Rocky was more than a good boy

Published 1:18 am Friday, February 19, 2021

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It’s one of the saddest days in any pet owner’s life. The day they have to say goodbye.

But for Dep. Rory Dempsey of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, that goodbye was more heartbreaking than most when he was forced to put his K9 partner to sleep on Jan. 21 at the age of 13.

Rocky was his name, and he was a black lab who poured his heart into not only being Dempsey’s best friend, but his K9 partner on the force as a narcotics dog with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

When the two met in 2008, it was love at first sight.

On a training day, Dempsey went to see several puppies that were being trained for K9 services, and that’s when he saw his future best friend.

Still a puppy, Rocky had a scar on the left side of his snout and a droop under his left eye from where his mother had been too aggressive with him.

“He looked like he had been through 15 rounds with Mike Tyson, so I named him Rocky,” Dempsey said.

From there, the relationship blossomed.

Rocky was trained at four months old to sniff out marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine.

But not only did the partners go to work together every day, Rocky also slept in the bed between Dempsey and his wife and became a part of the family.  The deputy, who has daughters, thought of the K9 as his son, not just a co-worker or pet.

Sadly, Rocky formed arthritis and was forced to retire after serving five years and was then diagnosed with throat cancer in 2020.

His health quickly deteriorated, and in his final two days of life he couldn’t even get up to go outside on. That’s when Dempsey and his family had to make the difficult decision to say goodbye.

That one word, after so many years and memories, was one of the most heartbreaking Dempsey had ever uttered.

Rocky, however, fulfilled his purpose.

He not only helped get drugs and criminals off the street, but he completed a family.

Saying goodbye is never easy, but Rocky’s life was better because of the Dempseys, and their life was better because of Rocky.

Now, the family can rejoice in the impact their furry family member had on them, knowing that he is happily wagging his tail while watching over them.