Posted by: thefitacademic | December 14, 2010

Dog Gone-it!

Well, by now, you probably know how much I love my child dog, Rocky.

Rocky has a clinical doggy disorder – Ball Drive (yep, he’s actually been diagnosed!). Apparently having ball drive is a good thing, especially for service dogs. This is because the dog is so obsessed with the ball that it can be used as a reward whenever you’re teaching them a new trick (you can learn more here). And to be fair, Rocky is very smart & knows lots of tricks.

But mostly, Rocky’s ball drive has been a source of great annoyance. Whenever people come over, Rocky will NOT leave them alone. And God help anyone who actually starts to throw the ball for Rocky. He can be pretty persistent. Most of the time we have to take all the toys away just so he won’t harass people with incessant whining, pawing, barking, etc.

In addition to being just simply annoying, Rocky’s obsession can actually lead to injury. Multiple times he has run (full-throttle, mind you) to retrieve a ball, only to hurt himself any number of ways:

1. Accidentally stabbing himself on shrubbery while trying to retrieve ball

2. Gashing his face on the corner of a glass table (this has happened more than once)

3. Impaling the inside of his throat with a stick (that time it was a stick being fetched instead of the ball)

4. Heat exhaustion, simply from running too much (yep-he literally will not stop until he’s passing out).

So #4 is what I’m going to focus on today. Basically, WE have to monitor Rocky’s physical state to protect him from himself because – if we go to a dog park, for example – he WILL NOT STOP!

Another problem that has been new to Arizona…..because there’s no grass (all gravel/dirt), Rocky’s little paw pads get totally ripped up on his frantic ball-retrieval sprints.


He just loves having me mess with his paws – see his growl toothy smile?

So it’s really hard to tell in the pictures, but you know how there is an outter layer on the bottom little pad? This layer has been ripped off entirely on Rocky, and the underneath part is very tender and sore, and sometimes bleeds.


In this picture – it’s section “E” where Rocky has his problems.

We have tried everything to remedy this problem. The vet said his paws would “toughen up” (which earned him the nick-name “Tender Foot”) – but they never “toughened up” enough.

I bought these tough-looking man-booties


Similar to these but in baby blue hue. (very manly)

But, alas, they fly off the second he starts running.

So – we are stuck with having to monitor his ball-fetching and to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself.

But sometimes, even when we try, we fail : (

This last weekend we went to the dog-park & Rocky is still recovering from his tender-paws (3 out of his 4 paws pads were injured). It makes my heart hurt for him, but – bless his little OCD ball-driven heart – he shows ZERO affect of the injury until well later in the afternoon….I guess because he gets an incredible adrenaline surge from the Ball Drive or something.

I don’t know. If you’ve never seen a dog with true ball drive – it is a thing of wonder to behold!

And now, here’s my baby, in recovery mode spread out on my lap just begging to have his tummy rubbed. He’s so mistreated if you couldn’t tell ; )



If you just haven’t gotten enough, you can read more about Rocky here.


Don’t worry – I’m nursing him back to health : )



  1. Bless his ball-driven doggy heart!! I have known some pretty ball-obsessed dogs in my time and had no idea they actually had a syndrome for that!

  2. Oh, what a cute dog! I hope Rocky gets better soon!

  3. Awe poor Rocky. What a cutie.
    My dog Rufus is toy/ball obsessed too. It’s hard to get him to settle down once he gets going. But he’s also a cutie like Rocky so I wouldn’t trade him for the world. 🙂

    • Yeah, it was really out of control when he was a puppy (he’s almost 6 now!), because he had ENDLESS energy so he just never stopped…..EVER! But now looking back, I can’t even believe how many times I wanted to get rid of this dog! lol. I love him beyond words now!

  4. aw poor guy:(

  5. OH NO!! That is so sad.Keep us updated with his recover:)

  6. […] – thanks to everyone who expressed concern last week for Rocky’s tender paws (he had hurt his paws at the dog park). He’s now completely […]

  7. […] today, so it was actually my first time ever to take Rocky to the park alone. He had a ball (literally – catch is his […]

  8. […] enjoyed a leisurely morning. Went on a little run, then came back to pick up Rocky (who hates runs, unless it’s running for a ball), and walked around the neighborhood for a bit. SOOOOOOOOO nice to see the sun! […]

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