To end National Pet Month, I am republishing our story about our dog, Bobby the Pug, originally published in 2006.  Bobby has been gone over 10 years, but our family will be forever blessed by his memory.

Bobby The Pug:  Life lessons Learned, by Jerold E. Rothkoff

“We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” –– Immanuel Kant

In February 1994, I met two very special individuals. The first was my future wife, Erica, who I have been privileged to be married to for over ten years. The second was a very special pug dog named Bobby, who just happened to be owned by Erica. Bobby died on August 5, 2006. During the twelve years Bobby was in my life, Bobby taught my family and me more about life than I could ever have imagined.

Bobby was not your average dog. Bobby was a special needs dog. He was born with a neurological impairment that limited his ability to walk. He had to be carried up and down steps, and usually fell on his face or back after taking several steps. Due to this, we, at times, walked him in a baby stroller.

Nonetheless, regardless of Bobby’s limitations, he was a fighter. He learned how to compensate for his difficulty walking and more or less was able to get where he needed to go. He also attempted to keep our other two dogs in line by biting at their legs or whatever he could hold on to. Gradually, over the years, Bobby’s disability worsened. It became more and more difficult for him to walk, necessitating the need to carry him from place to place.

During his last few years, he was unable to ambulate on his own. At first, I was not looking forward to caring for this disabled pug. I never had a dog before and dreaded the thought of all the extra work that taking care of Bobby called for. Amazingly, it turned into a labor of love. For almost eleven years, my day began and ended with Bobby in my arms. Each morning, I carried him down the steps and outside to “make.” This routine was reversed each evening prior to bedtime.

The gift Bobby gave myself, my wife, and our children, was the ability to care for someone who needed our help. We enjoyed being able to help him. Bobby helped show us that caring for another in need has its own immeasurable rewards. In a way, Bobby gave more to our family than we ever gave to him.

I work with elderly clients whose sole source of companionship is their pet. They refuse to leave their home for independent or assisted living because no one will care for their pet. These clients not only have a companion, they also have someone that is dependent upon them. Someone they are responsible for. The loss of their pet will also entail the loss of their ability to give.

For twelve years, Bobby gave my family and me the ability to give. For that, we are forever grateful. Goodbye, my dear friend; your life lessons will be put to good use.

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About Jerry

Jerold E. Rothkoff, a practicing New Jersey and Pennsylvania attorney, is the Principal of the Rothkoff Law Group, an elder care law firm. Jerry dedicates his practice to serving clients in the areas of life care planning, long-term care planning, Medicaid & VA benefits, and advocacy for the elderly and disabled. He is past President of the NJ Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, former chair of the elder law section of the NJ State Bar Association, and past President of the Life Care Planning Law Firm Association. Jerry continues to be an outspoken advocate for the rights of the elderly and disabled. He writes for and gives presentations regularly to attorneys and other professionals about legal issues related to seniors and those with disabilities. Jerry’s community activities include the Twilight Wish Foundation, the Delaware Valley Stroke Council, the Alzheimer’s Association, as well as numerous other advocacy groups. When not in the office, Jerry spends time with his wife, Erica, and their five children, eighteen-year old identical twin girls, Liza and Julia, fifteen-year old fraternal twin boys, Evan and Gregory, and six-year old Aitan.

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