational growl,’ ” Grace described. “First, he put one paw on the bed, then two paws and then he stuck his wet nose under the covers, pushing at me.”
Something was amiss, she soon realized.
After getting up, she noticed a blanket from her mother’s bed was on the floor. Rocky had pulled the blanket from the bed and brought it into Grace’s room.
Just then, Frances emerged from the bathroom and collapsed onto the floor. At first, Grace thought it was a seizure or stroke. Results of testing are still inconclusive.
What she can conclude, though, is that earlier, Rocky must have detected that Frances was not feeling well and alerted his owner.
While waiting for emergency personnel to arrive to take Frances to the hospital, “Rocky sat in front of her and never left.
“She could have fallen and I wouldn’t have known. She could have laid there for two hours or longer. All the credit goes to this dog.”
Grace and her daughter, Samantha Bucci, obtained Rocky three years ago. From the start, there was something special about the dog for mom and daughter.
“He talks to me,” Grace said, adding she grew up with a dog and knew how to properly train it to listen, respond and obey. His treats for good behavior were Cheerios. At the shelter he was known as Angus, like the all-black cow, and Samantha noted, “He has rocks in his head” concerning the way he acted around the house.
The name Rocky stuck.
“I always go for the underdog,” Grace explained.
After Samantha moved from the house, Rocky instantly became Grace’s dog.
“He loves everybody, my mother loves him and he never barks.”
Frances said she is very grateful to Rocky.
“He is my new best friend,” she said.
Rocky always has been aware of his surroundings, Grace said.
“If someone coughs, sneezes or moves from a room, he comes and checks on them. His instincts are above and beyond.”
It was that intuitiveness that somehow led to the rescue efforts in November.
There was another time when a bathroom sink had become plugged and water was on the floor.
“Rocky kept making noises by the door and I knew something was wrong,” Grace said.
Once when she was ill, she put a pan of soup on the burner, forgot about it and smoke started filling the house. She said Rocky managed to alert her to the situation.
Grace also appreciates that Rocky is gentle with her grandchildren.
“When they cry, he sometimes hears the monitor before we do, and comes to me and I follow.”
She encourages others to adopt and rescue animals from shelters.
“They can be just as wonderful a pet and family friend as buying an expensive one, and mixed breeds can do amazing things,” Grace said. “They can save your life and alert you to danger.”
If any dog deserved a bonus for his valor, it was Rocky, the family savior.
So when she was informed in the hospital that the dog was a hero, Frances said, “I’m going to buy him a steak.”
Soon after, Rocky feasted on a New York strip steak.
Seems he is all about saving grace.